Wednesday, October 17, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 32
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Affordably priced rolls at Ha Ha Sushi in Orcutt aren't the only reason to stop by

REBECCA ROSE

The sign outside Ha Ha Sushi in Orcutt is almost too good to believe.

I actually had to convince my coworkers that it wasn’t just a one-time special deal or that we had show up at 3 a.m. and chant ancient Sumerian texts backwards under the light of a full moon in order to qualify for the promised discount. But it’s true—Ha Ha Sushi in Orcutt really does have a robust selection of 50 percent off rolls on its menu, good for the entire time they’re open.


ROLL WITH IT
Ha Ha Sushi has a range of highly affordable rolls perfect for the lunch crowd, starting at around $2.99 for favorites like the California or spicy tuna rolls.
PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

My lunchtime crew and I (basically a cabal of poor and starving journalists who are more than delighted to tag along with me when I need to try out a restaurant for this column) are always looking for cheap eats. We especially love sushi, and any time we find a joint that has good rolls for a good price, it becomes our new hotspot. Lately, it’s been Ha Ha Sushi, but it’s not just the inexpensive rolls that have us hooked.

The venue is small with a cozy ambiance (in restaurant speak that means you’ll be able to eavesdrop on your neighbor’s conversation if you happen to be that kind of shady diner) but feels authentic without an ounce of pretension. It’s laid-back enough to not feel stuffy yet delicately elegant enough to still feel special. The decor is restrained, and the vibe (especially at the sushi bar) feels like a night out at a favorite sports bar.


HOT IN HERE
Ha Ha Sushi’s Baja California roll features spicy tuna, yellowtail, cilantro, green onion, and sliced jalapeño, for those looking for a little kick.
PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

The half-off classic rolls menu delivers exactly what it promises. If you’re not comfortable with sushi beyond basic rolls such as California, spicy tuna, cucumber, and the like, then Ha Ha Sushi is a dream spot. The California roll is a jaw-dropping $2.99 (I seriously had to go back and check this three times to make sure I wasn’t wrong). And for the low price, it still manages to be a generously sized portion, which is rare for some sushi places that offer deep discounts. If you want something a little more complex but still want to stay on the discount menu, check out the 911 roll or the Alaska roll, both for $6.48.

If you’re looking to go beyond the classic rolls, Ha Ha Sushi has a fairly extensive menu of creative and still affordably priced rolls. The Caterpillar roll, another sushi classic, includes eel, fresh avocado, crab, and cucumber for $12.95, again with big-sized portions. The Mexican roll is also a favorite of mine, combining shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, and a spicy sauce that isn’t too overpowering.

Some of the other standouts on the menu include the Moon River roll with spicy tuna, white fish, albacore, and cucumber; the Golden Ha Ha roll with tuna, salmon, shrimp tempura, crab, masago, green onion, and a chef’s special sauce; and the BBQ Cowboy roll made with short ribs, avocado, crab, and cucumber. If you want to get a little outside of the box, check out the Funky Monkey, made with spicy salmon, shrimp, and cream cheese layered in fresh jalapeño and deep fried.


TOO PRETTY TO EAT
The caterpillar roll at Ha Ha Sushi includes freshwater eel, avocado, cucumber, and crab, in generous portion sizes.
PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

There’s not really much of a downside here. The service can be a little slow due to the demand especially at lunch, but the entire staff is absolutely sweet and wonderful, and if you’re patient, it’s entirely worth the wait. Besides, anyone who wants to come to the table with a delicious $2.99 roll can take their darn time.

In a world where high-end sushi restaurants in metropolitan areas can charge up to $500 a plate, it’s nice to remember and celebrate the basics of a cuisine Americans have so quickly adopted.

No laughing matter
Ha Ha Sushi is located at 4869 S. Bradley Road, Orcutt. More info: (805) 937-1369.

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose always goes back to the basics. Contact her at rrose@santamariasun.com.

 

 

 

• On June 3, food and wine fans will be treated to the Locals Love block party event in Los Olivos. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the event will feature live music, food, vendors, and more. Local vendors and businesses will include Artisans Gallery, Kaena Wine, Avec Moi Décor, Larner Vineyard & Winery, The Bear and Star, Los Olivos General Store, Dragonette Cellars, Stafford’s Famous Chocolates, Epiphany Cellars, and many more. For more info on the event, check out the Facebook page. (facebook.com/events/535731706826856/)


Vegan pappardelle from Pico in Los Alamos.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PICO LOS ALAMOS

Chef Drew at Pico is now serving a vegan option for their house pappardelle dish. The dish is made with maitake mushrooms and a tomato shallot sauce. Vegans (and meat eaters!) can try it for themselves at 458 Bell St., Los Alamos.

• Speaking of Los Alamos, Plenty on Bell’s next winemaker dinner will be feature Storm Wines on May 31. Purchase tickets in store or by calling (805) 344-3020. The venue is located at 508 Bell St., Los Alamos.

Valle Eatery in Lompoc has a new line of signature cocktails (didn’t I tell you last year this was going to be a big trend out here?). Start with the Blueberry Mojito made with Bacardi limon, blueberries, mint, lime, and simple syrup, and work your way up to the Commander in Chief, made with Irish and single malt whiskey, limoncello, passion fruit and apricot syrups, and bitters. Specialty cocktails start at $12. Valle Eatery is located at 1201 N. H St., Lompoc.

Cubanissimo is still the go-to place for authentic Cuban snacks and drinks. For a midday pick-me-up, try the Cafe Cubano and a portion of their Papa Rellenas, stuffed potato balls filled with cheese and Cuban bacon. The cafe is located at 4869 S. Bradley Road, suite 118, Orcutt.




Weekly Poll
Should Santa Maria school districts require cultural proficiency training for faculty?

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