I finally had Impossible Burger alt-meat in a burger tonight. My impressions of it:
- The raw “meat” has a weird uncanny-valley look to it, and also a rather… smell. A bit offputting, but only in comparison to beef.
- When cooked up, it does look just like beef, but it tastes and smells of, well, pretty much nothing.
- The mouthfeel is just like beef. Really good texture on it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve eaten Impossible Burger itself; I first tried it when Poquitos had it in taco form, back when it was still a brand-new “coming soon” thing that was only available to restaurants. Back then I felt like the flavor was really good (although being in tacos it was so heavily-spiced that it’s more that it didn’t have a flavor that overpowered the cumin and chili and so on), and I felt like the mouthfeel was a bit mushy.
Since flavor perception is so subjective I have no idea if it’s changed at all since then, but I think that Impossible Burger seems like a perfectly fine filler for things where the texture is important but the beef flavor isn’t the driving force. For example, this would work really good in stews and chili, and, well, tacos. But I don’t think I’ll be buying it instead of ground beef for burgers. Maybe I’m just spoiled by the amazingly good beef I get for “free” with my Crowd Cow boxes.
Another reason I’m hesitant to use Impossible Burger a lot more is that they use methylcellulose as a binder; I’ve had a lot of problems with that in the past, and there’s evidence that it tends to exacerbate IBS. All of the new-generation plant-based meat substitutes use it, though.
FWIW, I’ve also tried Beyond Burger (at Little Big Burger) and I found the experience to be lacking; the texture was more like firm tofu, and there was definitely a vegetal flavor to it that was very distracting. I hear that the newly-reformulated Beyond Burger is better, though.
I think my favorite burger alternative is still Morningstar Farms' spicy black bean burgers. They don’t taste anything like meat but they also don’t try to — instead they taste really good on their own.