Cafe Society

Meet more kinds of mock meat, a specialty at Sunny Gardens

Mock meat, the kind stir-fried with carrots and green peppers at Sunny Gardens, which I review this week, doesn't just come from Taiwan. Whole Foods sells a chicken look-alike from Beyond Meat, both packaged and in the vegan hot bar. Curious, I took a look at the package of lightly seasoned chicken-free strips. Despite its all-natural aura -- the front of the package features a cute chicken made from soybeans, peas and carrots -- the product wouldn't pass Mark Bittman's test of only eating foods that your great-grandmother would recognize, as I'm pretty sure most great-grandmothers have never heard of non-GMO soy protein isolate, dipotassium phosphate or "vegan chicken flavor," whatever that is.

See also: Photos for a closer look at Sunny Gardens

But according to Ben Bishop, dairy buyer for the store in Cherry Creek, the Beyond Meat "chicken" is a strong seller and "you'll be pretty blown away."

Julianaa Satie, director of the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, teaches students how to make a less processed meat substitute using gluten and soy. Rather than adding "vegan chicken flavor," she uses the creative process of cooking to impart flavor. "If you want a beefy taste, you can use ginger, garlic and soy and get a similar satisfaction level. If you want chicken, you can go with wine and bay leaf, thyme and sage," she explains.

Or if you want mock meat, you can just go to Sunny Gardens order the "beef" lo mein.

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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz