My Mouth Has Fallen in Love with Fake Meat


It's "palate".
The best fake meat (usually from Chinese or Asian restaurants) was actually designed so that the royalty and upper class had something to eat on Vegetarian Budahist holidays.
I had good fake meat at Loving Hut but I was worried I'd be kidnapped by a cult the whole time.
Veggie Grill. I know you all went down together in a carnivore pack and made fun of the place. But go again when you're ready for some good fake meat. Don't get the hot wings (only not-good fake meat I've had there). Get the Santa Fe Crispy Chicken. Or the All American Stack.

I've been a vegetarian for almost two decades, and Veggie Grill became my instant favorite.
The best fake meat I've had was in Beijing. A friend of my was allergic to meat, so that was her dining option of choice. I honestly couldn't tell I wasn't eating duck. That was 30 years ago though, so it's probably an apartment block or a dry cleaner's today. The Asians really do have fake meat down.
Fake sesame beef at Moonlight Cafe fools my mouth every time.
Ooh, and Bamboo Garden near Seattle Center. Excellent classic Chinese fake-meat textures.
Maybe it can fool your 'palate" because you don't even know how to spell it!
I think more Americans would eat fake meat if it was much cheaper than meat at the grocery store. I can get gluten in the can at Uwajimaya or other Asian groceries, but generally not with the flavors I'm looking for.
Bullion cubes are harsh. (And expensive.)
@3: I love Loving Hut and their crazy videos. Maybe they'll wait until everybody else leaves the restaurant and drug my dishes but I DON'T CARE.
Yuck. Vegetarian since middle/high school and fake meat products are as gross to me as actual meat
the fake beef at In The Bowl on cap hill is better than real beef, imo (and I'm a carnivore). Every other fake meat at ITB is horrible, but their "beef" is DIVINE. No matter what I order, I always get double beef.
"Catfish" hotpot at the Moonlight Cafe.
Try In the Bowl on Olive Way (everything is veg, with lots of fake meat options including duck and fish; my favorite there is the beef). Also a must-try: Wayward Cafe in the U-District; lots of good sloppy vegan sandwiches, although I can't really think of a standout favorite. Silence Heart Nest in Fremont has DELICIOUS burgers and brunch options, and Bamboo Garden near Seattle Center has pretty good Chinese dishes.
@9 The strange thing is that gluten just comes from flour. It's a really cheap raw ingredient. In theory.

I suppose it'll take a mass market to create the efficiencies of scale needed to sell it cheaply. So unless there's a McNotChicken Sandwich in the works, it probably isn't going to happen soon.
I spit diet coke out of my nose at this line -- "I am dangerously close to buying that meat-flavored toothpaste designed for house pets."
I'm really into the fake beef at In The Bowl.
Jhanjay in Ballard and Wonderful have wonderful veggie meats.
Careful with meat substitutes: they are not all created equal. Some are the most over-processed, sodium-laden items on the shelf, which may or may not make them delicious.

Of course your reasons for avoiding meat don't have to be health-related, and some fake meats are just fineā€”just something to be aware of.
@6: +1 on moonlight. They've been doing the fake meat (aka seitan) thing for years...

Cienna, no need to harsh on Field Roast just 'cause it's ubiquitous. It's a local, family-run biz right here on Jackson, and the owner David Lee is a founder of FareStart. And chipotle field roast? Gimme some more!
For fake meat, I have 2 favorites. El Chupacabra has several kinds of crave-worthy fake meat that you can add to any of their standard mexican offerings, and Razzi's Pizza has an entire menu of fake-meat pizzas.
"I mainly eat animals to absorb their cuteness."

I am soooooo stealing that!
@15 I completely forgot about the Wayward Cafe. I must go get a seitan sandwich immediately.
@16: I know! I have the powdered gluten, but if I could just get it premade and cheaper than the field roasts (which aren't terrible costwise, but I still not cheaper than meat) I'd go for them a lot more.
I wonder if anyone makes veggie flavored meat?

In The Bowl has made me a fan of fake meat.
In addition to the In The Bowl Fake Beef bandwagon, Whole Foods has started carrying some pretty good veggie chicken salads as well as many wild and crazy varieties of Field Roast.
I never understood why veggie places are so fixated on fake meat. There's such amazing variety and flexibility with vegetables that I often find sides more interesting than the meat they come with. Why don't veggie places just concentrate on delicious vegtable dishes instead of the almost-certainly-destined-to-fail copies of meat dishes?
@9: Also if they were really much better for you. I was just looking at fake sausage last night and it all had more calories and about the same amount of fat as chicken sausage.
Po Dog's field roast hotdog.
I had some fake chicken wings at a restaurant in Denver that were amazing. They were Gardein brand, which is also sold in stores. However, I tried one of their Lean Cuisine frozen dinners and it was gross. But those "chick'n wings" were delicious and creepily convincing as chicken, so I guess my advice is to look for restaurants with Gardein brands.
@spelling freaks, congrats! I spelled a word wrong. It's fixed now.
@22, you're right. I'm sure it's lovely stuff. I just can't stand the texture for some reason. I envision mealworms, cooked and compressed.

