Bend Butchers to Open a Japanese Soul Food Restaurant

Pono Farm digs into its Japanese roots with a butcher shop and eatery in Northeast Portland.

By Benjamin Tepler April 14, 2014

You might know Pono Farm from its stand at the PSU farmers market. Pono raises and butchers some of Oregon’s better pork and beef, and smokes the best jowl bacon we’ve ever tasted.

Now, after three years running a butcher shop in Bend, owners and brothers Shin and Ted Nakato are opening up Pono Farm Soul Kitchen, with an attached retail meat shop at 4118 Northeast Sandy Boulevard, right next to the Hollywood Theater. Tentative opening date: end of May.

It’s not a soul kitchen in the Southern Americana sense. The brothers Nakato are bringing the food of their Japanese-American childhood to the table: deep-fried, breaded pork tonkatsu, house ramen, and charcoal-grilled slices of beef using top quality Wagyu cattle and heritage Berkshire pork from their own ranch in central Oregon. The 75-seat kitchen and bar will be headed by Portland newcomer Ric Ramos, whose resume includes New York restaurant landmarks Morimoto and Bouley.

The menu will rotate weekly, depending on Pono’s meat market case, and feature dishes like slow-cooked pork shoulder kakuni with black truffle congee, “rump carpaccio” with ginger-soy-scallion oil, and house bacon fried rice. The Nakato brothers also plan to serve a small selection of sustainable seafood, from sushi to Dungeness crab croquettes.

Opposite the soul kitchen will be Pono Farm and Fine Meats retail shop, with whole-animal butchery and a selection of house-made cured meat sandwiches to go, like pastrami Reubens and pork Cubanos.

Pono joins a very competitive meat market in Portland, with longtime favorites like Laurelhurst Market, Chop, and Olympic Provisions setting the bar. But raising their own livestock and offering whole animal butchery gives them a serious advantage over quality control. From what we’ve seen already, Pono has the potential to cause an upset in the city’s boutique meat scene. Stay tuned for updates.

Pono Farm Soul Kitchen
4118 Northeast Sandy Blvd.
Lunch and Dinner, hours TBD

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