When I first heard about the new the Impossible Burger, a meatless burger that is supposed to look and taste like a real hamburger, I had to give it a try.
While I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, I do try to minimize my red meat consumption for health reasons. and tend to go with burger alternatives like fish and veggie burgers. But a burger that actually tastes like a burger but is not made from a cow or other mammal sounded too good to be true.
The Impossible Burger is the first product of a Silicon Valley startup called Impossible Foods. The initial question addressed by the company in 2011 was, "Why does meat taste like meat?"
With scientific research, the company created a non-meat version of ground beef using wheat, coconut oil and potatoes, augmented by "heme." Heme is a naturally occurring protein in meat that gives meat its flavor when it is cooked. Heme is also a naturally occurring protein in plants in a different protein. This protein is taken from soy, attached to a yeast strain and grown through fermentation. The heme is then isolated and added to the Impossible Burger.
You don't have to know the science behind it, but I found it fascinating because this burger does taste quite a bit like a meat-based burger.
I know because I tried the Impossible Burger at Umami Burger at The Lakes at Thousand Oaks yesterday. The Impossible Burger recently launched on a very limited, dine-in only basis at nine Umami locations while Impossible Foods ramps up its production facilities.
I did a taste comparison - I tried the Impossible Burger side by side with the Manly Burger.
The Impossible Burger at Umami comes decked out with two 2 1/2 oz. patties, caramelized onions, American cheese, miso-mustard, house spread, dill pickles, lettuce and tomato. The Manly Burger comes with cheddar cheese, bacon, onion strings, ketchup and mustard spread.
The Impossible Burger looked and tasted quite a bit like a regular burger! It was good! So was the Manly Burger. There are definitely some subtle taste differences between the Impossible Burger and regular burger, but less than you would expect from a meatless alternative.
Gourmet burgers at Umami Burger run from $11.50 for a Throwback Burger to $15.50 for a Royale Burger (braised short rib, truffled aioli, truffle cheese, truffle glaze). The standard Umami Burger is $13. The Impossible Burger currently is priced at $16. Definitely not priced to compete with the In-N-Out Burgers and Habit Burgers of the world. But a unique treat.
Impossible Burger patties are 100% vegan but do contain gluten as they are made with wheat protein. The Impossible Burger as prepared at Umami is not vegan.