You may have heard that Impossible Foods is expanding its fake meat options beyond burgers — it’s moving into pork. So I chowed down at Kumi, a Japanese restaurant in the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas. I’m still chewing on how I feel, but it may not actually matter how perfectly Impossible Pork imitates the pig meat: it does provide a savory base of protein for a lot of foods that traditionally call for pork.
Impossible Food’s offerings might be fake meat but they’re real food. Impossible Pork isn’t really available for you to buy, though — pricing and availability hadn’t been announced during my taste test. However, you can definitely check out a different Impossible offering at one of 139 Burger Kings, starting January 13: the Impossible Croissan’wich, available at a limited time, will feature Impossible Sausage.
Food that’s an imitation of other food is kind of a trend. In addition to Impossible Foods, there’s Beyond Meat, which also makes a fake beef patty. You can pair your fake meat with fake wines, from Endless West and Replica Wine. Or, if milk is more your speed, there’s dairy-free “milk” from Perfect Day Foods and Ripple Foods. These companies are leaning hard on the promise of sustainability and health, trying to appear to environmentally conscious consumers as better alternatives for conventional meat, dairy, and wine.
During Impossible Foods’ event, I tried out some Impossible Pork Banh Mi, Impossible Pork Char Siu Buns, Impossible Pork Dan Dan Noodles, Impossible Pork Katsu, and Impossible Pork Sweet, Sour and Numbing Meatballs.
It was… fine? The fake meat was a little spongy; my favorites were the meatballs and the noodles. Look, I should be straight with you: I haven’t eaten pork in more than 20 years, so I don’t know if it actually tastes like pork. I had to tap in a meat-eater, our pal Becca Farsace, who said the texture was not quite right but the taste was basically accurate. One thing both Becca and I noticed: We weren’t sure whether it was Impossible Pork, or just the way it was prepared, but the food was salty. Both of us chugged water after our taste test.
The thing about Impossible Foods, much like Beyond Meat, is that — as a longtime vegetarian — I’m not their market. I’ve been happily abstaining from pork since 1996. Ditto beef, chicken, turkey and so on. I don’t want or need fake meat. This product seems like it’s aimed at people who are thinking about reducing their meat consumption, and are nervous about taking the plunge.
But it doesn’t really matter how I feel about it. The truth is that a lot of restaurants don’t put much thought into their vegetarian dishes. I don’t like the Beyond Burger or the Impossible Burger but I nonetheless have eaten them several times, because that’s the vegetarian option at the burger joint my friends want to go to. (As it happens, I love black bean burgers and falafel burgers and other things vegetarians have come up with over the years. Without a doubt, I prefer them to pretend beef.)
I’m probably going to wind up eating Impossible Pork for this reason — even if I never buy it for home cooking, some restaurant will serve it instead of coming up with a thoughtful vegetarian dish. And I’ll eat it, because fake meat is better than nothing.