WHY DOES MALAYSIA LACK THE BEST PLANT-BASED PROTEIN?
It took a sojourn to Singapore for this writer to finally sample the Impossible Burger, and mind you, it wasn't a solo Hajj; other members of the Malaysian media have also crossed the Straits of Johor to sample the famed plant-based protein, each returning to extol the virtues of soy protein concentrate and lament our lack of options.
We've put our finger on two barriers to entry:
- When serial restaurateur Mr Y tried to connect with Impossible Foods, his proposition was shut down for one plain and simple fact: Malaysia's market is considered minuscule.
- Pricing is also what prohibits Malaysian businesses from importing the plant-based proteins that are currently taking the world by storm.
Chef Khong Chan Chuan of Sushi Ryu expands on the latter: "I was responsible for placing direct orders for Beyond Meat from the US. Because it is a high risk product, we were advised to choose DHL Express by air freight instead of cargo ship. The shipping fees cost almost as much as the product itself."
Even so, the Beyond Meat katsu sando (RM100) is considerably cheaper than the original Wagyu katsu sando (RM180).
HOW DID BOTH SANDWICHES FARE IN THE TASTE TEST?
Aroma: A concoction of coconut and canola oil wafted in the air as the Beyond Meat cutlet sandwich was served, overpowering the familiar bovine scent of its Wagyu counterpart.
Appearance: Shared measurements (2.5 inches in height and 2 inches widthwise) aside, both sandwiches are markedly dissimilar. While the thick-cut, panko-breaded Wagyu looks every bit the slab of sinewy meat, the Beyond Meat substitute has the granular texture of a beef patty — and a realistic one at that.
Taste: We decided to tackle the Beyond Meat katsu sando first, to shelve all knowledge of the taste test, and to ask ourselves: "Is the Beyond Meat katsu sando a delicious sandwich in its own right?" The answer is yes. The disclaimer? Born and bred omnivores could hardly mistake it for real beef.
Perfectly pink in the centre and seared on the outside, the Wagyu katsu sando at Sushi Ryu puts all other beef sandwiches to shame. Compared to the Beyond Meat sandwich however, it felt considerably heavier and left little reason to doubt an impending food coma.
Texture: True to appearances, the Beyond Meat katsu sando had more bite and less yield, though I wonder if this would be the case if sampled next to beef of lesser quality. Despite containing beetroot extract, the patty didn't 'bleed' (the Impossible Burger does); this could be deemed a plus or a minus depending on whether you enjoy the sight of rare beef.