Food News

Franklin Barbecue's Aaron Franklin Invaded Top Knot for One Night With 400 Bowls of Brisket

Taylor Danser
A bowl of Aaron Franklin's brisket in a flurry of broth and herbs set diners back $17 and an hour wait, but Dallas diners seemed more than happy to try the Austin pitmaster's goods at Top Knot's Uncommon Ramen series.
To get a piece of parchment paper piled with meat from Franklin Barbecue, you'll normally sit in a folding chair on a sidewalk in Austin for at least five hours in the Texas heat.

Monday night, just a one-hour wait got you slices of that famously perfect brisket, but it came in a pho broth instead of with white bread.

Aaron Franklin participated in the second part of this three-part Uncommon Ramen series at Top Knot, the restaurant above Uchi in Uptown. The restaurant saw massive crowds on what is usually a day off, and chef Tyson Cole (Hai Hospitality) and Franklin could be seen walking around the filled dining room.

Brisket in soup is not uncommon. Franklin’s brisket, though, is uncommon from almost any comparable cut of meat, because it’s generally superior to the rest. He brought both the meats and his smoker to prepare it onsite.

What made this ramen even more uncommon was that as the bowl came to you, instead of an egg, you had bean sprouts, jalapeños, basil and a strong smell of star anise.

Our party of four, which skipped the reservation and walked in (after arriving at 5:05 p.m. and sitting down just over an hour later) got seats at the bar. Top Knot chef Angela Hernandez knows how to put a broth together, and we couldn’t stop talking about it. But this uncommon ramen seemed more like pho with ramen noodles. That’s when a bartender chimed in: Ramen, pho, they’re basically the same, just different countries of origin.

Well ... not quite. But that technically aside, the brisket was incredible, and paired perfectly well with a pho broth, which was spicy and worthy of consuming through a straw.

The crowds seemed to agree; we waited just over 60 minutes, and Top Knot says they served more than 400 bowls. Each bowl cost $17, and a portion of proceeds goes toward No Kid Hungry.

What else do you need?

Up next in the Uncommon Ramen series: chef Jesse Houston of Jackson, Mississippi, restaurant Saltine. Jackson blew us away at last year's Chefs for Farmers festival, and he'll take over Top Knot's kitchen starting at 5 p.m. Monday, March 27.