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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.

 

山田チカラ
Yamada Chikara
Address: 514 Piikoi Street, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: 808-592-8500
URL: www.yamadachikara-hnl.com

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January 1, 2017 / straymoon

Happy New Year 2017!

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Happy New Year!

I hope you are having a great start to the new year and to welcome 2017.

Let’s have another wonderful year!

Yumi Ozaki/Stray Moon

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新年あけましておめでとうございます。

昨年は何かとお世話になり、ありがとうございました。

本年もどうぞよろしくお願い申し上げます。

みなさまのご健康とご多幸を心よりお祈りいたします。

小嵜有美/Stray Moon

 

January 3, 2015 / straymoon

2015 has begun!

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Thank you very much for your support in 2014.

I hope you are having a great start to the new year.

In 2015 I continue to strive giving you the best service.

Yumi Ozaki/Stray Moon

(2015 is the year of the sheep in Chinese zodiac. The 2015 year of the Sheep is the inspiring period; it will try to leave behind unstable affairs and connections with the aim to carve a new more honest pattern of relations.)

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昨年はいろいろとお世話になり、ありがとうございました。

2015年も皆様にとりまして、素晴らしい年になりますことを心よりお祈り申し上げます。

本年もどうぞよろしくお願いいたします。

小嵜有美/Stray Moon

January 4, 2014 / straymoon

Happy New Year 2014!

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Happy New Year!

May this New Year brings you happiness in all you do.

Have another exciting and great year!

Yumi Ozaki/Stray Moon

(2014 is the year of the horse in Chinese zodiac.  Horse is energetic, hard working, and found of travel.)

__________________________________________

謹んで新春のご挨拶を申し上げます。

旧年中はいろいろとお世話になり、ありがとうございました。

皆様のご健康とご繁栄を心よりお祈り申し上げます。

なにとぞ本年もよろしくご指導とご鞭撻のほどお願いいたします。

小嵜有美/Stray Moon

January 1, 2013 / straymoon

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year!

Let this New Year be filled with happiness, joy and prosperity for you and all your loved ones.

Wish you have a great year ahead.

Yumi Ozaki

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謹んで新年のお祝いを申し上げます。

昨年は、大変お世話になりありがとうございました。

今年も昨年同様のご厚情を賜りますようよろしくお願い申し上げます。

皆様のご健康とご多幸を心よりお祈りいたします。

小嵜有美

March 7, 2012 / straymoon

A waste of trees

Every year in January I see a pile of new phone books in the lobby of my apartment building.  I’ve noticed that only a handful of them are taken by residents.  In a week or two, the same temporary people hired by the phone company to deliver them then return to collect the unwanted phone books.

Do we need phone books?

Do you have a phone book at home or office?  People who have land line phones are eligible to get them.  But many people, especially the younger generation, don’t have land line service any more.  While I won’t say I’m in the category of “younger generation,” I also gave up my land line service two years ago.  But in the past two years (maybe more like 10 years), I have never felt the need for a phone book.  When I need the phone number of some business, I go online.  I not only find the phone number on the internet, but also more information about the business.  I also don’t need to look up the phone number of people, because I don’t call people I don’t know.

What’s in the phone book?

I picked up a phone book from the stack and opened it to examine for the first time in many years.  Nothing has been changed: business names and phone numbers in small print along with many business ads raging from small to full-page spreads.  It’s obvious that these advertisers are covering the production costs of phone books, which also make a profit for the phone company.

What’s the future of the phone book?

I closed the phone book and walked away.  It seems pathetically sad and ironic for the phone company to promote paperless billing while printing so many unwanted phone books.  Why can’t  they just create online phone books?  Or if they want to keep printing phone books, can they at least create phone books with large print?  I’m sure many elderly people with no internet access would love a more user-friendly phone book.  Are mass-produced (and tree-killing) phone books really necessary?  When was the last time you looked up a number in a phone book?

February 20, 2012 / straymoon

Accepting change is hard to accept.

Hostess Brands, the maker of Twinkies, Sno Balls, Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and other snacks, announced last month that they have been seeking bankruptcy protection.  They are OK for now but they need to shape up their business to cut their high costs.

Do you remember those old days?

When I was in college, Twinkies were in every single vending machine on campus.  It was a great snack to satisfy my afternoon sugar craving.  I didn’t think it was bad for health.  I never thought about the long shelf life or mysterious ingredients in the sponge and cream concoctions.  It was simply tasty, sweet with a hint of saltiness.

Accepting change is hard to accept.

The biggest mistake Hostess Brands made was that they couldn’t follow the trend toward healthy lifestyles and couldn’t accept any changes.  It’s very sad.  We know that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  But in today’s marketplace, you need to learn new tricks and evolve your merchandise/service to survive.

