The Rise of Bakeries and Cafe’s
Duluth is a place that is packed with an amazing array of international eateries. If you want to try authentic Dum Sum or Korean Bulgogi , its all available within a small radius here in Duluth. I’ve been here for not too long of a time but have noticed a sudden rise in cafe’s around this area. Most of these cafes are Korean and will have what is known as “Bun” as their main style of food offered. This creates a pseudo (if you will) cafe-bakery that not only offers the comfort and feel of a cafe but also offers baked Bun’s and Asian style cakes. There are many of these types of cafes in the area including Arte 3, Tree House, White Windmill (a larger chain), Cafe Mozart, Vincent Bakery and many others. This fusion of bakery and cafe is still a fast-growing industry and more and more cafes are popping up each year offering their own take on baked buns and coffee drinks.
What is a Bun
A bun is a small and sometimes sweet bread or bread roll that typically is hand size and usually are flat at the bottom and round at the top. Buns are typically made with simple ingredients such as flour, sugar, milk, yeast, and butter. In my take, if I’m feeling for a bread dish and trying to around al the strange chemicals and ingredients found in a dish from; let’s say your Kroger bakery, I’d pick a bun cafe. Doing research on the bun craze, it’s hard to figure out where they actually originated from but I do know for certain that I’ve seen them first hand in Japan as well as China with different names:
If your Vietnamese, you would consider this a “Banh Bao” (wrapping cake) which would be a bun stuffed with pork or chicken mixed with eggs, onions, and mushrooms.
If your Taiwanese or Chinese it is literally just “bun” or could be a “beef bun” if stuffed with beef,
The thing is, whatever its stuffed with or how its cooked (example: steamed bun) comes before the word “bun” and that explains what kind of bun it is.
The rise of the Bun/Fusion Food Cafe’s
If you’re like me and love to visit great – chill – cafe’s, after a while you’ll notice that there is a lack of certain aspects to complete that comfortable experience that you’re looking for. With me, I love to visit cafe’s and I love to try new buns (as discussed), but after a while, I began to search out places that also had some comfort food or a finger food that I could eat to complete my late night experience or lunch experience. I believe the need for this has become the foundation of what I call the Asian-Fusion Cafe movement. Now many cafes are coming up that offer more than your typical boba teas, coffee, and filled buns. They are now starting to offer a unique mix of Asian-fusion finger foods and dishes. A leader in this movement that has been around for quite some time is Sweet Hut.
Sweet Hut Bakery
Sweet Hut is a unique concept that started back in 2012 with a Doraville location where they received a business model award from the city of Doraville due to their successful business model. On top of that, they got a great review and recommendation by Atlanta Eats. They quickly grey this location to the point of opening a new shop in Midtown GA in 2014. From there, the sought out to open their third location in the heart of Gwinnett and has sense, opened the Pleasant Hill Location. This location, unlike the neighboring cafe’,s offer a full menu and has a larger space which allows for multiple parties.
What I love most about Sweet Hut is that not only do they offer a huge choice of buns (almost anything you can think of or think up is stuffed in a pastry here), they also provide a full drink menu, a salad menu, sandwiches, burgers and finger foods. Here you are likely to find a unique mix of Asian-Fusion foods such as bulgogi cheesesteaks, tofu burgers and Lemon Grass BBQ Pork Sandwich. My first time walking into the Duluth location,
I got a wow factor from the view of what seems to be a limitless amount of bun pastries in these prestigious looking glass containers. The left side is similar to a cafeteria setting where you literally get a tray and load up on your favorite buns, cakes, puddings or whatever desserts are available for the day. After that, you can enter one of many lines to check out based on what is on your tray.
A quick note is that all buns are made daily at 8:00am so tha would be the best time to visit and purchase.
This is one one of the many dimensions of food that is offered here. On top of a large menu of Taiwanese-style buns, there is full Asian-Fusion food menu, a cake menu and a drink menu. I’m going to hit on what was told to me by Tommy (one of the managers) as the best dishes.
