When Justin Healy launched his Quality Noods pop-up at the Exeter last year, it was an instant hit (tickets to the first night sold out in around seven minutes). He’s since been serving – and selling out – his steaming bowls of soup at Loc Bottle Bar and Good Gilbert, where he’s been cheffing since April.
But the plan was always to open a shop of his own. Earlier this month, Healy acquired the keys to a tenancy on Hindmarsh Square – recently vacated by Deli on Pulteney – two doors down from Loc.
“I’d been looking at it for ages thinking, ‘That’s gotta be the spot, that’s the three-year plan,’” says Healy. “And it’s turned into a six-month plan because it’s ready now.”
The new shop, to be called Dunfor Noodle Bar (the Quality Noods brand will continue as a wholesale operation), will open in October with a capacity (post-restrictions) of 30 people inside and 56 outside. There’ll be bar seating facing the kitchen, counter seating along the window looking out to Hindmarsh Square, and a few tables in the middle. Plus outdoor seating along Pulteney Street and the square.
“All the changes here are wicked,” says Healy. “I’m really looking forward to being able to do some larger events with everyone involved. Like, a little block party would be great.”
Before launching Quality Noods, Healy was working with farmer Michael Wohlstadt, aka The Dairyman, in the Barossa following several years at now-shuttered Orana and Bistro Blackwood. He’s also staged at acclaimed restaurant Relae in Copenhagen, where his ramen obsession was formed.
“A Swedish chef had a ramen shop [called Slurp] in Copenhagen and I was like, ‘This is unusual.’ It’s a super Japanese thing to do, and he was doing it properly, but he was also celebrating really nice local ingredients at the same time.”
For Healy, too, his ramen is a vehicle to showcase quality produce from local producers who are doing things right. At Dunfor, he’ll be sourcing ingredients from Nomad Farms (pasture-raised chicken), Ngeringa (biodynamically grown vegetables) and his former employer, The Dairyman (milk-fed, heritage-breed pork), plus other small producers.
“I’d rather get produce from a whole bunch of different places than just bail out and get it from a large fruit-and-veg and meat supplier who gets it from who knows where,” says Healy. “I’d rather share it out and make sure [other] producers are celebrated for what they’re doing – that’s the most important thing. That’s why I started it.”
Healy’s commitment to ingredients includes making his own from-scratch where he can.
“When I started, I was making all the soya sauce, all the miso, and I was working on the farm that was growing the pork, and I was sourcing flour [to make the noodles] from Small World. And as I got busier and busier I thought, ‘This is going to be really hard to keep up with’. So I changed my style to be a lot more simple. So when I open the store I’ll go back to the production of miso and shoyu [soy] and making my own noodles – from a little space upstairs above the shop.”
The noodles – firm and chewy – are made with Small World’s toasted whole-wheat flour. “At the moment they’re like an approachable Tokyo-style noodle, which is white flour, well-laminated dough,” says Healy. “I’ve got a really good base recipe. But I’m looking forward to being able to take time and work on other styles as well.”
The noods will be plunged into umami-rich broths (a vegan one made from fresh and fermented vegetables or a meat-based soup made with chicken and pork from Nomad Farms and The Dairyman). Diners will also have a choice of two tare (seasoning) options per soup: miso and shoyu for the vegan one and shio (salt) or shoyu for meat. Healy also plans to introduce the occasional seafood ramen, probably with pippies from Goolwa Pipi Co.
“There’s a small production of periwinkles [sea snails] that are really good for broths [too],” says Healy. “And I’m working on a few other ones as well. I’d love to try to use some noxious pests like carp and things like that.”
In summer he might swap the steaming bowls of soup out for dipping ramen (tsukemen) or brothless ramen (mazemen). Alongside the noods, there’ll be a cuisine-crossing menu of Japanese-inspired snacks, a fried-oyster po’ boy, and tres leches (milk cake) for dessert.
As for the drinks, expect two tap beers from Bridge Road Brewers and a small selection of (non-alcoholic) house-made cordials. Healy’s waiting on council approval to allow BYO from Loc (with a small corkage fee per bottle).
Dunfor will open in late October at 62 Pulteney Street, Adelaide.