Since necessity is the mother of invention and the presence of meat is integral to a hearty bonding meal, we must strive (in the spirit of inclusivity) to make meat work for everyone. Be it via the art of persuasion or creating a dupe that looks, smells and tastes just like the real deal, it is certain that the satisfaction of biting into juicy and tender meat is unforgettable, and will thereon be an experience that is hard for many to deny.
Still, the different lifestyles and eating habits we have make the crucial first munch challenging. We could wax lyrical about reds and whites for the whole day and that will all be meaningless in the face of strong-willed beliefs. Unless you succeed in creating a meat-lover-approved meatless meat, 'no' will remain a 'no' until proven otherwise. Well, if they let you prove it.
Luckily, a meat-lover-approved meatless meat does exist. Local burger-joint Love Handle launched Asia's first plant-based butcher last month, complete with a dine-in deli that you should bring your veggie-hating friends to with no context. Co-founder and Head Chef Addis Tan—a meat eater who still counts his mum’s fried Spam with dark soy sauce and onions as a favourite treat—saw a market gap for good vegan nosh that appeals to vegans and meatheads alike. So, he has since taken it upon himself and fellow co-founders Feline Gondokusumo and Ken Kuguru to continue to develop more tasty vegan products via Love Handle, while taking pride in having already crafted from scratch a range of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook vegan meats that we must agree, taste impossibly good.
Love Handle butchery features three sections: raw meats (frozen/chilled), marinated and prepared meats, and condiments and Dairy (i.e. plant-based cheeses, butter etc). In a bright yellow Love Handle cooler bag, we were invited to try a generous serving of LH ham, egg mayo and ricotta in a special bagel collaboration with Two Men Bagel House, and a mini-sized yet lavish Impossible Wellington.
The special bagel combo was very fragrant, all the ingredients sandwiched in a no-frills plain bagel to feature a very unique mixture of something like a local zichar style vegetarian meat with your classic egg-mayo sandwich. The ham was well coated in a starchy gravy, which worked well with the potato salad-looking egg mayo that we feel had actually one-upped the conventional one. The tender chunks of plant-based egg in the extra velvety "mayo" played up the creaminess of the ricotta while balancing out the ham’s gravy, giving way to a very balanced bite that we are more than happy to have more of.
As for the Impossible Wellington, the nod to meat's umami and our Asian meat passion was definitely stronger. The presence of spices in the Impossible meat and mushroom duxelle could not be missed, almost slightly peppery and reminiscent of a pad kra pao you would probably want to pair with rice. This more than worked with the impossibly buttery pastry and drizzle of wild mushroom jus. The only qualm we have about this is the overly generous meat to pastry ratio. If we could get a bit more of that fragrant pastry, we could easily go through one or two more of these without having to reach for a gulp of water between every few bites.
Love Handle is located at 8 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069788. Love Handle Butcher delivery is available online, and Love Handle Food delivery is available via Tabletop, Grab, Deliveroo and Foodpanda.