Not your American Burgers
Sweet Hut offers four main burgers, each with a unique Asian Fusion Twist. The #1 selling burger and one you must try is the Sweet Hut Burger. This burger is made from a fresh Angus beef patty that’s been marinated with bulgogi sauce (bulgogi sauce ranged from many different bases but can best be described as a sweet teriyaki style bbq sauce). It’s topped with cheddar cheese, pickled carrot, baby spinach, sliced cucumbers, a homemade slaw, and an avocado. One thing I like about this burger is that it as well as the others are served on an ORGANIC whole wheat bun.
The other burgers will be the following:
- Tofu & Portabella Burger: This burger is a vegetarian’s heaven! it has pan-fried tofu, portabella mushrooms, baby spinach, roasted bell peppers, sliced red onions, avocado, and sliced cucumbers. It’s covered in a balsamic glaze and served on an organic bun.
- Bibimbap Burger (my personal favorite): If you’re not sure what bibimbap is, it’s a Korean rice dish that typically has warm rice covered in mixed sauteed veggies, chili sauce, soybean paste, a raw or fried egg, and other ingredients. Typically you would mix it all together with the rice and dig in. This burger holds the rice but has the ingredients that are used in making bibimbap as its toppings. This includes stir-fried carrots, seasoned bean sprouts, and spinach and a fried egg.
- Donkatsu Burger: Katsu is a Japanese method of frying typically by first covering a fillet (chicken, pork or fish) with flower, dipping it in egg white and covering it in bread crumbs before frying it in oil. This gives it a flaky texture and is personally my favorite method of frying any meat or veggie. This burger is made with a pork katsu patty topped with provolone cheese, cucumbers, pickled carrots, and a homemade slaw. Its drizzled with a Donkatsu sauce on an organic bun.
All burgers can be bought classic for $9.95 or Premium at $12.95 which comes with a salad and choice of one two desserts (cream puff or Portugese egg tart)
I love the fact that Sweet Hut does a fusion with Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese foods. Seeing it work out in sandwiches is something I have not seen done much. I don’t have enough time to write about all of the sandwiches, but the #1 selling sandwich at Sweet Hut is the Bulgogi (Korean BBQ) Cheesesteak. This is made with marinated thin sliced steak, grilled portabella mushrooms, and onion and topped with provolone cheese. It’s served on a hoagie bun which is fresh baked and drizzled with bulgogi sauce and a house-made mayo.
This sandwich is pretty awesome. If you’re familiar with the typical Philly cheesesteak, you’ll find this is made very similar but has a sweet taste to it because of the bulgogi sauce. Other sandwiches include the Miso sesame chicken/steak, Dinty Moore hot pastrami, turkey and swiss and chicken salad sandwich. There is a hot sandwich menu, cold sandwich menu and a panini menu and I wish I could dive into more but you’ll have to go and check it out for yourself.
Asian Garden Salad and Others
For those who are trying to eat healthier or live the vegetarian lifestyle, Sweet Hut does offer salads. The #1 selling salad is the Asian Garden Salad. this salad can be served with or without chicken and features a spring mix of veggies, baby spinach, European cucumbers, roasted almonds, shredded carrots, and fried wontons with a Sesame ginger dressing. I am not a big salad fan but I love this salad. The dressing is amazing and with the chicken and fried wontons, it really elevates my take on salads and can be something that’s delicious, filling and healthy. The other salads offered at sweet hut include:
- Chicken Pasta Salad: Grilled chicken, red and green bell peppers, sliced olives, and cucumbers tossed with homemade Sweet Hut dressing.
