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January 5, 2020 / straymoon

New year, new decade, and new Stray Moon in 2020!


Happy New Year! Wishing you and your family health, happiness, and prosperity in the new year.


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

January 1, 2017 / straymoon

Happy New Year 2017!


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






小嵜有美/Stray Moon


January 3, 2015 / straymoon

2015 has begun!


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.)





小嵜有美/Stray Moon

January 4, 2014 / straymoon

Happy New Year 2014!


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.)






小嵜有美/Stray Moon

January 1, 2013 / straymoon

Happy New Year!


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







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





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.