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New Cafe Brings Farm-Fresh Brunch and Himalayan Cuisine to Woodside

By Jeanmarie Evelly | May 6, 2016 2:05pm | Updated on May 8, 2016 6:08pm
 Dawa's, at 51-18 Skillman Ave., offers seasonal American fare as well as authentic Tibetan dishes.
Dawa's on Skillman Avenue
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WOODSIDE — A new restaurant and cafe on Skillman Avenue is serving up dual menus, offering seasonal American fare as well as authentic Himalayan cuisine.

Dawa's, between 51st and 52nd streets, offers "new American" options — like brunch with pancakes, French toast and baked eggs — and a separate list of "ethnic plates" inspired by owner and chef Dawa Bhuti's native Nepal and India, where she grew up.

"I want this as authentic as it can be," said Bhuti, 33, who opened the restaurant with her father, also a cook, and her uncle.

They took over the business that formerly occupied the space, Lety's Bakery and Cafe II, last year and ran it the same as it was before, only converting it to Dawa's about three weeks ago.

"I wanted to open a place for a long time," said Bhuti, saying they chose to offer two menus so as not to limit themselves. "I try to cook everything myself from scratch."

The "new American" menu includes a quinoa salad, baked eggs with ramps, asparagus and roasted potatoes, or a grass-fed burger topped with guacamole.

The "ethnic plates" feature Himalayan dishes — including cuisine from Nepal, India and Bhutan, Bhuti said — like steamed momos, homemade Tibetan sausage in a spicy garlic sauce and stir-fried noodles with vegetables.

"I try to do as seasonal as I can and as local as I can," Bhuti said, saying she uses cage-free eggs and produce delivered weekly from a farm upstate, which she bases her menus around.

"I have a lady coming every Friday from upstate, she brings all my produce that she harvested the day before," she said. "She comes with a box, the dirt is still [on] the produce. It's fun to work with that."

Her food is served on handcrafted plates and bowls made by several of her friends, who do pottery, some of which is available for sale.

Dawa is currently open from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, and until 8 p.m. Thursday to Sunday. Bhuti says they plan to expand their dinner offerings once their beer and wine license is approved. 

They're also serving their Tibetan menu at the Queens International Night Market in Corona and plan to continue to do so through the summer, Bhuti said.

Prices at Dawa's currently range from $5 to $11 for most dishes.

"I try to keep the price really reasonable," she said. "For me, making money is good but what I wanted is — I want people to taste the food and appreciate the food. That's more my goal."

Dawa's is located at 51-18 Skillman Ave. in Woodside.