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June 24, 2018 / straymoon

[Oahu] It opened quietly.

This is a summarized translation of my Japanese blog.

Earlier this month, fusion restaurant “Yamada Chikara” opened on Piikoi Street, near Ichiriki in the former Kohnotori space. It’s easily visible with the black wooden wall facing the street and has a small sign on the right of the entrance with the menu on the left.


Once you step in behind the black wooden wall, the any noise from Piikoi Street disappears.


At the front of the door there was a deadbolt in place of a doorknob. How do I get in I said to myself. Is this a private restaurant for an exclusive audience? It took me a minute or so to figure out that all what I need to do is to grab the long black vertical bar and pull it to open the door. Whew!



From the entrance, you’ll find an authentic tea-ceremony room and a tea counter. There are several tables and counter seats in the back. It’s a serene space with dark floors and a wooden interior.

Chef Chikara Yamada is originally from Shizuoka, Japan. After some culinary training he went to Europe to hone his culinary skills further. After closing his two restaurants in Barcelona, Spain, he worked for Ferran Adrià of elBulli, a Michellin 3-star restaurant in Catalonia. elBulli was notorious as one of the most difficult restaurants in the world to get a reservation. Ferran Adrià is well known for creating espuma, culinary foam. Chef Yamada returned to Japan and spread his knowledge of espuma. Currently, there is a restaurant in Tokyo, Japan with his name along side another restaurant in New York, and now in Honolulu.

They offer one “omakase” menu but there are some choices you need to make. The menu will be changed every three months.

  • Today’s Oshinogi (choose rice)
  • Cocktail
  • Appetizers (choose 2 items from 6)
  • Hot-and-Cold Surprising Appetizer
  • Main Dish (choose 1 item from 5)
  • Dish (choose 1 item from 3)
  • Dessert (choose 1 item from 3)
  • Tea Drink (choose 1 item from 4)

Depending what you choose, there might be some extra cost. Check the menu on the iPad when you order.


【Today’s Oshinogi】Caviar Rice, Miso Soup & Sesame Tofu, Today’s Muouzuke
Oshinogi is a small carbodehydrate served after the appetizer in a traditional Kaiseki Ryori which is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. It’s interesting to see rice in the beginning of the course but don’t worry because it’s not much. A generous amount of caviar on rice, sesame tofu in sweet white miso, and blenched oyster with shredded vegetables and homemade ponzu are nice way to start dinner.


【Cocktail】Homemade Olive
It’s a gelé of olive. The texture is very different from an actual olive but deep flavor is certainly there.


【Cocktail】Watermelon Gazpacho
It wasn’t as sweet as I assumed, but very refreshing and nice way to cleanse the palette.


【Appetizer】Truffle Vichyssoise
Light and smooth texture vicyyssoise with summer truffles. Naturally summer truffle is less flavorful and having it with cold dish didn’t help.


【Appetizer】Spanish Omelet
The Spanish Omelet is one of the Chef Yamada’s signature dishes. It’s hard to see from this photo but there is caramelized onion at the bottom, potato espuma in the middle, a whipped egg and summer truffles on the top. You mix everything well right before eating. It exudes a lovely sweet flavor of onion and the light but flavorful potato with truffle fragrance is heavenly.


【Appetizer】Tomato & Marinated Shrimp Capellini
Lighly marinated sweet shrimp is as fresh as sashimi or sushi. The tartness of tomato and sweetness of shrimp makes this a refreshing summer pasta.

【Hot-and-Cold Surprising Appetizer】Quinoa
This is nothing short of a surprise to the menu. A server brought out a black bowl with fine light yellowish powder and poured in hot consommé over it. I first tried the fine powder. It’s a bit chilled and melted in my month. I knew I’ve tried this before and I liked it but I couldn’t figure out what it is. It had an interesting deep flavor with hint of aromatic sweetness. Finally the server told me that it’s a freeze-dried foir gras and miso with liquid nitrogen. It’s a dish to enjoy both chilled and with warmth at a same time.


【Main Dish】Teriyaki Grilled Foie Gras
I love foir gras but I’ve never had it teriyak- style before. Sweet and salty teriyaki sauce actually goes well with foir gras. Placing teriyaki foie gras on rice might make a great donburi. The main dish comes with fingerling potatoes and lightly cooked vegetables in Japanese broth.


【Dish】Japanese Style Omelet Rice
Japanese Style Omelet Rice comes with a nice filet of snapper meat in it.


【Dish】Sauce Mentaiko Udon Noodles
My friend ordered skinny udon with sauce made of mentaiko (spicy cod roe), potato, and cream.


【Dessert】Crème Brûlée & Caramel Ice Cream
I was so full by this time. However, homestyle crème brûlée with caramel ice cream is perfect way to end dinner.


【Tea Drink】Yamada Family Yabukita Green Tea
After dinner we moved to the tea counter where they make freshly tempered tea right in front us using perfect temperature hot water. They serve tea from Chef Yamada’s family farm.

Upon his return from Spain, Chef Yamada didn’t open a Spanish restaurant in Japan. However, he found his own style. He fused his experiences in Japan and Europe. He must be able to see Japan in different angles from outside of Japan. Now his cuisine transcends boundaries. I call it “fusion cuisine” but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate or not.


Yamada Chikara
Address: 514 Piikoi Street, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: 808-592-8500

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