Hawaii Island Week: Moon & Turtle Restaurant

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The story of the Moon and Turtle restaurant and how it came to be is best told by the husband and wife co-owners Mark and Soni Pomaski.

“Mark was at the point in his career that he felt ownership would be the next step. But, before that we felt like we wanted to broaden our horizons and challenge ourselves by moving to a larger city than HNL. We had just gotten married and the year before had taken our first trip together to NYC. During that trip, we both saw the appeal and benefit of moving there and decided after getting married to take the chance. The goal was always to spend just 2 years there, soaking up the city and gathering inspiration. Those two years were incredibly informative and inspirational in our careers, and play a huge roll in what we do every day here.What was originally envisioned as a small ‘Mom & Pop’ sushi shop with limited service, grew to be a full service restaurant. Mark’s brother Tedd, who had moved back to Hilo after many years in NYC had come across a location in downtown Hilo a few months before we were supposed to move back home. He sent an email with the listing to us which we opened while sitting in a Philly Cheesesteak bar in the city we used to Pau Hana at. I remember looking at the listing and pictures and while it was beautiful, it was WAY too big for what we had imagined and would require a full staff to operate it. While discussing it together, the music nothing but background noise to us at that point moved to the next song, and it was Henehene Kou Aka, by Bruddah IZ, which we took to be a sign. From that point on, while we didn’t decide we’d take the space, I think somewhere we both knew it seemed inevitable. Upon arriving back in Hilo, one of our first weeks here, we ended up walking up Kalakaua Street and saw the spot in person. The owner happened to be there that day, and as they say, one thing lead to another and suddenly we were on our way to opening a full-scale restaurant. 
Mark’s brother Tedd came on as a partner for the first year and the 3 of us opened our doors on October 7th 2013.”

The menu, which changes frequently and is posted daily on the restaurants Facebook page, consists of 5 small plates and 3 large ones.

Food arrives from the kitchen as it is ready and so the best way to enjoy a meal with us is to order for the table and plan on sharing, family style.

The Signature dish is The Smokey Sashimi. Mark was inspired by Nobuʻs Yellowtail Jalapeno dish.  During his time working at Nobu he was struck by how popular the dish was, how delicious it was, and how easy it was to execute.  

It also told a bit of Nobu Sanʻs personal story.  Mark wanted to recreate a dish with those qualities and drew upon flavors of his childhood:

The smell of smoke that hangs around houses in Hilo as people smoke fish and meat and chili pepper water, a classic condiment on any local table.

Itʻs finished with extra virgin olive oil and daikon.

It’s best to make reservations by calling 808-961-0599 and visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/moonandturtle
 

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