Non-accidental tourist

Taking in the Bay Area through different eyes -- and leaping into Sushi Zone

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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS It's an interesting experience to be a tourist in one's own town. I recommend it. And I don't mean showing your visitors to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, a big, good dinner, and then going home; I mean sleeping at the hotel with them. Wandering around with a confused expression on your face, asking silly questions, and wearing funny clothes are optional, but encouraged.

Hedgehog is allergic to cats and Stoplight pretty much is one. For me, the decision was easy. As much as I enjoy sleeping with my cute little kitty all tangled in my hair and trying between four and five every morning to scratch out my eyeballs, I prefer the sensation of soft, warm, human skin, along with some other advantages such as sex, intelligent conversation, and sleep.

Hedgehog being for the most part a human being, I subletted my place and puss a little earlier than I had to, and went with her.

One night we stayed at the Edwardian on Market and Gough. This is not my new favorite hotel, but on the plus side it put me in a position to eat three things I might not have otherwise eaten, including a bowl of Italian wedding soup from Caffé Trieste across the street.

As far as I know, there are no other kinds of wedding soup beside the Italian kind. It has, traditionally, escarole in it, and tiny meatballs, in a chicken broth with celery and onions. Some wedding soups also contain pastine, which is both little tiny pasta similar to orzo, and one of my cousins in Ohio.

The Leone family recipe never had pasta in it. Nor did the Rubino family recipe. Maybe because both of my Grandmas came from the same li'l village in Italy. They made, instead, these dense cheesy eggy spongey croutons we called cheesies. And if you ever are lucky enough to have a holiday dinner with any one of my siblings, but especially Maria, there will be wedding soup with cheesies.

I have never had it at a wedding.

But then again, I have never had a wedding. If I do, there will be wedding soup like this, and that will be all I need to know. I personally can't stop eating it once I start.

Except at a restaurant because then you're at a restaurant. And if I don't change the subject soon, this will be a restaurant review, which won't exactly do. So let me tell you what we watched on television at the Edwardian Hotel that night.

The San Francisco Giants, and the San Jose Giants, who were playing two different teams on two different channels — and at my apartment there isn't even a TV, so take that, Stoplight.

Tourism 1, Stoplight 0.

I'm just kidding. Before the game(s), we went to Sushi Zone for an early dinner. We got there at 5:30, before the masses, and sat right down at the counter. The place is, of course, miniscule. Two booths and maybe six or eight seats at the bar. By six there was a waiting list, and people were bringing their knitting and pitching tents on the sidewalk.

Can I tell you how smug we felt? Sitting and eating our early-bird dinner? So smug that I almost hated us . . . but loved the worms. Truly, this is top-shelf sushi.

Hedgehog had the baked mussel appetizer, which had mayonnaise in it, so I passed on that and ate a salad. Everything sushi-y that we had was fantastic, including regular old saba, but the show stopper was tuna with mango and something else.

It was the mango and wasabi combination that caught Hedgehog's attention, and then mine when she showed it to me. I am always looking for new taste sensations and good, ripe mango with wasabi on it — not to mention the fish and ginger and everything — really floated my boat. This carried me over, happinesswise, until our late dinner, which occurred out of nowhere on our way back to the hotel, but we'll all have to wait until next week, cause I'm out of inches.

For at least 20 minutes, my new favorite restaurant was:

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