Full Moon Sushi III
498 E. 1st Street, #1000
Tustin, CA 92780
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.
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.
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 (see photo). 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.
Other Reviews of Full Moon Sushi:
Yahoo Local (Costa Mesa location)
Urbanspoon (Fountain Valley location)
Taqueria Los Grandes
1736 W. Fifth Street
Santa Ana, CA
It's a bit of a drive, but we discovered a little hole in the wall place deep inside Santa Ana, at 1736 W. Fifth Street. Taqueria Los Grandes is not much bigger than a Taco Bell, and like a Taco Bell you order the food at the counter and pick it up when called. In other words, not an upscale place. Indeed, we went there on a recommendation, but based on the way my car's navigation system steered us there, I thought I must have entered the address wrong because we were in a residential neighborhood. But as I peeked around the front of a building facing Fifth Street, it turned out to be the restaurant.
We picked some things at random, and sat down to wait for our food, a bit skeptical that this would be worth the drive. That skepticism continued even as we picked up the food. The portions were large, always a bonus, but the presentation wasn't much. Both orders came in those aluminum foil containers and, oddly, the napkins were from Bagel Me. But the food was insanely good. My nachos were fantastic, with a large quantity of beef on top. My cohort ordered the carne asada burritos, which were served with Mexican rice. She insisted that I take a bite of the rice, which looked like plain old Mexican rice to me. Again, the taste was amazing, and she explained that was only the second time in her life that she had experienced authenticate Mexican rice at a restaurant, all other instances having come from home cooking. It was almost comical that such fantastic tastes could be coming from what was sitting in those unassuming aluminum containers. This is no Taco Bell.
Other reviews of Taqueria Los Grandes:
Sutha Thai Kitchen
1161 Irvine Blvd.
Tustin, CA 92780
This tiny restaurant, tucked away in the shopping center at the intersection of Irvine Blvd. and Old Irvine Blvd. (across from Michaels), appears to be designed primarily for take-out and delivery (free delivery with a $15 minimum order within a 3-mile radius). There are just five or so tables lined up in a small area in the front. But that is one of the charms of this place, if you opt for sit-down dining as opposed to taking it home. Typically there are just a few people there, so the service is amazing. Our beverages never got below the 3/4 mark before they were instantly refilled.
On this latest visit, we ordered the Seafood Fried Rice, Mongolian Beef, Pad Thai and the Spicy Seafood Platter. All were very good, with fresh, crispy vegetables. I especially liked the Seafood Platter, which included fish, shrimp, mussels, squid and crab, all sautéed with the house spicy curry sauce.
A common problem with Thai restaurants is they never take me seriously when I ask for the food to be a ten on the spicy scale. At one of my favorites in the Long Beach area, the conversation always goes something like this.
"Please make that a ten on the spice."
"Ten is very, very hot. I'll make it six."
"No. I've eaten here before, I can take it, please make it a ten."
"Ten! Ten! Ten!"
I can always tell if they have complied, because the other patrons start coughing uncontrollably when our order is being carried to the table. I'm still trying to get Sutha Thai Kitchen to that point, and on this visit they came close. There was some minor coughing from the other patrons when they brought out the Mongolian Chicken. A very, flavorful, spicy dish.
Most dinner entrees are $8, and the lunch specials are around $6.50. The lunch specials come with soup, and the sweet and sour soup is amazing.
For the fresh ingredients perfectly prepared, the service and the complete charm of this tiny restaurant, we rate Sutha Thai Kitchen the Best Thai Restaurant in and around Tustin.
-- Aaron Morris
Sutha Thai Kitchen
Open Monday through Saturday
11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
2961 Michelson Drive
We'd love to give the prize to a more local eatery, but we must give credit where credit is due. Yes, the steaks are overpriced, but for complete steak nirvana there is nothing like Ruth's Chris Steak House.
Ruth's Chris Steak House serves the finest aged, corn-fed USDA Prime beef. The steaks are broiled in their trademark 1,800° oven and served on a very hot plate so that your steak is always presented sizzling hot at your table. If you eschew beef, the menu includes select fresh seafood and other meat entrees, including seasonal specialties like Venison and Garlic Encrusted Halibut. A variety of fresh-cooked vegetables, including seven kinds of potatoes, salads, homemade desserts & an extensive selection of over 100 domestic & imported wines complete your dining experience. The problem I have though, having experienced the filet (pictured above), it's hard to bring myself to order anything else because I know I'll be missing out on the filet.
Ruth's Chris (RC) serves everything a la carte, so you'll need a few additions. For an appetizer, I've enjoyed both the Louisiana Seafood Gumbo and the Mushrooms Stuffed with Crabmeat (broiled mushroom caps with jumbo lump crab stuffing sprinkled with Romano cheese).
For your side, the Sliced Tomato and Onion (a sliced beefsteak tomato on a medley of lettuces, topped with sliced red onions, vinaigrette and bleu cheese crumbles) is something very simple and light to accompany the meat. For a potato, the mashed are a popular favorite, but I love the Steak Fries.
I've already drooled over the filet, but the Ribeye is also very good (as are all the steaks for that matter).
I can't say that I go to RC for the desserts, especially after such a heavy meal, but I've sampled the Chocolate Sin Cake and it was, well, chocolaty.
For all you fans of Morton's Steakhouse, we acknowledge that fine establishment and thoroughly enjoy the steaks there as well. After our next visit, the tide may well turn, but for today, the glory goes to Ruth's Chris Steak House, which we proclaim the Best Steakhouse in and around Tustin.