Kado no Mise in Downtown Minneapolis

Brianna Stachowski / Heavy Table

It’s a good time to be a fan of Japanese food in the Twin Cities. Tanpopo’s closing notwithstanding, the cuisine has boomed in recent years, from Kyatchi to Ramen Kazama to Tori Ramen. Each new restaurant adds a new vocabulary to the conversation started decades ago by Fuji-ya. Kado no Mise (33 1st Ave N, Minneapolis) brings an elegance and an understated, almost minimalist eloquence to the conversation. It might almost feel muted if you’re used to speaking at the volume of sriracha mayonnaise and Philly rolls.

The clean, bright interior of the restaurant, with its white tile and light-colored wood, is immediately striking. The long and narrow space — with an alcohol bar anchoring one end and a sushi bar with views of the kitchen anchoring the other — feels warm and inviting, despite the antiseptically beautiful design. We’ll credit that to the friendly service and the wonderful smells of the food you’re about to eat.

Brianna Stachowski / Heavy Table

The food is similarly elegant and understated, almost muted, if you aren’t paying attention. For lunch, we tried seven of the eight flavors of Temari. Essentially nigiri, temari (named for balls made of decorative thread) feature slices of fish or vegetables wrapped around the top of a dense ball of rice. Seven pieces of sushi plus a bowl of miso soup went for $16, which seemed fair for the quantity and quality of the food served.

James Norton / Heavy Table

As for the flavor of Kado no Mise’s temari — in a word, they’re “mild.” When they work, the retiring flavor combinations are mellow and ethereal. When they don’t, they’re merely sedate, with the rice dominating. Not coincidentally, our two favorite tastes were the most profound: the funky, salty earthiness of the shiitake mushrooms, and the minty, slightly astringent bite of the shiso leaf. We’ve never tasted anything quite like rice wrapped in shiso, and if nothing else, it’s an intriguing contribution to the local flavor conversation.

The Yakiniku Don (marinated beef rice bowl, $9.50) was rich and savory, the meat tender and flavorful. Unlike many of our favorite rice bowls, it didn’t pack a great diversity of spicy/crunchy/creamy/otherwise-diverse flavor and textural elements — this is a rice bowl designed to soothe, not entertain, but it did its job admirably well.

Brianna Stachowski / Heavy Table

While lunch at Kado no Mise left us content but not awed, we adored dinner, where the restaurant’s subtle strengths are more apparent and more slowly enjoyed. Dinner service started with a cup of chilled barley tea, a small and simple offering, with flavors of minerals and wheat and a pronounced aroma of sesame, that laid out what we eventually discerned to be the restaurant’s mission statement: the juxtaposition of simplicity and complexity, all thoughtfully prepared and elegantly served. The pickles and surf clam appetizer that followed was equally remarkable for uniting disparate ingredients by drawing out their similar, earthy flavors. It may be a little esoteric, but indulge us: at Kado no Mise, simplicity emerges from complexity and vice versa.



Heavy Table Hot Five: Aug. 18-24

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Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

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James Norton / Heavy Table

1-new - one - hot fiveCoconut Cake at Delicata
Coconut, much like Brussels sprouts or durian, is one of those ingredients that has two faces to it. Cheap dried coconut flakes impart little flavor beyond mustiness, and they get caught in your teeth, ruining whatever dish they’re in. But when coconut is executed well, it’s toasty, nutty, sweet, and cheerful, and it can elevate a simple, moist vanilla cake from ordinary to divine. Delicata has its coconut cake completely dialed in, down to the light-as-a-feather frosting that complements the soft-spoken coconut character of the dessert.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

2-new - two - hot fiveKinoko Nabe at Kado no Mise
The flavor of the Kinoko Nabe (Mushroom Pot) at Kado no Mise brought me straight back to Japan. The hot clay pot contained a barely sweetened dashi in which young Japanese greens and a variety of mushrooms stewed. A grilled nebrodini mushroom lent its firm texture and smoky flavor, and a poached egg tied it all together.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]

Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

3-new - three hot fiveJacktober Märzen-Style Beer at Jack Pine Brewery
Jack Pine Brewery, in Baxter, Minn., does its part to uphold the reputation of out-state breweries. Visitors to the space are welcomed to a small, north-woods-esque taproom with a line of sight into the brewery. Try the Jacktober, a classic Märzen-style beer with a subtle hop finish that builds, sip by sip.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Paige Latham Didora]

