photography by Jordan Weiland
prop styling by Lisa Malott of Wish Vintage Rentals

Bruce Yoo and Hana You, owners of the New Moon Sushi Japanese Restaurant, grew up in South Korea. Although Bruce was born into a family of professors who dreamed he’d follow the same path, he had a different set of aspirations: to one day become a chef. Both Bruce and Hana have chemical engineering degrees, and, for a time, Bruce worked as an engineer at the largest gas company in Korea. “But I didn’t like my job,” he says, “so I quit!” And the pursuit of his dream began. Bruce enrolled in a culinary arts school in Seoul where he studied Japanese cuisine, while Hana happily supported her husband in pursuing his passion.

When you experience New Moon, it is clear that Hana is a giving and nurturing woman. She instantly makes you feel welcomed and part of the family. Meanwhile, Bruce is behind the sushi bar intently slicing whole fish and preparing each roll with care.

Lakeland is lucky to have two entrepreneurs like Hana and Bruce. In fact, I can personally relate to exactly what brought them here: failure. It is the underestimated, but completely necessary, ingredient to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Bruce’s first attempt at opening his dream sushi restaurant, before settling here in Lakeland, was in Atlanta, Georgia. Some may have called that a failure and encouraged him to stop there, but Bruce took advantage of the lessons. So when a “good business opportunity opened,” Lakeland gained a beautiful couple and a fantastic new sushi restaurant, while Bruce and Hana found a new place to feel at home. They’ve been married for 13 years (picture Bruce counting with every finger). When asked about children, there was a quick, “Not yet!”

New Moon has been in Lakeland for three years, and we’re not sure who is more excited about their success, them or us! If you haven’t had the chance to experience their food for yourself, here we show you some of the restaurant’s most popular items, including some of their (and my) favorites.

In Japanese culture, sushi is considered an art, because how it looks is just as important as how it tastes. From different regions of Japan, chefs roll and arrange sushi on a plate according to their own style. In respect to these traditions, our modern world enables us to create our own interpretation of this art form.


I have experienced authentic sushi in an underground New York restaurant. And modern sushi, filled with steak, blue cheese, red onion, and spinach. And I feel privileged to have had them both. When I was eating the modern roll, I wondered, would “authentic” sushi chefs scoff at the idea of sushi being filled with such non-traditional ingredients? Is it OK to take something original, twist it up, and innovate something of our own? Yes! In our modern world, that is what we do. We remix, recreate, and build on things that we love. We are not originals, and that is OK. We are the combined influence of those who came before.

Knowing this, even the pickiest eater can create a sushi roll they’d enjoy! Time in the kitchen should always be fun. So, further on in our story, I have included one of my favorite sushi recipes. I urge you to try it, and try some of your very own. I personally find that remixing is easiest when you simply think of some of your favorite dishes. For instance, if you’re a lover of Latin food, a rice roll filled with roasted pork and plantains, topped with a chimichurri and chipotle aioli could be the roll for you! Be free. Make mistakes. It’s just food. You’ll live.

All the love, from a fellow Lakelander’s kitchen,


[item title=”SIMPLE SUSHI”]

2 cups sushi rice
2 cups water
4 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp mirin

Ignore the directions provided on the rice bag, and rinse the rice only three to five times. The water does NOT have to run clear.

Place rice to drain in a strainer. Drain for 30 minutes.

While rice is draining, combine vinegar, sugar, salt, and mirin together in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Put the rice and the two cups of water in a pan. Quickly bring the rice and water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and DO NOT touch it until the end. NO PEEKING! Cook for 15 minutes before removing the pot from the heat, but keep the lid CLOSED. Let the rice rest for 10 minutes and then remove the lid.

Place the rice in a glass dish to cool and lightly fan the rice while adding the vinegar mixture. Mix the rice gently. Sushi rice is best used when just warm.

Filling Ingredients:

sushi-grade tuna
cream cheese
BBQ chicken
red onion
herb aioli
Place a nori sheet lengthwise on a bamboo rolling mat, shiny-side down. Position the sheet about 1 inch from the edge of the mat closest to you, leaving some of the bamboo mat exposed on either side of the nori sheet.

Wet your hands in cool water and take a handful of sushi rice. Place the rice in the center of the nori and use your fingers to spread the rice evenly over the nori. Be sure to leave a 3/4-inch strip of nori uncovered on the far side.

Place fish or meat and some julienne vegetable, cucumber, or avocado along the center of the rice. Be careful not to overfill the nori.

Place your fingertips over the fillings to hold them in place. Then, use your thumbs to lift up the edge of the bamboo rolling mat closest to you. Begin rolling the mat away from you, while applying pressure to the fillings to keep the roll firm. Roll the mat over slowly until it covers the rice and the near and far sides of rice join, still leaving the 3/4-inch strip of nori, rice-free, exposed.

While holding the bamboo mat in position, apply pressure to the roll with your fingers to make the roll firm.

Slice the roll in half, then cut both rolls twice to make eight equal-sized pieces.

Repeat this process with various fillings, nori, and rice.