A world-renowned Japanese master chef Hidekazu Tojo claims he is seriously impressed by a plant-based wagyu beef product.
While last year marked the true arrival of plant-based, vegan meat substitutes as viable alternatives to traditionally farmed meat products, the trend continues with this new faux 'wagyu'.
The soy-based beef, called ‘Waygu’ by Vancouver-based Top Tier Foods, has caused consternation among traditional wagyu beef farmers who claim the name should not be allowed. But it has caught the attention of Canada-based Japanese chef and inventor of the California Roll, Hidekazu Tojo.
He was reported as saying he was “deeply sceptical” about the vegan alternative, but upon cooking with it and trying it for himself, he has changed his mind.
“I was unsure about the quality,” he said. “But when I tried it, I could not believe it was made from plants. My first impression was that it was real Wagyu beef. I was immediately very impressed.”
According to the Canadian company that produces the product in Japan, the product is close to the real thing with none of the ethical issues associated with traditional beef farming methods.
“Waygu Plant-Based Teriyaki borrows everything great about traditional Wagyu beef but leaves behind the negative environmental impacts associated with animal agriculture. It is 100% vegan while still made in Japan using traditional Japanese cooking methods. These methods and locally sourced teriyaki ingredients create a uniquely succulent 'beefy' product that will melt in your mouth like Wagyu,” the company website states.
“The first samples have already been shipped to restaurants and food producers in Japan and around the world, with full-scale production expected to commence in August,” said Blair Bullus, president of Top Tier Foods.
“The potential is great, with initial sales efforts focused on major sushi chains in North America, some of which are already testing and working on menu development for early next year. We are hoping to finalise distribution agreements this summer and begin wider sales in North America, Asia and Europe in the fall.”