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Trio making their mark with Hilo’s Full Moon Cafe

Updated: 
January 19, 2014 - 10:37pm

The new owners of Hilo restaurant Full Moon Cafe have a menu that changes about as often as the weather.

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.

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 Nobu Fifty Seven and Roy’s. Now, they have taken over Full Moon Cafe on Kalakaua Street in downtown Hilo and are set on 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.

The name represents the kind of food the trio plans 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.

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 Farmers 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 farmers market,” Soni said. “And then Mark will get the fish and 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 said 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 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, farmers 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; and, the restaurant’s signature sashimi salad, featuring bigeye tuna, hydroponic lettuce and a sweet onion/soy dressing.

As a result of their emphasis on fresh ingredients and a rotating menu, the Pomaskis said 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 or call the restaurant at 961-0599.

Full Moon Cafe is located at 51 Kalakaua St. in Hilo. Mondays, it opens for a late lunch from 1 p.m. until service is complete; dinner services runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Lunch begins at 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; dinner is served from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.