926 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
Gaslamp newcomer, Full Moon Sushi, spent extra time in the buildout phase, but that’s OK, since the restaurant ended up with a very chic look. Mid-century American cues combine with Japanese-ish touches, like the shōji-inspired suspended ceiling above the sushi bar, to give the place a kind of 21st-century You Only Live Twice appearance.
Full Moon bills itself as “luxurious yet affordable,” which is basically the opposite of reality. With prices approaching upscale sushi joints like current-favorite Shino, affordable is the wrong word for Full Moon. A couple, drinking sake and ordering freely, could easily get up to $100/person, with some individual orders of nigiri running $10/piece.
Expectations run high at such costs, and Full Moon looks on paper as if it could deliver, but the results don’t hold up. With a few dishes, the kitchen is obviously trying. Shave ice oysters on the half shell ($11) are a cool idea, but the experience of actually eating the dish is rather unpleasant. Since oysters are a one-bite food, the frigid dollop of asian pear shave ice spooned onto each oyster is an unavoidable blast of cold, straight to the ice cream headache zone. Here is a prime example of a well-intentioned dish that simply doesn’t work.
Inexactitude plagues the sushi. The rice is too sweet, too sticky, and insufficiently toothsome to have the real character of great rice. Expensive fish shines on its own, but the more difficult fishes reveal imperfect technique. Over-cured and roughly handled mackerel is the worst, but even medium-expensive selections like various sea breams don’t receive elegant treatment, and end up tasting muddled and indistinct. The tamago is too sweet, and the amberjack needs more of a citrus dressing.
These are the kinds of things that shouldn’t be a problem at Blue Moon’s price point. We’re not talking outright bad sushi here—it’s OK at best—but the asking prices are in no way justified, and it’s impossible to favor the restaurant with anything beyond a “meh.”