A year ago, I tried Impossible Foods’ vegan chicken nuggets with some skepticism. In my experience, tech-based alternatives to meat often hang around in the uncanny valley, making the dining experience uneasy. But what I realized when I ate the chops was that Americans’ expectations of chicken nuggets rarely had anything to do with chicken – so the vegetarian version could be devoid of expectation of mimicking perfect poultry.
Recently, a new product presented an even stronger challenge: OmniFoods’ vegetarian pork chops, which became available in char siu form at two San Jose locations from Lee’s Sandwiches late last year. Made primarily with soy protein concentrate, the strips are part of Hong Kong’s OmniPork line of meat substitutes, including a vegan take on spam made for a seamless entry into Asian Pacific island-style cooking.