In Gloucester, Ohana marries bold flavors from the Hawaiian islands with continental touches. By Anna and David Kasabian – Photograph by Anthony Tieuli
The new American cuisine movement, now in full swing across the country, recently arrived in Gloucester with the opening of Ohana. Here, chef/owner Enx Dadulas makes magic from ingredients, ideas, and techniques spanning French, Italian, Japanese, Hawaiian, Peruvian, and other cuisines in ways that nod to our American-melting-pot culture—and that other chefs, frankly, just never before imagined. The result is a menu that’s ambitious, eclectic, and mildly eccentric, and the food itself is simply beautiful.
Take, for instance, the Cape Ann Lobster Duo appetizer with half a butter-poached lobster served two ways: tail section aside a fluffy mascarpone risotto and the rest diced into a refreshing avocado lobster salad seasoned with smoked corn-infused vinaigrette. This dish, like everything else we ate, is elaborate, sophisticated, and delicious.
The outstanding Ginger Beef Stuffed Fried Pan are panko-crusted dumplings stuffed with shredded, ginger-flavored beef. Also on the plate are housemade kimchee, pickled cucumber namasu, and a spicy curry chili paste called ko chu jang. Eating these together creates a harmony of contrasting tastes, temperatures, and textures, as well as a pleasing degree of heat.
Next: the Kabayaki Avocado & Ahi Roll with fresh mint, cucumber, shiitake mushroom, and a ceviche marinade made with juice from the Asian citrus, yuzu. Each ingredient was distinct, flavorful, and fresh; more evidence of excellent ingredients and meticulous execution by Dadulas and his team.
For the Misoyaki Marinated Butterfish, Dadulas marinates a filet of white-fleshed sable fish for two days in his miso mixture. It is then roasted and plated with vegetable sushi wrapped in crispy nori, tempura long beans, and ethereal wasabi uni kabayaki butter. It’s another delectable treat for the taste buds.
The excellent Teriyaki Glazed Duck Roulade is a signature dish. It features bacon-wrapped duck breast stuffed with cinnamon-laced apples, perched atop a luxurious dollop of deep purple Okinawan sweet potato and served with a demi glace made of Calvados French apple brandy and kabayaki sauce.
For dessert, the Warm Pineapple Upside Down Tart is a fabulous mash-up of French, Hawaiian, and Italian cuisine, featuring baked and caramelized pineapple with tarragon caramel, milk chocolate mascarpone crème, and ricotta ice cream.
Inspired by a favorite childhood dessert prepared by his mother, Dadulas’s Hawaiian Lilikoi Cake brings together the sweet-tart taste of passion fruit with a rich yet feather-light cake. This is served with macadamia nut praline, a coconut tuile, and a brushstroke of papaya glaze.
Located along Gloucester’s Main Street, Ohana is intimate and artsy, boldly painted in colors of the sky, sun, and sea. There is a comfortable bar area in front and an informal dining room—with water views—in back. Ohana is completely unlike any restaurant Gloucester has ever seen, yet somehow it seems to fit right in.
Chef/Owner: Enx Dadulas. Sushi: Kabayaki Avocado & Ahi Roll ($13). Appetizers: Cape Ann Lobster Duo ($17), Ginger Beef Stuffed Fried Pan ($8). Entreés: Misoyaki Marinated Butterfish ($29), Teriyaki Glazed Duck Roulade ($24). Desserts: Warm Pineapple Upside Down Tart ($10), Hawaiian Lilikoi Cake ($8). Location: 151 Main Street, Gloucester, 978-283-3200, ohanacapeann.com.