Ideally, your new product or service should be a trend, not a fad.

We always look for a trend, not a fad.  A trend lasts for a long time but not a fad.  You need to have an eye to tell whether it’s a trend or fad.  Basically, if it’s good for consumers/clients, it will be a trend.

Hostess Brands is such an innovative baker of America’s most iconic snack cakes.  They came up with Twinkies in 1930 and SnoBalls in 1947.  If they could invent those extended shelf-life products in the 1930’s and 1940’s, they should be able to be innovative now.  Hope it’s not too late for them.

January 1, 2012 / straymoon

A Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year!

May the New Year bring you health, happiness and other good things.

Yumi Ozaki

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あけましておめでとうございます。

2012年の皆様のご健勝とご多幸をお祈り申し上げます。

小嵜有美

September 11, 2011 / straymoon

Presentation, presentation, presentation.

The other day I went to Wasabi Bistro at The Breakers Hotel in Waikiki for a drink and pupu.  Wasabi Bistro is a charming little hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant at the ground floor of the two-storied The Breakers Hotel, established in 1954.  Nothing fancy, no air-conditioning but you can feel the good old days of Waikiki in 50’s.  I like Wasabi Bistro because of their authentic and affordable menu with a little twist of Hawaiian and modern flavor.  And of course they have a good variety of Japanese sake.

Presentation is visual.

I ordered “Izumi Judan” from Yamagata, Japan which is a dry sake with rich savor.  It came in a beautiful cut glass tokkuri (sake serving flask) with two matching cups.  They all sat in a big ceramic bowl with ice and a fresh green leaf.  It was such a beautiful and pleasant presentation to see in the late afternoon of hot summer.  Just looking at this gave me an invigorating feeling even before tasting the refreshing sake.  I knew what I was going to get by ordering “Izumi Judan” but this surprising visual presentation added value.

Presentation is easy and doesn’t cost a lot.

By adding this big ceramic bowl, they have an extra bowl to wash in the kitchen.  By adding ice, they need to make extra ice in the freezer.  In order to add a fresh green leaf, they have to go out and cut a leaf at the hotel garden.  It takes minimal effort and cost to do these thing but the pleasure they can give to the restaurant patrons is much bigger.  Their hospitality and close attention to detail touch their heart.

Presentation, presentation, presentation.

The content has to be good because all customers expect to get the best value.  When they receive good product with nice presentation, they feel they receive much greater value than they actually paid for.  Presentation doesn’t need to be costly but needs some creativity.  If nice presentation make customers feel good, it’s worth to try.

August 30, 2011 / straymoon

How much would you like to pay?

I’m very old-fashioned when it comes to doing dishes.  I wear a pair of kitchen gloves.  Yes, those ugly kitchen gloves.  I started this ritual a long time ago when I had nicely manicured long nails.

I used to buy cheap yellow gloves for around $1.00 on sale at the local drugstore and have them in stock because they didn’t last long.  It seemed like every time I poked them with a tip of a fork or scratched them with a nail, they tore.  They usually lasted 2 weeks to 1 month.

A friend of mine recommended these hot pink kitchen gloves sold at Whole Foods Market.  I buy vegetables, fruits, bread and meat at Whole Foods Market but I never pay any attentions to these kitchen gadgets there.  I had to look for it but found it with other gloves.  However, it was almost $8.00, EXPENSIVE!  Should I buy it or not?  I was contemplating hard with a box (not a plastic bag for cheap ones) of pink kitchen gloves in my hand in the middle of the busy aisle of Whole Foods Market for a while.  Oh, well, I decided to buy it because my friend says it is good.  Now, I’ve been using it for about a month and I’m loving it.  The glove is thicker than cheap ones but still comfortable to wear it.  I can grab dishes, silverware, pots and pans easily.

Word of mouth is powerful.

While I was deciding to purchase the gloves, I read the box saying: Contoured for a perfect fit, Durable, 100% latex allows hands to breathe, Special pattern for safe grip of even the most delicate and fragile items, and on and on.  However, what made me decide to purchase is my friend’s words.  Actually my friend didn’t even use it but her friend used it and loved it.  I always trust her judgement on kitchen goods.  Word of mouth is much more powerful than those words on the box which the manufacture would pay so much money to copywriters to write.

Consumer decides value, not manufacturer.

I used to pay only $1.00 for a pair of kitchen gloves but now I will pay $8.00 for a pair with the same function but better quality.  I don’t mind paying 8 times more because what I get is of much greater value than the actual cost.  Manufacturers can come up with suggested retail price but consumers are the one who decide how much they want to spend in exchange for the value of the product.

Consumer is well educated and will pay more, based on the trusted word of a friend.