James Norton / Heavy Table

4-new four hot fiveAlt 1848 by Utepils
Maybe we were swayed by the gorgeous copper can this beer arrived in or by the setting (a friendly backyard poker game) but Utepils Alt 1848 is one of the most gregarious, easygoing, enjoyable craft brews we’ve tried this summer. Smooth and malty, mellow and just a touch earthy, this is a beer of real substance but no rough edges. It’s approachable and cheerful, and downright fun to drink.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

James Norton / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveMeatball and Egg Roll Rice Plate at iPho by Saigon
When we ordered the meatball and egg roll rice plate at iPho, we weren’t expecting what we got: five thick red strips of minced, sauteed meat that looked vaguely hotdoglike scattered atop the rice perpendicular to the egg roll. But, by golly, it works. The meatball strips are tender, flavorful without being pungent or overly spicy, and a perfect fit for the rice with some fish sauce, hoisin, and sriracha mixed in for good measure. It’s a substantial lunch that isn’t heavy, and because it’s iPho, it arrives at your table pretty much before you have time to put your menu down after ordering.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]



Weston Gienger of Kadejan Inc.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

This story is a product of Heavy Table’s first Listening Session, underwritten and hosted by the Lakewinds Food Co-op. On May 23, we interviewed 15 local food artisans over the course of eight hours, with a goal of taking a snapshot of the vibrant Minnesota food scene.

“Chefs really like our birds. It’s a good-quality blank canvas,” says Weston Gienger. Gienger wears the marketing hat (among others) for Kadejan, a Glenwood-based company that raises and sells less than 500,000 chickens a year. If you shop at co-ops or dine at restaurants with a farm-to-table connection, you’ve probably seen their birds. The 30-employee company has developed a statewide reputation that has elevated it to among the biggest of the small guys (or the smallest of the big guys, depending upon how you’re measuring your flock sizes).

“They have a different flavor and texture because they don’t have as high a fat content as other birds,” says Gienger. “We don’t try to pump up weight and add fat to the bird. And texturewise, it’s different because we air chill. We’ve been air chilling since ’89. That really sets us apart. It’s not a forced-air blast; it’s more that they’re put into a big, oversized refrigerator. It’s like curing beef. It dries it out a little more, and lets it age. It locks in the natural flavor and texture of the chicken.”

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Kadejan got its start in 1989 as Pope County Poultry Processing, processing birds for local farmers. In the years that followed, in part due to encouragement from chefs such as Lenny Russo and support from co-ops including Mississippi Market, the company began wholesaling free-range, air chilled, antibiotic- and growth-stimulant-free chickens.



12welve Eyes Brewing in Lowertown

Today in the Toast: A tasting of four accomplished brews by newly opened 12welve Eyes Brewing in Lowertown, St. Paul.

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

Though St. Paul has nowhere near the number of breweries that Minneapolis does, the proliferation of breweries in the Lowertown neighborhood this year has been profound. Joining the 3-year veteran Tin Whiskers Brewing Company is Barrel Theory Beer Company, and Sidhe Brewing is in the process of moving from Payne-Phalen to a location near Union Depot.

The most recent addition is 12welve Eyes Brewing, housed in the lower level of the historic Pioneer Endicott building.

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

Unlike Barrel Theory, 12welve Eyes opened seemingly overnight to little press or anticipation from craft-beer enthusiasts. Its taproom is partially underground, down a stairway on a street that is relatively quiet because the Light Rail’s Green Line leaves little room for car traffic.

The company began when three glasses-wearing friends (thus the 12 eyes) bought some home-brewing equipment. After a move to Portland, Ore. to develop their skills, the Minnesota natives returned to St. Paul to open 12welve Eyes Brewing.

Elliot Grosse is the president. Co-founder Karl Eicher is not active in the company. The third founder, head brewer Dalton Buchta, runs the day-to-day brewing operations with help from assistant brewer Josh Oestreich. While they are by no means industry veterans, the quality of beer in the taproom is accomplished.

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

Buchta and Oestreich strive for a frequently rotating, balanced portfolio of sessionable beer. Though not everything falls into the ever-expanding “session” category, the incredible variety is impressive. “We want our reputation to be focused on the overall beer experience in our taproom, not just being able to serve one or two particularly well-made styles,” says Oestreich.

