No meat? No problem: 5 places for dishes made with plant-based protein

There is now a variety of meat substitutes which taste so much like the real deal, they surprise even those who love their meat

When chef-owner Marc Wee of Arbite first tried Quorn nuggets in February, he was surprised by how much they tasted like chicken nuggets.

The 36-year-old says: “They were meaty and clean-tasting, without that greasy aftertaste.”

Quorn is made with mycoprotein, derived from fermenting a naturally occurring fungus, and is one of several plant- or fungi-based protein alternatives that diners can now bite into.

Intrigued, chef Wee tested other Quorn products and started introducing Quorn dishes as weekly specials.

Last month, he launched a new selection of five meat-free items under a category called Sustainable Proteins on his a la carte menu.

The move is aimed at raising awareness among his customers about sustainable alternatives to meat.

When I took my first bite, I felt confused, in a good way. I found it amazing that a plant-based patty can taste so much like meat.

BARISTA BYRON LIM, who had his first taste of the Beyond Burger patty at Hello Baby last week

He says: “We want to cater to a wide spectrum of diners. This is a protein alternative that can also appeal to meat-lovers.”

The items on his menu include Quorn Benedict, made from breaded Quorn fillets. Quorn fillets are similar to chicken meat in appearance and texture.

He also came up with Rendang Mac and Cheese, in which Quorn Swedish-style “meatballs” are cooked with rendang spices and orecchiette pasta.

Out of the five meat-free items featuring Quorn, only the Hainanese Fillet Rice Bowl is vegan.

Chef Wee observes that the trend of using protein alternatives is picking up among food and beverage outlets here.

“If more dining outlets serve protein alternatives, more customers will be aware of these options and we can overcome misconceptions that sustainable proteins do not taste good.

“More people will be encouraged to give protein alternatives a try,” he says.

Last Thursday, gourmet burger chain Wolf Burgers launched its Future Burger, which is made using the Beyond Burger patty.

The patty is from Beyond Meat, a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes. It looks and tastes like a meat patty and is cooked in a similar manner, but is primarily made from peas.

Mr Soh Wen Ming, 35, the coowner, founder and operations support director of Wolf Burgers, says: “We take our beef burgers very seriously. At the same time, we want to be progressive and consider plant-based protein alternatives made from more sustainable sources.”

Wolf Burgers began looking for meat alternatives early last year and decided on Beyond Burger “because of its texture, flavour and likeness to meat... and even people who generally do not like vegetables will enjoy it”.

Grilled for two minutes on each side, the Beyond Burger has a colour and appearance similar to a grilled beef patty.

For now, Wolf Burger’s Future Burger is not vegan as it is made with cheese and a mayonnaisebased sauce.

The gourmet burger chain is looking into coming up with a veganfriendly version next year.

Vegan Chinatown street food stall Hello Baby started serving its Ang Moh Burger, made using the Beyond Burger patty, earlier this month.

It will launch its Local Burger, which features the patty with satay sauce, on Nov 1.

Co-owner of Hello Baby, Ms Karen Heng, 34, says using the Beyond Burger patty is in line with the stall’s concept of making vegan street food that is accessible to everyone.

She says: “Beyond Burger is a plant-based protein alternative that can be a stepping stone for meat eaters who want to move towards a more plant-based diet.”

She is not vegan, but has been cutting down on her meat intake.

Barista Byron Lim, 25, had his first taste of the Beyond Burger patty at Hello Baby last week.

The meat-lover says: “When I took my first bite, I felt confused in a good way. I found it amazing that a plant-based patty can taste so much like meat.

“If more dining outlets can serve plant-based protein alternatives like this, it means I have more dining options beyond tofu or salads when I eat out with friends who are vegetarian or vegan.”

His wish may come true sooner than he expects.

After launching vegan burgers at its restaurant Mezza9, Grand Hyatt Singapore will be introducing another protein alternative, Just Egg, which tastes and cooks like egg and is made from mung beans.

From Nov 1 to 3, it will sell its Just Egg Sandwich at a food truck parked in its driveway.

From Nov 5, the item will be available at its poolside restaurant, Oasis.

Grand Hyatt Singapore’s food and beverage director, Mr Jerome Pagnier, 35, says: “There is a growing movement, globally, of people trying to be more health-conscious and reduce their meat consumption.

“We understand that and are taking steps to be more inclusive of all lifestyles without compromising on taste.”

Life3 Biotech, a local start-up specialising in the research and development as well as manufacturing of sustainable food and beverage solutions, will launch two protein alternatives to supply to food and beverage companies next year.

Veego is chicken-like in texture, while Seago has a texture similar to crustaceans such as prawns.

They are made from legumes, fungi and fruit and can be cooked in a variety of ways such as in curries and stir-fries.

Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley start-up which makes Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger patty that tastes – and bleeds – like beef, launched the product in Hong Kong in April and plans to launch it in Singapore next year.

