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Come Taste the Love at Sushi Rock

February 6, 2019, 11:15 AM HST (Updated January 29, 2019, 9:39 AM)
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Seared beef tenderloin nigiri at Sushi Rock. PC: Karen Rose

It’s been 16 years since native New Yorker Peter Pomeranze began what would be a creative and tasty adventure into the world of culinary creativity. Inspired by Hawai‘i Island’s bountiful local produce and food resources, Pomeranze put his own unique spin on sushi dishes and opened up his restaurant, Sushi Rock and Trio at Sushi Rock, in the heart of Hawi in North Kohala.

“The restaurant will be 16 years old on April 1, 2019, and a lot has changed since then,” said Pomeranze. “When I opened the restaurant, I was disappointed in how little use was being made of local products I knew were available. The buy- local movement was just starting, with Peter Merriman being one of the first to start it on this island. I felt it was important to find a niche in the movement.”

The original concept for the restaurant was to use as many local products as possible, and to put a spin on sushi by doing something original that was delicious, without being crazy.

Sake for two at Sushi Rock. PC: Karen Rose

“I’m a New Yorker and I love feeding people,” Pomeranze explained. “So, I started coming up with unique food combinations and learned that the rolls people react to the most are the ones that have contrast in every bite. It’s a delicate balance, because you have to find ingredients with flavors that can hold up individually, yet still blend at the same time. Truly, that’s the basis of everything I do here, even with the non-sushi dishes.”

Pomeranze suggests his customers read the ingredients. If it sounds weird for sushi, but they enjoy the ingredients in other forms, he guarantees they will love the roll. His unique sushi rolls are memorable, creating return customers who come from all over the world to eat at Sushi Rock.

His most popular roll is the Bombay Sunset.

Sushi Rock’s Bombay Sunset: ahi poke, curry slaw, fuji apple, sashimi or seared tenderloin. PC: Karen Rose

“People will come in the restaurant and request a roll they had five years ago,” he said. “I always ask if they are referring to the Bombay Sunset with Tenderloin and it’s always the case. The story behind that roll is it came to me in a dream. I have a little pad next to my bed and I write my dreams down when I wake up. I woke up one morning and I had written ‘poke, apple, curry, pesto.’ That became the Bombay Sunset. It ended up on the menu and unless someone doesn’t like curry, they go nuts over that roll.”

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The menu pushes the boundaries of traditional sushi recipes and does so with style and flare. The dishes are as delicious as they are unique, creating a truly extraordinary culinary experience.

However, it’s not just the menu Pomeranze is proud of, but also his staff, who he has great respect for.

Purple Sweet Potato Cheesecake with macadamia nut crust and coconut maple drizzle at Sushi Rock. PC: Karen Rose

“I have amazing employees, without whom I could never do this,” he said. “I’m proud of hiring people who grew up here. I try to teach them what a healthy work ethic is. I believe if you do your job well, and you do it with a good attitude, then you deserve to be respected and well paid. Because of that, I’ve been fortunate to attract amazing employees who support my vision, and I support them. It’s not just me. I may be the captain, but these people share my vision and are a vital part of its success.”

Pomeranze believes everyone who walks through his door is a guest and a friend, and should be treated as such.

“’Come Taste the Love’ is the philosophy that guides us,” said Pomeranze. “Every plate is prepared with care and pride, and presented with the hope that you can feel and taste the love we put into it.”

Sushi Rock and Trio at Sushi Rock is located in the historic Hawi Hale building on the edge of Hawi town in North Kohala at  55-3435 Akoni Pule Highway. The restaurant is open daily from noon to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 8 p.m. (Friday and Saturday until 9 p.m.).

Karen Rose
Karen Rose is a writer and journalist living on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Her writing focuses on food, wine, travel, arts and entertainment. She never met a food she didn't like—except black licorice.
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