Have you had fried rice before? Oh, you have? NO! NO! You are wrong! You have never had fried rice until you've eaten Pono Farm's Fried Rice. Heck, you haven't even lived until you have had their insanely addictive, bacon-fat-and-meat-flurried-fluffy-rice-and-what-is-that? A-shred-of-carrot? Oh-this-is-healthy! ...fried-rice dish.
Pono Farm & Fine Meats is a magical place where cows and pigs go to die and people go to live high on the hog. It's a meaty kind of heaven peppered with burgers, jerky, steaks, short ribs, corned beef, pork and a variety of sides that round out a meal like a halo on an angel. The kitchen is only open for lunch, but the butchery is open during regular business hours, which is really the only regular thing about this place.
Manager Camille Pouliot has been with Pono Farm for the past two years of the five they have been open and speaks passionately about the meats they produce. "We do have very high standards, which is how Pono Farm was born. Our goal is to provide the best quality meat, produced sustainably and humanely."
She continues, "All of our animals are raised on pasture and drink Opal Spring water. We specialize in Wagyu (American Kobe) beef, which is grass-fed and finished and then dry-aged here at our shop."
Their other meat-star is pork. "Our pigs are a mix of heritage breeds, fed a diet of mostly hay, supplemented with seasonal produce," she says. "All of our animals are grown slowly, producing the best quality meat."
All too often we find ourselves eating mystery meals, completely in the dark as to where they came from. One dollar burgers, packaged sandwiches and processed snacks are pumped full of colors and preservatives that are as unnecessary as they are abundant. This type of dining is diametrically opposed to the philosophy—and practices—of Pono Farm.
"Pono," a Hawaiian word, translates to "righteous or having high moral quality," which is the goal of the farm. "Everything is made in-house, fresh from our own farm. We use everything we can, operating as close to zero-waste as possible," says Pouliot. "We make stock out of bones, render fat into lard, make sausage out of meat trimmings, and so forth. Since we grow everything ourselves, we use as much of it as possible."
The kitchen menu changes seasonally and even daily, depending on the available stock. The unique menu is created by co-owners and operators Ted and Shin Nakato, brothers of Japanese heritage who grew up in the southern U.S., where BBQ is king and meat is the centerpiece of every meal. You can taste their Asian influence in the dishes, which brings us back to that fried rice I yelled at you about a few paragraphs ago.
Combining nature and nurture, the Nakato Brothers have made this dish their own. Dubbed rather plainly as "Fried Rice" on the Pono Farm menu, this dazzling dish combines bacon, garlic, rice, bacon, shredded carrots, bacon, green onions, bacon and a mix of seasonings in a way that makes you sit back in your chair and thank God you have taste buds. There's also kim chi for those of you who appreciate fermentation, and if you live in Bend, you know you do.
Located on the north end of town, near the Lowe's lumber compound, the eatery's ambience is just what you'd expect from a butchery turned bistro: simple tables and chairs, with paper towel rolls and a condiment station. The real artistry is on the plate.
Pono Farm & Fine Meats
Follow them at Facebook/ponofarm
63595 Hunnell Rd., Bend
Butchery Hours: Tues.-Sat., 9am-6pm
Kitchen Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11am-3pm