- Caesar Salad with Chicken
- Fresh Spinach Salad
Finger Foods and Snacks
Sweet Hut offers a unique mix of Asian street foods from Indian samosas to the #1 finger dish which is the Salt & Pepper Chicken Nuggets (shown above). These are a Taiwanese favorite and many neighboring cafes have a similar take on this dish. What is unique about these nuggets is that unlike your typical Mcdonalds processed nuggets, these are made from chicken that is hand-cut daily, lightly battered and seasoned with salt and pepper (hence the name).
If you’re like me and love to hang out at cozy spots for study or work, these are a perfect and affordable dish and are really addictive (speaking from experience). The samosas curry roll which is also a best seller here at Sweet Hut. I’ve tried these personally and I love the sauce that comes with them as well as the Indian street food taste you get from this. Having been to many Indian eats, this is the real deal.
Drinks for Any Taste
One thing that is certain about the Duluth area, is that boba teas and milk teas rule the cafe scene. Sweet Hut offers a large line of milk teas, hot teas, cold teas, coffee drinks, and smoothies. If you’re looking for a new milk tea to try out. Try Sweet Hut’s #1 selling milk tea, the Sweet Hut Milk Tea. This tea is not too sweet and has a stronger black tea flavor working as a perfect coffee substitute. Combined with your choice of toppings, this can be a refreshing and unique experience. If you’re wanting a kick, I would recommend trying it with the coffee jelly as shown in this image. Coffee jelly is exactly what it is – coffee that’s been compressed into a jelly form and cubed. If your use to bubbles in your tea, this will be a unique bubble tea experience.
Another best seller at Sweet Hut is their Thai Tea. Thai tea is a unique tea made in Thailand (hence the name) It’s generally made by mixing condensed milk with black tea which is poured over ice and topped with condensed milk. What makes the Thai tea at Sweet Hut so unique is the ability to mix it with one of the many toppings available. This Thai tea in the photo had a combination of grass jelly and custard pudding.
Note that Sweet Hut has the following toppings: honey boba, aloe vera, chia seeds, custard pudding, mango pudding, grass jelly, coffee jelly, lychee jelly, passionfruit jelly, mango jelly and rainbow jelly
Honey Lemon Aloe
Sweet Hut’s drink menu is broken into many categories such as Milk Tea, QQ Pudding & Jelly, Summer Breeze, Energetic Boost, Oriental Tea Pop, Fruit Slush, Frappe, and Coffee. There are over 50 drink options to choose from and no way that I can write about all of them but the last drink that’s among the best sellers is the Honey Lemon Aloe. This is made to increase your energy without the use of caffeine. This tea is sweet and subtle and is combined in this photo with the rainbow jelly. The rainbow jelly is a unique mix of fruit puddings that have been cubed to the size of being sucked in by a boba straw.
Sweet Cakes at Sweet Hut
Sweet offers a full catering service. All items mentioned in this article or on their menu can be brought in platters for any party, wedding or office event. One thinks that they take very seriously are their cakes. Sweet Hut offers large, small and personal sizes of many of their sought after cakes. They include (but aren’t limited to): Black Forest, Cheese Cake, Chocolate Mouse, Classic Tiramisu, Fruit Cake, Magic Mirror, Mango Cake, Strawberry Cake, Taro Cake, Red Velvet, and Mocha Walnut Cake. Two of the best selling cakes are the Taro Cake and The Fruit Cake.
The Taro cake is made with real taro and is one of the best selling cakes available at Sweet Hut. The Fruit Cake is also one of the best sellers and my personal favorite One thing I love about these cakes is that they are not overwhelmingly sweet and if you’re like me and have a low sugar tolerance, it’s perfect!
Another cake that you owe it to yourself to try is the Mango Mousse Cake. From first glance, this cake looks like something out of a magazine (as do many of the cakes here) and has a hefty portion of mango built into it as well as a semi-sweet mango icing.
Sweet Hut has a catering manager who can meet with you set up catering events, wedding cakes, and similar options. If you love the cakes you’ve tried and wish to cater an event, ask for a catering manager, Bree, and get all the details.