Heavy Table Hot Five: Aug. 5-11

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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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Varsha Koneru / Heavy Table
Varsha Koneru / Heavy Table

1-new - oneEgg Custard Buns at Yangtze
These egg custard buns are part of the weekend dim sum menu at Yangtze, and it’s no surprise that they typically sell out before noon. The warm bun is just barely sweet, with a light, cloudlike texture, and it’s topped with golden streusel. But the real magic happens when you break it open to reveal the unctuous egg yolk filling, slightly sweet, but almost treading on the line of savory. It’s light, yet indulgent, and we can’t get enough of it.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Varsha Koneru]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

2-new - twoChicken in Black Bean Sauce with Pan Fried Noodles at Hong Kong Noodle
Black bean sauce can and usually does go wrong in many ways — too salty, too earthy, dominant to the point of crushing whatever it’s spread upon. In this chicken dish from Hong Kong Noodle, the black bean sauce brought a lovely amount of salt and umami to the party, but it was part of an overall package best described as clean and balanced. The fried noodles in this dish were fascinating, varying between crunchy and chewy, and — without fail — soaking up a ton of the surrounding flavor to the point where they were as rich as their companion ingredients. One important footnote: The pieces of what appear to be green bell peppers floating in this dish are, in fact, pieces of fully seed-bearing jalapeño peppers and should be consumed with great caution, if at all.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from an upcoming Green Line Checklist by James Norton]

Bjorn Christianson / Heavy Table
Bjorn Christianson / Heavy Table

3-new - threeThe Black Ice Cream Cone at Milkjam Creamery
Olive oil and earthy black salt turned Milkjam’s black ice cream in a black cone (crowned with all-black toppings) into a deep, organic experience, like the best soil turned into a dessert. The obsidian waffle cone lacked the malty wonder of a standard option, but the overall experience — visually and gastronomically — was unique. The sundae-in-a-cone experience was a one-off, but hopefully we’ll see it return down the road.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #1| Submitted by Bjorn Christianson]

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

4-new fourCroissants from Duluth’s Best Bread
Duluth’s Best Bread shines most ostentatiously through its croissants, which are pure dynamite — their crispy, crackly, multilayered exteriors are a sheath for a rich, buttery, moist interior. The shop’s chocolate croissants use first-rate chocolate from the Minnesota chocolatiers at Meadowlands. The chocolate has a bright, almost fruity character and a moderate amount of sugar that turns what could be a novelty croissant into a surprisingly refined experience.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from a story by James Norton]

Peter Sieve / Heavy Table
Peter Sieve / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveBrisket and Side at Surly Brewery
Good barbecue can be hard to find in Minnesota. Which is why I was surprised and delighted with the brisket and sides at the Surly Brewery this weekend — beautifully smoky, slow-cooked beef brisket in thick slices came out hot and sauce-free, accompanied by an excellent slice of warm jalapeño cornbread, soft Hawaiian rolls, and piles of bread-and-butter pickles and white onion slices. The Brussels sprouts in Thai vinaigrette were also excellent, and they paired up nicely with the traditional barbecue flavors. The tableside sauces were balanced and delicious. I made my own mini sandwiches with the Hawaiian rolls and accompaniments, and between sips of the latest Surly Pils, happily contemplated how this homey and clearly cared-for barbecue could come out of such a massive operation.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #2 | Submitted by Peter Sieve]

By James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.