VEGAN BURGERS


Hello Baby’s co-owners Miles Thng and Karen Heng with their Ang Moh Burger, which is made using a plant-based patty called Beyond Burger. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Vegan street grub stall Hello Baby, which opened on Sept 15, started selling its Ang Moh Burger ($15), featuring the plant-based Beyond Burger patty, on Oct 4.

The patty is cooked in vegan butter. The burger features Hello Baby’s soya-based and dairy-free mayonnaise and a basil-infused ketchup.

It also comes with pickled yellow zucchini ribbons, beetroot chips and plant-based cheese.

Come Nov 1, the stall will also launch its Local Burger ($15), featuring the Beyond Burger patty with satay sauce and achar.

Where: Stall 10, Chinatown Street Market, Trengganu Street (near Sago Street)

Open: Noon to 9pm (Wednesdays to Mondays). Closed on Tuesdays

Info: Call 8738-5770 or e-mail hi.hllobb@gmail.com

PLANT-BASED BURGERS


Mezza9’s Classic Cheese Burger Set, which features the plant-based Beyond Burger patty. PHOTO: GRAND HYATT SINGAPORE

Mezza9 serves two burgers made with Beyond Burger, a plant-based, gluten-free and soya-free burger patty. The patty is made by Beyond Meat, a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes.

The Classic Cheese Burger and the Modern Asian Burger are each served as a set at $25++, which comes with a side dish.

There are four side dishes to choose from: fries, crispy organic cauliflower, steamed organic broccoli or a rice bowl with grain and herbs.

Diners can also choose to have the burger as a set at $35++ with a kombucha or a craft beer.

Where: Mezza9, Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road

Open: Noon to 3pm (Mondays to Saturdays); 6 to 10.30pm (Sundays to Thursdays); and 6 to 11pm (Fridays and Saturdays)

Info: Call 6732-1234 or go to www.mezza9.com.sg

QUORN WITH LOCAL TWIST


Arbite’s chef-owner Marc Wee serves a selection of dishes cooked using Quorn, a fungi-based protein alternative. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Arbite, which serves modern European cuisine with an Asian twist, has a selection of items featuring protein alternative Quorn.

The Quorn Benedict ($12++) is made with breaded and fried Quorn fillet, served in a spicy gojuchang Hollandaise sauce.

The meat-free Rendang Mac and Cheese ($14++) comprises Quorn balls braised in rendang spices with mushroom, cheese, spinach and orecchiette pasta covered in coconut crumb.

Where: Arbite, 66A Serangoon Garden Way

Open: 11.30am to 3pm and 6 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Fridays except Wednesdays); 9am to 10.30pm (Saturdays); 9am to 10pm (Sundays). Closed on Wednesdays

Info: Call 9456-3807, e-mail mail@arbite.com.sg or go to www.arbite.com.sg

JUST EGG SANDWICH


Next month, Oasis will introduce the Just Egg Sandwich, made with a plant-based product that tastes like egg. PHOTO: GRAND HYATT SINGAPORE

Following the success of burgers made with Beyond Burger patties, The Grand Hyatt Singapore is introducing the use of Just Egg, a plant-based product which tastes and scrambles like chicken eggs.

The hotel will sell the Just Egg Sandwich at an introductory price of $5 nett at its Just Egg Food Truck from Nov 1 to 3, from noon to 9pm daily at the hotel’s driveway.

From Nov 5, the sandwich ($18++) will be part of Oasis’ a la carte menu for lunch and dinner.

The sandwich comes with dairy-free cheddar cheese, tomato chutney, guacamole, alfalfa sprouts and a dairy-free brioche bun.

Diners get a choice of sides such as grilled corn cob, stir-fried vegetables, potato wedges and French fries.

Where: Oasis, Level 5 Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road

Open: 11am to 10pm daily

Info: Call 6738-1234, e-mail oasis.sg@hyatt.com or go to www.singapore.grand.hyattrestaurants.com/oasis

BURGER BUNDLE


Mr Soh Wen Ming (left), co-owner and founder of Wolf Burgers, with its beef-based Wolf Burger, while general manager Rayson Lee holds the Future Burger, made with the plant-based Beyond Burger patty. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Wolf Burgers is giving its diners the best of both meat and plant-based burgers in the form of its Best and Beyond Bundle burger set ($29.90), which includes its signature Wolf Burger, made with a beef patty, and the Future Burger, made with the Beyond Burger plant-based patty.

The Future Burger is also available a la carte at $18, which includes a regular serving of fries.

The Future Burger comes with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, aged cheddar (non-vegan) and caramelised onion.

The sauce contains dairy as it is mayonnaise-based.

Where: 01-43, Changi City Point, 5 Changi Business Park Central 1; Pasarbella, 01-455 Suntec City, North Wing, 3 Temasek Boulevard

Open: 8.30am to 10.30am daily (breakfast menu and speciality coffee bar); 11.30am to 10pm daily (full menu, including burgers)

Info: www.wolfburgers.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 14, 2018, with the headline 'No meat? No problem'. Print Edition | Subscribe