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

The broadly-appealing Mosaic Wheat IPA ($4 for 10 ounces) has a strong, grassy, tangerinelike aroma and is lighter-bodied than many IPA variants. The wheat adds a soft mouthfeel and rounds out bitterness on the palate. A lingering aftertaste is more bitter than the sips themselves.

An excellent dark beer in the warmer months is the Summer Brown ale ($4 for 10 ounces), with its earthy, light-roast coffee and toasted bread aroma. Flavors of bitter cocoa come through as the glass warms, while the finish remains neither sweet nor dry. The light body is seasonally appropriate, but low carbonation prevents it from feeling thin. For a more robust dark beer, the Legacy Chocolate stout, which utilizes chocolate from neighboring Legacy Chocolates, fits the bill.

Finally, the most surprising beer on the menu is the Lemon Hefeweizen ($4 for 10 ounces). Make no mistake, there is way too much lemon in this beer, yet it is shockingly popular. The extreme use of the fruit is attractive in its own way, and in fact the beer becomes almost cocktail-like. An unapologetic amount of lemon comes across with a flavor similar to that of Moroccan preserved lemon. Try cutting it half and half with the Dry-Hopped Hefewiezen for more balance, or enjoy it for the lemon bomb that it is. Summer is almost over.

There were no major recipe flubs that we could find, but instead, a significant detergent smell permeates the glassware. The glasses should be rinsed longer prior to pouring, or, ideally, the formula in the glass washer should be changed.

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

The current plan calls for 80-90 percent of sales to be through the taproom. Light distribution is possible within the year in kegs or crowlers. Hesitancy toward strong distribution is due in part to Grosse’s preference to engage the surroundings in Lowertown before expanding.

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

Brianna Stachhowski / Heavy Table

12welve Eyes Brewing may have opened only weeks ago, but Grosse is already thinking about the depths of Minnesota winter. As a young business owner, it’s hard for him to define the dozens of hats he must wear as the infant brewery begins to develop, but anxiety is his current state of being. “We are hoping that being connected to the skyway system really helps,” he says, adding that the neighborhood has been consistently supportive.

12welve Eyes Brewing, 141 E 4th St, Suite LL2, St. Paul, MN 55101; 651.493.8106



A Cider Survey with the Minnesota Cider Guild

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

This story is a product of Heavy Table’s first Listening Session, underwritten and hosted by the Lakewinds Food Co-op. On May 23, we interviewed 15 local food artisans over the course of eight hours, with a goal of taking a snapshot of the vibrant Minnesota food scene.

The first apples of the year are starting to ripen, meaning that our tables will begin shifting from the joyful lightness of summer to the full-throated bounty of autumn. Part of that bounty is the halfway-between-beer-and-wine earthy sweetness of hard cider, a beverage now represented locally by the newly formed Minnesota Cider Guild.

We talked to the Minnesota Cider Guild’s secretary (and Sapsucker Farms owner), Debbie Morrison, in June, and she brought a box of her members’ products to share. The result: a quick snapshot of the state of local hard ciders, plus a slew of tasting notes.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

HEAVY TABLE: What’s the state of the Minnesota cider industry right now?

DEBBIE MORRISON: The Minnesota cider industry is very young. All of us have been around five years or less. As time has gone on, we’ve realized that there are a lot of benefits that we can have by working together to build recognition for Minnesota cider. Right now there are only 17 cider makers in Minnesota.

HEAVY TABLE: There’s been a real boom of cider in Minnesota over the past few years. What’s driving it?

MORRISON: As you know, The University of Minnesota has done a lot of development of apples. That’s a key factor for why Minnesota is such as great place to make cider. Up in my area, which is east-central Minnesota, we’re using apple growing as an economic development engine. It’s an economically challenged area that used to be dairy farms. Now we have all these small family farms. We are now working with the local landowners to plant apple trees and get in on the growth of the Minnesota cider industry.

Minnesota apples are in huge demand not only because they’re great varieties that have been developed here, but because as cider markers, we’re required to have 51 percent of our juice come from Minnesota products. There are 75 farm-wineries in Minnesota, and about 16 of them are cider makers. You can see we’re a small part of a small industry.

HEAVY TABLE: What are the roots of craft cider in this country?