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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: The Café at Dada

Restaurant Insider

March 28, 2021

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

(Front, from left) Anne Lee, The Café at Dada chef/owner Cyrus Goo, (back) assistant chef John Kendrick, waiter Layne Kishi and sous chef Clayton Blas showcase the eatery’s offerings.

ANNE LEE speaks with The Café at Dada chef/owner CYRUS GOO

Tucked away on the third floor of Ala Moana Hotel is a delicious café and pastry shop located next to trendy Dada Salon.

Richie Miao expanded this concept into a new joint venture Jan. 15: Dada Spa, Salon & Café.

Charcuterie ($16)

Celebrated chef Cyrus Goo, known for his previous restaurant Café Laufer, is at the helm of the culinary offerings at The Café at Dada.

I had a chance to meet with Cyrus and explore the menu and learn about the concept. This is one-of-a kind, as no other location offers hair, nail and massage services, a walk-in health clinic and a fabulous café all in one location.

Hot Pastrami Sandwich ($17)

AL: How did you get into the restaurant industry?

CG: My mother cooked on a regular basis, but my dad cooked for special occasions — he actually owned a restaurant called A Cup of Gold on Bethel Street during World War II — and my grandmother was a fantastic baker. My aunt also owned a restaurant, so I guess you can say it was in my genes to be in this industry.

My first big restaurant opportunity was at Kahala Hilton. From there, my career took off. I went to work at Hawaiian Regent and Bakery Europa, and I opened up Sheraton Princeville on Kauai.

AL: Tell me a little bit about your team.

Linguine Scallops ($32)

CG: I have a fantastic crew; I really couldn’t do this without them. My assistant chef is John Kendrick. He worked with me at Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, and he was willing to take on the challenge of working at a new restaurant.

Clayton Blas is my sous chef. I was at the grocery store looking for basil, and he comes up to me to say hello at 6:30 in the morning. We started talking, and he remembered me from the food service program at Farrington High School. He was looking for a job in the industry, so I hired him. He is only 18 but really ambitious. Front-of-house is Layne Kishi, who is outgoing and very talkative.

It’s very hard to find people with the same work ethic to provide a level of service that I want to create and put out there. This team that I have does just that.

AL: What is type of cuisine will you be specializing in?

CG: Everyone asks me if I specialize in French, German, American or local, and my response is it is all of those. It’s a little bit of everything — comfort food and old classics that you can’t necessarily find.

Classic Veal Schnitzel ($28)

AL: What are some customer favorites?

CG: Our Gourmet Meatloaf ($24) is popular. Initially, meatloaf is basic and plain, and everyone has their interpretation of this dish. We pan-fry ours to give it that crust on the outside. It’s served with oven-roasted potatoes and assorted fresh vegetables sautéed in butter.

I really love a good pastrami sandwich (ours is $17). The pastrami we use was voted No. 1 on the Pacific West Coast. We make our own German rye bread inhouse, and we grind the caraway seeds and add it into the dough for more flavor.

I included a Charcuterie ($16) option to provide guests something to nibble on. We have brie cheese, salami, prosciutto, nuts, craisins, olives and French bread.

Our Linguine Scallops ($32) uses imported Italian pasta, and the scallops are U.S. main dry scallops (not injected with water). They range about 2-3 inches across — a very generous size — with a choice of a tomato basil Napolitana sauce or a garlic crème sauce.

I use to do an Oktoberfest at Café Laufer, and I have an affinity for German food. In the Classic Veal Schnitzel ($28), we make our own breadcrumbs, hand-bread the veal and pan-fry it in olive oil and butter. It’s served with mushroom sauce and spaetzle, braised red cabbage and in-house baked German rye bread.

AL: Tell me a little more about the menu.

CG: Every so often, I like to take a few items off and add something new. Every couple of days we will offer a special of the day. Even with my pastries, there isn’t a list of what we will have that day. When something sells out, I make something else. It’s all based on what products are available to be able to make my signature pastries.

AL: You are also known for your coffee. Tell us more about that.

CG: I was doing sales for a chocolate company out of Switzerland.

The headquarters were in Maryland, and when we went to visit, they offered us this amazing cup of coffee that came out with this delicious crème on top. I took a sip of that and fell in love with it. The first thing I bought for Café Laufer was that coffee machine before anything else. Soon, other restaurants followed, and we, of course, offer this here at Dada Spa, Salon & Cafe.

AL: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

CG: I am so happy to see my customers again. They are slowly finding out that we are here. We are also working on some nice wines and bar options. Right now, we will offer wine and beer.

Finally, we also offer an all-day breakfast ($14) — three eggs your way, with applewood-smoked bacon, Portuguese sausage and hash browns.

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