New chef, mouth-watering Euro-Asian dishes energize Cala’s in Manchester.
By Anna and David Kasabian
A few chefs have come and gone at this pleasant little restaurant in downtown Manchester-by-the-Sea. Each came with their own style, but none, until now, has brought such a spectacular show of imagination and first-rate cooking as Cala’s new chef, Enx Dadulas, who trained under chef Roy Yamaguchi in Hawaii. We hope he likes it here, because we are loving what comes out of his kitchen. His delectable Euro-Asian-style creations prove his mastery of putting the unusual together with the familiar, combining everyday and exotic ingredients into a memorable culinary experience.
First, the Hawaiian coconut shrimp appetizer: four substantial shrimp coated with a light batter and fresh coconut, then deep fried and served aside slices of sweet-pickled vegetables and a perky little sweet-and-hot sauce of fresh pineapple and wasabi. Mouthwatering.
Next, the stuffed chicken roulade appetizer; a symphony of intense flavors. It appears as three perfectly round and generously sliced disks, comprised of teriyaki-marinated chicken breast stuffed with caramelized apples, cinnamon, and mushrooms wrapped in a wisp of tasty, crunchy bacon. It is all perched on a deep purple mound of mashed Okinawa sweet potatoes, which are not sweet, but smoky and savory-a terrific contrast to the bright, fresh flavors elsewhere on the plate. This, in turn, sits in pools of two spectacular sauces, one a reduction of soy sauce and veal stock finished with Calvados, a French apple brandy, and the other a buerre blanc, the classic French butter and wine sauce.
Now our expectations were seriously elevated. Happily, the main course of misoyaki-marinated butterfish did not disappoint. A pan-seared filet of white-fleshed black cod is served with crunchy panko-crusted vegetable sushi and a tower of tempura long beans. And of course, two sauces, one an ocean-fresh wasabi uni kabayaki butter sauce with soy and sweet rice wine, plus a sweet and tangy ginger-wasabi butter sauce for a little rounded heat. What a wonderful adventure of tastes and textures!
From the smart wine list, with nearly every established wine-producing region in the world spoken for, we chose the Di Lendardo Pinot Grigio from Fruili, Italy, a crisp, clean, and fruity affair with sufficient character to shine amid the fireworks of flavors on our plates.
For dessert: Enx’s reimagining of his mother’s revered lilikoi bread pudding, a concoction that is all at once moist, creamy, sweet, tart, smooth, and crumbly, infused with tropical fruit and Vermont maple syrup. A perfect ending.
In some ways, this is just like the Cala’s we have been dining at for years-a cozy room with a neighborhood feel, and a relaxed yet and knowledgeable staff. However, the creations of this talented young chef have transformed Cala’s into something else entirely: true destination dining that you should not miss.
The Menu 7 Beach St., Manchester, 978-525-3304, calasrestaurant.com. Chef: Enx Dadulas. Apppetizer: Stuffed chicken roulade with caramelized apples, cinnamon, mushrooms, and bacon ($12). Entree: Misoyaki-marinated butterfish with nori crisped vegetable sushi, tempura long beans, and wasabi uni kabayaki butter ($25). Dessert: Passion fruit pie served with a buttery maple syrup sauce, plus strawberries, blueberries, mango, and a butter wafer cookie. ($8)