BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
October's Launch article features Soul Kitchen, Easy Company and Slick's Big Time BBQ.
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Company: Soul Kitchen
Owners: Ted & Shin Nakato
Located in Portland’s restaurant-strapped Hollywood district, Soul Kitchen offers a new spin on the city’s local food scene: a Japanese farm-to-table venue selling premium beef raised on a family-owned farm.
Sourcing from local farmers is nothing new. But Soul Kitchen proprietors Ted and Shin Nakato take that idea to its logical extreme. “All the beef and pork that’s featured on the menu is from our farm,” says Ted, who co-owns Pono Farm in Bend.
Third-generation restaurant owners Ted, 37, and his brother Shin, 43, began raising cattle 14 years ago. The brothers slowly built up their herd, with a focus on Wagyu cattle — a Japanese breed favored for its slow marbling process. In 2011 the Nakatos opened a butcher shop in Bend, with ambitions of eventually opening a restaurant. Says Ted, “Our ultimate goal was to have a full-service, high-end dining experience.”
Enter Soul Kitchen. The restaurant opened in June, bringing yōshoku — Western-influenced Japanese dishes — to Portland foodies. With a limited livestock supply, Ted says they aim to utilize the entire carcass, in dishes like grilled beef tongue and wok-fried beef liver.
Pono Farm meat is aged and butchered at the Nakatos’ production facility in Bend. It is distributed to Soul Kitchen and Pono Farm retailers in Bend and Portland.
“None of our animals are ever administered steroids, growth hormones or antibiotics,” says Ted. “Our beef is fed grass and hay and we don’t feed them any grain, corn or soy.”
Dinner at Soul Kitchen doesn’t come cheap. A dinner for three can easily run more than $90. Ted makes no excuses, citing the time and effort that goes into raising livestock. “We don’t just get on the phone and call in our meat. Customers who know food will appreciate they are getting a quality ingredient.”