A local free-range pork farmer has been slurping up bowls of ramen lately, featuring his very own product.
Oakleigh Pasture Pork owner Jack Hewitt and Susuru Ramen & Gyoza Restaurant owner Taiyo Namba have teamed up to create Jack’s Pork Belly Ramen: a special on Susuru’s menu using local Gunnedah pork.
Mr Namba is a former Gunnedah resident, but now lives in Newcastle, where Susuru is located.
The two were also neighbours in years gone by, which makes the collaboration all the more special.
Mr Hewitt said it was “pretty exciting” that he was able to work with his long-time friend.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for each other … and I have great respect for a bloke who sources his product direct from the farmer, it really shows their integrity to produce the best quality meals in the restaurant,” he said.
“He’s not just in it for the money, he’s in it for the whole paddock-to-plate journey.”
Mr Namba said the collaboration was a long time in the making.
“It wasn’t just to put his pork on the menu, but to give it what it’s worth,” the restaurant owner explained.
“It’s not just another thing on the menu, but a really good dish that complements the pork and what Jack does.”
The organic pork farmer visited the restaurant to try the dish not long ago, and said it was a “very satisfying” experience.
“It’s great to sit in the restaurant, have it knowing it’s my product, and to look around and see other people eating it. You can see they’re really enjoying having my pork,” he said.
“I was introduced to Mark, the chef, and he was pretty quick to tell me how much he loves the product.”
He wishes that he could win the lottery so he could “buy a flat above [Susuru] and go down there to eat everyday, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Jack’s Pork Belly Ramen is available at Susuru for the month of July. It features Susuru’s shio broth base and combines Seville oranges, bay leaves, star aniseed, sea salt, cracked pepper, chilli leek ribbons, pickled wild mushroom and, of course, free-range roasted pork belly.