A master of fusion in life and work, Enx Dadulas is bringing his global acumen to a new Gloucester restaurant.
Ohana is scheduled to open by the middle of this month at 151 Main St.
Like the Amazing Race — minus the missteps — the menu prizes ingenuity in exotic settings, or, in this case, intricate platings, swooping through ingredients rarely on one continent (macadamia nuts, yuzu ceviche, braised oxtail, haddock burrito, gnocchi, quail egg, szechuan calamari, lilikai cake) never mind on one menu.
A native Hawaiian (that is, a mix of Hawaiian, Chinese and Filipino), Dadulas, 36, honed his culinary skills there, beginning in his teens.
He spent 11 years as a proté©gé© of the James Beard award-winning "Top Chef Masters" and PBS star Roy Yamaguchi. To diversify, he also cheffed at prestigious L'uraku, a French and Japanese restaurant in Honolulu, and at the award-wining Sarentos, with its Northern Italian cuisine.
Dadulas moved to Boston in 2007 to further expand his gastronomic universe, working with the city's most lauded chefs, including Barbara Lynch at B&G Oysters, Jean Joho of Brasserie Jo and Jamie Mammano of the acclaimed Tuscan trattoria, L'Andana, in Burlington.
Another reason he came here was so his fiancé© and co-owner, Alyssa Cohen, could get her master's degree from Johnson & Wales. A registered dietician, Cohen also managed the catering arm of Legal Sea Foods. She will run the front of the house, he said.
They plan to wed in June of next year, already having had to postpone the ceremony to tend to the new business arrival.
"Since moving to Boston," Dadulas said of the couple, who met in Hawaii although Cohen is from Newton, "it's been our dream to have our own place."
A modern-day Marco Polo, Dadulas husbanded the skills and flavors of his travels for his interpretation of "the new American cuisine: Asian spiced, with French and Italian techniques" at Ohana, which means family, to open in the space formerly occupied by Expresso.
While he awaits the okay for his seasonal liquor license (full bar, April 1 through January 15), Dadulas oversees a swarm of construction workers, painters, electricians, and aspiring cooks. He is hiring for all positions in what will be the 69-seat bistro. Sous chef is Andy Welch.
Dadulas said he will be using local suppliers, such as Intershell, Halibut Jack and Captain Joe and Sons for seafood, as well as produce from local urban farmers.
He also said he aims to keep the menu mid-priced.
Locating here, he said, helped the bottomline and he hopes will attract a repeat clientele year-round from all over Essex County, as well as beachgoers, tourists and day trippers. All dishes are under $30, and a special three-course prix fixe meal offers dinner for $45, with wine pairings, for $70.
Appetizers include sushi, risotto, or crepes; entrees "Maike Kae & Aina ("from the sea to the land") comprise lemongrass seared scallops ($26) or bacon/mushroom crusted filet mignon ($29), and teriyaki glazed duck roulade with Okinawan sweet potato, cinnamon apples and calvados kabayaki demi.
In addition to salads, burgers and sandwiches ($9-14), lunch and brunch at Ohana will present Mongolian grilled ribs, wild mushroom pizzetta and chicken Milanese with roasted tomato, cipollini, lemon arugala salad and fettuccini carbonara.
Desserts include pineapple upside down tart and chocolate banana split cake for $10 and $11, respectively.
Nancy Gaines is a regular Times correspondent, a veteran journalist and a writer and editor with Boston-based and national publications.