Everyone else, thanks for the suggestions!
Also, @34, bullshit is not actually one word.

It's really two, bull shit. Because, like, you know, bulls, and they like, shit.

Other than that, great article. Mealworms aren't that great (again, they are worms which are found in meal, but ...), but it has more to do with their diet. Witchety grubs are way tasty, cause they eat the peanut-flavored roots of witchety shrubs, and when you roast them up they are yummy!

Next up: Kahlua worms. Think about it.
If you don't mind a little venture, order the chicken parm from Razzis and have them make it vegan for you. Pretty sure they use Beyond Meat, which you can find now in many whole foods markets and is an outstanding substitute.
Moonlight Cafe beats the hell out of In the Bowl and Bamboo Garden. Best fake meat in town - perhaps because they mold it into cute little seitan chickies before carving it up.
Well, it wasn't so much that you misspelled it - more that you used the wrong homonym, which impeded the flow of your otherwise excellent writing for me. But whatever. Pointing out the error wasn't intended to make you feel bad; I thought you might like to fix it. And you did! Theoretically we should all be happy now, but it doesn't seem like you are. Sorry about that.
I was vegan for 13 years (I'm a happy omnivore now), and some of my friends used to give me shit for eating fake meat.

"How can you eat that stuff if you're morally against eating animals," they'd complain. "It's designed to taste like meat, so therefore it, and by extension you, benefit from the suffering and consumption of animals. What gives?"

I struggled with this for a time, before ultimately countering them with "For the same reason you can be morally against violence and murder, but still enjoy watching "The Sopranos", "The Wire", et al, or playing any given first-person shooter."
for future reference, it's "jibe", not "jive". and "kudos" is not the plural of a "kudo". it means praise/reknown in greek.

what meat substitute from your palette of choices will please my palate, pontius pilate?
From a longtime vegan: If you want an inexpensive, delicious supply of fake meat, learn to make the steamed seitan from Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan. I mess with the seasoning a little but the basic recipe is excellent. I make four loaves almost every weekend and cut them up for tacos, burritos, sandwiches... whatever, Most of the ingredients can be purchased in bulk from Central Co-op. It's very easy and not messy either.

And to 39, I think you were being overly patient to take the time to even address that silly question.
Why not cut out the middleman altogether and just fake eat?
Oh and at 30, a lot of places do, but that's not really the topic at hand.
Ok, this thread prompted me to search for a long-lost favorite fake-meat product: Momo's Veggie Kichen's Drummettes. I haven't seen them for close to a decade. Here's the most recent info I can find. I blame the gluten-free's for this. Killing a (wheat) gluten product because they didn't list they had wheat (gluten).
Moonlight beats all in fake meat Asian in Seattle in my opinion. Loving Hut...ehhh...didn't care for it.
@30: Because I don't like vegetables appreciably more than I did before I stopped eating meat. Jesus titfucking Christ am I ever sick of the food service industry shitting zucchini, squash, and eggplant all over my food because they think "doesn't eat meat" actually means "loves every vegetable ever cultivated."
Georgetown Liquor Company
@46 Hat-tip!
We took the Soy Curls bulk bin down to dust at Food Fight last Friday, and I just sauteed some to put over baked (well, microwaved) potatoes. I'm not sure if they're licensed for restaurants, but maybe you can get someone to cook some up for you.
And possibly available in Seattle at Sidecar for Pigs Peace and Highline, which also has Satan Fingers and 25+ beers.
@38, no, I am sorry. I appreciate it when people correct my spelling errors (and factual errors). As I just told a coworker, I must've put on my cranky pants this morning.
Addendum: And now I'm just straight-up lying. I'm not even wearing pants today.
@38 nailed it. When you misuse a word it interrupts the flow and reader's comprehension.

But go ahead and be petulant. It's so becoming.
Butler Soy Curls are the most amazing fake meat ever. According to Butler's website they serve them at the Highline, but I order em online. Magic.
Dearest Cienna, rob! @10 has oh-so-slyly pointed out another error: The cubes are "bouillon," not bullion (which is gold bricks and such). But you always look good in your cranky pants!
@39: "I struggled with this for a time"

Eesh, that's just them trying to throw their guilt onto others and literally shame you into eating meat. How douchey :(
Viet wah's freezer section has tons of fake meat
I'm an unrepentant omnivore, but even I take a particular liking to the Philly Sandwich served at The High Liner: the combination of slightly chewy fake meat, grilled onions, green peppers & mushrooms, plus whatever the melted cheese substitute is they use, actually makes for pretty tasty - and properly gooey - ersatz cheese-steak.
I know you asked for restaurants, but I've been loving Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n nugget thingies from Costco. They come frozen, if you bake them in the oven instead of microwave, they are out of this world! Clearly there is good fake-meat out there, it's just taken me years to locate it!
I'm a sly one, I am, @54. Also a huge dork.
Two Bells on Fourth Ave had (I moved away from Seattle in 2007, so it's been a while) the best veggie burger ever. Not sure if that is what you are looking for. I would kill for that veggie burger right now. And I am a meat eater.
@60, I will try it!

