Tired of the same old same old every time you go out for a bite in East Hawaii?
Then the new owners of Hilo restaurant Full Moon Cafe have a menu that should grab your attention — one that changes about as often as the weather in Hilo.
Born and reared in Hilo, brothers Tedd and Mark Pomaski, along with Mark’s wife, Soni, returned to Hawaii Island recently after pursuing restaurant careers on the mainland, and decided they should go into business together. After getting married, Mark and Soni said they were looking to start a family and could think of nowhere better to do so.
“This is home,” Mark said simply.
“We grew up here. We fished. We swam. We ate opihi off the rocks,” added Tedd.
Together, the trio have an impressive list of work experience in the restaurant industry at locations in Hawaii and on both coasts of the mainland, including positions at big-name eateries like Nobu Fifty Seven and Roy’s. Now, they have taken over Full Moon Cafe on Kalakaua Street in downtown Hilo and have set themselves to making their mark on the restaurant scene.
“It closed on Friday (Oct. 4) and we opened for business on Monday,” Tedd said.
The new owners decided to retain the restaurant’s name, in part because the liquor license remains under Full Moon Cafe, Soni said.
“We’re planning on changing it to Moon and Turtle,” she said.
The name represents the kind of food that the trio plan to continue serving at the restaurant, they said.
“It’s a mixture of the very high, and the very low. We’re taking elevated food and mixing it with the simple,” Mark said.
For now, though, the name will remain the same.
One thing that will rarely remain the same, however, is the menu. The concept of the restaurant is to highlight the fresh ingredients found daily from multiple sources around the island, including the Hilo Farmer’s Market.
“We’ll pick something, either because we’re excited by the product or we’re craving it ourselves,” Tedd said.
“Tedd’s usually in first in the morning, and he’ll get the vegetables for the whole day down at the farmer’s market,” Soni said. “And then Mark will get the fish and/or the meat.”
The group comes up with new items for their menus on an almost daily basis, and have even taken to decorating the restaurant with origami lanterns folded from their old menus. The Pomaskis say their goal is to “surprise and delight” their customers with a fusion of modern cookery and the unique blending of cultures found in the food they grew up with in Hilo.
“Mark has a heavy background in sushi … so we knew we wanted to put a heavy emphasis on local fish,” Tedd said. “And we want to use as much local food as possible. We have such a strong farming culture here. … And we want to serve the food the fishermen and farmers want to eat, while elevating it.”
Such influences have given rise to a wildly flavorful and unique number of dishes that come and go from the menus. Among those that the restaurant has served so far:
• Spicy ahi tartare with Rainbow Acres arugula, pickled daikon radish, and fingerling potato chips;
• Pan-roasted mahi fillet, with purple potato dumplings, farmer’s market vegetables, Kulana wild boar sausage, and a Hawaiian snapper/tomato reduction;
• A meatball bun, featuring a blend of traditional beef, pork and lamb, with marinara, mozzarella, and basil, served on a Short N’ Sweet Bakery &Cafe bun, with fries;
• Pan-roasted fillet of market fish with hand-pulled spaetzle, farmer’s market vegetables, in a Hawaiian snapper/mahi-bone broth;
• Tet Caw — a Vietnamese style caramelized Big Island pork belly and eggs, with beluga lentils and sour cucumber;
• Cake noodle shrimp, with market vegetables, crispy/chewy egg noodle, and oyster/garlic sauce;
• and, the restaurant’s signature dish, sashimi salad, featuring Bigeye tuna, hydroponic lettuce, and a sweet onion/soy dressing.
As a result of their emphasis on fresh ingredients and an ever rotating menu of dishes, the Pomaskis said that they will, on occasion, run out of items.
“We don’t want to disappoint anyone, but we also want to make sure we’re only using the best, freshest ingredients,” Tedd said. “We don’t want to have a freezer filled with food.”
For more information on the restaurant, and to see photos and descriptions of the trio’s newest dishes, search for “Full Moon Cafe” on Facebook.
Photos of their food can also be found on Instagram at @happysashimi, @coffeevixen, and @fullmoontedd.
Or, call the restaurant at (808) 961-0599.
Full Moon Cafe is located at 51 Kalakaua St. in Hilo.
The restaurant is closed on Sundays. Mondays, it will open for a late lunch from 1 p.m. until service is complete. The restaurant then closes down to prepare for dinner service, which runs from 5:30-9 p.m.
Tuesdays through Saturdays, lunch begins at 11 a.m. Dinner runs from 5:30-9 p.m.
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.