Full Moon Sushi

Written By: Aaron Morris - Jan• 31•12

We are always open to a new sushi restaurant, and once we saw the sign go up on Full Moon Sushi on First Street, we were anxious for the debut, and showed up to give it a try the first week it was open.

Good fresh sushi is all fine and good, but that provides little basis for comparison from one place to another.  At the risk of shocking the purists, I think the rolls are what distinguish one sushi restaurant from another.

From that viewpoint, the first couple of rolls we tried were very good but unremarkable. But then we ordered a roll called the albacore dream or something like that, and another called the Hawaiian.  I love albacore, so it was no surprise that I found this very good, but the Hawaiian was amazing, covered with huge chunks of tuna.  We both agreed that this might be the single best sushi roll we have ever tasted.  For this one roll alone, a trip to Full Moon Sushi III at 1st and Newport will be worth your while.We visited at 2:00 p.m. midweek, and had the place to ourselves.

One gold star to Full Moon Sushi for staying open for those hours between lunch and dinner, unlike so many other sushi bars.  The place is very nice inside, with a small sushi counter and some tables.  I wanted to see some menus describing the rolls and some lunch special, but no luck.  This is a straight on sushi restaurant with no such niceties.  If you want to know what is in your roll, ask.

Other Reviews of Full Moon Sushi:

Yahoo Local (Costa Mesa location)
Urbanspoon (Fountain Valley location)

Full Moon Sushi III
498 E. 1st Street, #1000
Tustin, CA  92780

A Great Way to Spend a Dime

Written By: Aaron Morris - Jan• 31•12

I went to a wine tasting today at Total Wine & More at the Tustin Marketplace.  In addition to the usual wine tasting held by Total Wine every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Loring Wine Company was also offering tastes of its Pinot Noir selections.

The Loring wines were all from the 2007 vintage, and included “Clos Pepe”, “Keefer Ranch” and “Russell Family”.  All three were good, but the real standout was the Keefer Ranch.  However, good as it was, I cannot recommend it at the $50 price.  You could store a bottle for five years to see if something special develops, but there are better Pinots offered at less than $20 that are ready to drink now.  Try the Rosemount Estate Pinot Noir 2004 or even the Yellow Tail Pinot Noir which sells for just $7.

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If you have yet to attend a wine tasting at Total Wine, you are missing a nice experience.  The tastings run from noon to six, give or take an hour depending on the day.  Since by law they cannot give away alcoholic beverages, the price of admission is a dime.  This is not a lecture-type tasting where you need to follow along in a certain order.  Just show up anytime during the tasting hours, toss your dime in the bucket, and enjoy.  Ten cents allows you to taste five or so good wines or, as on this occasion, around a dozen if there is a guest winery displaying its wares.  Of course the store wants you to find and buy a bottle you like, so they are generous with the higher-end wines. If you do decide to buy a bottle, ask the server for a coupon. Typically the coupon shaves a dollar off the price of the bottle. Hey, a buck is a buck.

Sometimes the store adds mid-week tastings, so check the website to make sure the wine will be flowing when you go on a day other than Friday through Sunday. The mid-week tastings are generally limited to four wines.

There is also a very cool help yourself dispenser for times when there is no wine tasting going on (and even when there is for that matter). You purchase a reloadable cash card, and sample to your heart’s content. No ten cent tastings here though. A very small tasting will cost you from 50 cents to $2.25, depending on the cost of the wine. Still, if you are trying to find something new for a party, it is really nice to be able to taste eight different wines to find something you like, rather than taking a chance on an unknown bottle. I have found some exceptional values as a result of the dispenser.

If you prefer the lecture format, Total Wine also offers evening wine classes which are typically held one Thursday a month from 6:30 to 9:30, and cost $25.

The Great Hefeweizen Shoot-Out

Written By: Aaron Morris - Jan• 31•12

Wheat beer is a beer that is brewed with a significant proportion of wheat. Wheat beers often also contain a significant proportion of malted barley. Wheat beers are usually top-fermented (in Germany they have to be by law).  The flavor of wheat beers varies considerably, depending upon the specific style.

“Hefe” is the German word for yeast, and “weizen” means wheat.  Put them together and you get the very imperfect translation, yeast-wheat, but the real translation refers to beer with the yeast still present – wheat beer in its traditional, unfiltered form. If the wheat beer is filtered, it then becomes “kristallweizen” (crystal wheat), or “kristall weiss” (crystal white beer).  Filtering removes the yeast from suspension, as well as the wheat proteins that give hefeweizen its cloudy appearance.  Alternate terms for hefeweizen include: hefeweissbier, weissbier, hefeweisse, dunkelweizen, weizenbock, or weizenstarkbier. A weizenbock is not necessarily considered a hefeweizen unless it is left unfiltered.

The hefeweizen style is particularly noted for its low hop bitterness (about 15 IBUs) and relatively high carbonation (approaching four volumes), considered important to balance the beer’s relatively malty sweetness.  A seasoned beer drinker can appreciate the complexity and varied taste of a good wheat beer, and at the same time it is a great way to win over those who eschew beer for its bitterness.  The style of the ale yeast used in wheat beer throws off flavors not often found in other beers, and is responsible for the banana and vanilla tastes often found in these beers.

Wheat beer (“weissbier”) is available in a number of other stronger forms including dunkelweizen (dark wheat) and weizenstarkbier (strong wheat beer); the latter is often referred to as weizenbock.  The dark wheat varieties typically have a much higher alcohol content than their lighter cousins. (more…)