This list will keep me eating for days.
@39,41,55 People used to always throw that one out there as if it mattered, and as if vegetarians were being hypocrites by eating something that resembled meat -- "why would a vegetarian want anything that looks like meat?" (as if meat patties/hotdogs, etc, really reflects what an animal looks like, anyway) But to a vegetarian/vegan who doesn't want to eat animals, the point is not whether it looks like real meat--it's that it ISN'T MEAT. It isn't an animal raised in some factory. I don't care what it looks like, I care about where it came from,--i.e., what it really is.. Duh. I think most people have gotten past that absurdity by now--but it used to be a comment frequently heard and when I heard it I wanted to pound my head against the wall. I rarely eat fake meat--but if other people like it who don't want to eat real animals, who cares? It can look like meat--but it isn't meat. That is the more important point. Hope I made sense. It is cocktail hour.
Not sure why you hate Field Roast - I think it's pretty great. That said, the faux beef (pork?) skewers at Moonlight Cafe are fucking awesome.

And yes, I love the chicken spheres at Bamboo Garden as well.

I not a vegetarian, by the way.
#13 is right, the beef at in the bowl is amazing, but the rest of the fake meat there is awful*. Like, barf-inducingly bad.

*The chicken nuggets are pretty good, but they're just deep-fried morningstar chicken nuggets so that'd be hard to screw up. The other fake meat - the chicken and fish and (shudder) prawns - don't do it. Only beef.
@62: The only rationale I've heard for not relying on meat substitutes is to avoid restaurants from unintentionally or through mistranslation substituting actual meat for fake.
I'm an omnivore myself, but my man is a pescatarian - and so far one of his favourites is The Lucky Diner's - Vegetarian Ruben- Vegetarian Field Roast, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut,
thousand island dressing on grilled rye bread.
I have to counter @ 7. Bamboo Garden is the absolute worst restaurant in the world.
If you're in to the Two Bells veggie burger, then the Latona Pub's black bean burger is f'ing amazing.

Someone who cooked 10 lbs of meat at home last week
@61 Hey Cienna, would you consider posting your list you've compiled from the comments here on Slog? I was considering writing these down myself, but if you're already at it...
THRIVE vegan ROOSEVELT. They have the bella burger..which is a RAW VEGAN BURGER. It is simply SO DELICIOUS...SO STUNNING...SO EFFERVESCENT that one is so in awe that they are unable to take more than one bite! The burger is not only more delicious than meat...but it's not made of soy or seitan! It's made of PURE LOVE. I won't tell you how they actually make it...just try it! Thrive also has a fun cult vibe to scientology meets raw veganism!
@46: Huh, interesting. I guess I just ASSumed vegetarians must like veggies as much as I (omnivore) do.
Maybe eating all that fake meat is making her cranky...
Maybe the tapeworm that makes Cienna hungry all the time is what's making her cranky.
"I mainly eat animals to absorb their cuteness."

Can't argue with success!
Jjanjay in Wallingford and Ballard is the best Thai in Seattle, and coincidentally is vegetarian - just tofu, no reformulated soy products. Agree with In the Bowl recommendations though.
@61, yes! I will do that. In fact, I might do a systematic review of the very specific items that are recommended in the comments. With shitty pictures taken on my shitty cell phone, even!
@72, 73 I would guess that getting up at 5:00 a.m. to write the Morning News this week is making me cranky.
Ocho in Ballard always has a house made vegetarian chorizo dish on the menu
I'm in favor of fake meat. Less competition to buy the real thing means cheaper steaks.
At Pizza Pi (55th and the Ave in the U-District) you can get faux versions of chicken, hamburger, bacon, ham, sausage or pepperoni on your pizza. For chicken they have the always amazing Gardein and also the new Beyond Meat if you know to ask for it.

And I wholeheartedly agree about Moonlight being AMAAAAAAAZING.
Check out You may find a few products you enjoy - including vegetarian bacon flavored popcorn, bacon flavored salt, vegetarian meat replacements, and lots of vegetarian jerky.
Check out You may find a few products you enjoy - including vegetarian bacon flavored popcorn, bacon flavored salt, vegetarian meat replacements, and lots of vegetarian jerky.
Moonlight is excellent, Bamboo Garden can be very good, but I think the best I've had is in the vegetarian dishes at Green Leaf (which is not a vegetarian restaurant). In the Bowl is strictly for people who don't leave the Hill. It's not very good.
Hi Cienna, I am on Field Roast's marketing team. Doesn't sound like I'll change your mind there. As a vegan, I personally, highly recommend Plum Cafe's Really Big Burger (formerly Sage Cafe on 15th). It's insane. A must try!