What makes a burger a burger? The patty has that textbook savory beefiness in both taste and texture. Despite efforts, meat-free alternatives have yet to convincingly impersonate the real deal—until now, that is.
Tomorrow at noon at Momofuku Nishi, David Chang will unleash the Impossible Burger, an animal-free burger composed entirely of plant-based ingredients. We tasted it today at a press preview at the rooftop of the Refinery Hotel and it surprised us with its credibility: It's as meaty and juicy as a high-class beef burger, embellished with pickles, beefsteak tomato, romaine lettuce and special sauce on a Martin's potato roll. (Vegans note: Ours did arrive with cheese). No meat and yet it "bleeds," thanks to science.
The special ingredient is a molecule called “heme” (think hemoglobin). It’s the thing that gives meat its, well, meatiness, and it happens to be found in plants as well. The Impossible Foods team used the molecule to reengineer the burger, making their meat-free patty out of a mixture of the heme, water, wheat protein, coconut oil and potato protein, as well as natural flavors and micronutrients.
At today’s press preview, Chang said of his first tasting of the high-tech veggie burger a few months ago, “It was so delicious, I had to support it. You can mold it just like a meat patty, and when you put it on the griddle, it makes the same sound.”
Chang fans can get the burger and a side of shoestring fries for $12 at Momofuku Nishi starting tomorrow, as well as a limited-quantity patty melt made using the same "meat" for lunch or during happy hour. And there might be more where that came from—Chang also revealed during the preview that he had experimented with a meatloaf and a "pork sausage" ragu using the meat-less mixture.