SINGAPORE - First it was beef, now it is pork.
Californian company Impossible Foods will debut its plant-based Impossible Pork on Thursday (Nov 18) across more than 120 restaurant outlets in Singapore.
The minced meat product is made from the same key ingredient as its beef alternative - soya protein, along with sunflower oil and coconut oil.
It also contains "heme", a molecule found in humans, animals and plants that gives the product its meaty look and flavour.
Unlike Impossible Beef, it does not contain potato protein.
Compared with real pork, Impossible Pork is said to have more protein as well as less fat, calories and cholesterol.
While there are burger and pasta options made with the minced pork alternative, the versatile product also features heavily in Asian cuisine.
Think claypot Mee Tai Bak with Impossible Pork ($18) at home-grown zi char chain New Ubin Seafood, Impossible kueh pie tee ($10.80) at Straits Chinese Nonya Restaurant, and Impossible ngoh hiang (from $35) at Cai Eats.
Bak kwa chain Fragrance, as well as burger restaurant Three Buns, have also created their versions of bak kwa made with Impossible Pork.
At Chinese restaurant Tasty Loong by Chef Pung at the Link Hotel in Tiong Bahru, its chef-owner Pung Lu Tin, 60, features the meat alternative in six dishes.
Previously, he had tried the plant-based pork alternative by Malaysian start-up Phuture Foods.
He says: "Impossible Pork feels the closest to real pork for me - both in flavour and texture. I don't have to add too much seasoning either, maybe just a bit of sauce.
"We never needed to use Impossible Beef since we're a Chinese restaurant. That's more suitable for the Western ones to make burgers. But as interest in these plant-based products grew and I saw many chefs using it, I decided to try it as well."
Impossible Foods - which started in 2011 - launched its Impossible Beef here in 2019.
It partnered some restaurants at Marina Bay Sands and also did a pop-up for consumers to try the product at Lau Pa Sat.
The plant-based beef is now available across 700 restaurants and retails across supermarkets and convenience stores.
Impossible Pork - which launched last year (2020) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas - marked its debut in the United States and Hong Kong last month.
Its entrance into Singapore comes amid a slew of meat alternatives available in the growing plant-based scene here.
Other pork alternatives include Hong Kong food tech company OmniFoods' OmniMeat and OmniMeat Luncheon, local start-up Karana's pulled pork made from jackfruit, and Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat's sausages.
Aside from trying Impossible Pork at the eateries, diners can also order dishes featuring it via food delivery platform Deliveroo.
On Thursday (Nov 18), it is offering a one-day-only 50 per cent discount off all Impossible Pork dishes from selected restaurants on the platform.
Mr Laurent Stevenart - Impossible Foods' general manager, Singapore & United Arab Emirates - notes that Asia is a "top priority" for the brand's expansion.
He does not rule out setting up a production facility in Singapore. Impossible Pork will also expand into supermarkets in the future.
The company's mission, adds the 35-year-old, is to replace animal meats with an Impossible plant-based alternative worldwide by 2035.
He says: "Compared with pre-pandemic times, people are starting to understand how fragile the animal meat industry is worldwide. We've seen animal protein shortages across different animals, and prices increase drastically for animal meat.
"It is the exact opposite of plant-based meat - demand is growing, availability is improving and prices are decreasing. The pandemic has been an opportunity for us to show the upside of plant-based meat."
Tasty Loong by Chef Pung
What: Homely Chinese dishes get the Impossible Pork treatment at Tasty Loong, where chef-owner Pung Lu Tin uses the meat substitute for dishes that usually feature real pork.
Think sweet and sour Impossible meat balls ($16), steamed Impossible cabbage rolls in pumpkin and chicken broth ($16) and fragrant yuan yang fried rice with Impossible Pork ($14).
Save for the softer texture in the sweet and sour balls, I do not mind that the dishes are missing real pork.
The star dishes are the stuffed eggplant, bittergourd and capsicum in black bean sauce ($18), and the claypot braised tofu stuffed with Impossible Pork served on preserved vegetables ($18).
Chef Pung also offers braised lion Impossible meat balls with oyster sauce ($20) - a take on the popular lion's head (shi zi tou) dish featuring large pork balls.
Here, the balls are smaller and served with cabbage and mushrooms.
Portions are generous and good for sharing between two and four people.
Where: 01-04 Link Hotel, 50 Tiong Bahru Road
Info: Call 6909-5700 or go to Tasty Loong's Facebook
Da Paolo Group
What: For an easy introduction to plant-based pork, you cannot go wrong with pasta and pizza. Plus the dishes are available for takeaway and delivery.
Da Paolo Pizza Bar at Holland Village offers an Impossible Pork Pizza ($35) which includes sauteed mushrooms, barbecued tomato sauce, arugula and chilli aioli.
Its sister concept, Da Paolo Gastronomia, features Impossible Carbonara ai Peperoni ($22), a mildly spicy pasta coated in a creamy sauce with Impossible Pork, braised pepper, smoked paprika and fresh chilli. It is also available for delivery only from its virtual brand Da Paolo Pasta Bar.
For a convenient option, go for the Mediterranean Impossible Pork Pie ($14.90), which is part of the ready-to-eat range at selected Da Paolo Gastronomia outlets at Great World, Paragon and Cluny Court.
The pie is filled with a spiced mix of Impossible Pork and Italian tomato sauce, with the textures of portobello mushrooms, potatoes and chickpeas.
Where: Da Paolo Gastronomia outlets include 01-163 Great World, 1 Kim Seng Promenade, and B1-K8 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road; Da Paolo Pizza Bar, 44 Jalan Merah Saga, 01-46
Info: Da Paolo's website
What: Reminiscent of a Peking duck wrap, the crispy Impossible Pork served with pancake and fresh fruit ($12.80) is one of my favourite dishes featuring the meat substitute.
The small pork patty has a crisp exterior and gets extra crunch - usually associated with the Peking duck skin - from the fried beancurd skin and shredded cucumber tucked below the pork.
The other dish that I want more of is the Impossible Cracker ($12) - deep-fried thin slices of the meat that remind me of highly addictive luncheon meat chips.
More classic dishes featuring the meat include braised beancurd with minced Impossible Pork in spicy sauce ($13 or $26), a take on mapo tofu; and claypot rice with Impossible Pork cubes and preserved vegetables ($12.80).
Where: 02-18 Orchard Rendezvous Hotel, 1 Tanglin Road; and 02-88 Clarke Quay Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street
Info: Tunglok Signature's website