Early birds looking to try Californian start-up Eat Just’s Good Meat Cultured Chicken are in for a unique experience.
At an invited tasting on Dec 21, members of the media had a taste of cultured meat, which is made by culturing animal cells instead of slaughter.
The lab-grown meat will be offered at 1880, a private member’s club in Robertson Quay, to club members from next month. This marks Eat Just’s first commercial sale for Good Meat, after the meat was approved for sale by the Singapore Food Agency last Dec.
Only the last course of the four-course tasting menu at 1880 features the bite-sized cultured meat.
Two chicken dishes influenced by chicken-producing countries were served side by side.
The China-inspired bao features sliced sesame cultured chicken, pickled cucumber, and spring onion, while the American-influenced maple waffle is served with a piece of cultured chicken nugget and hot sauce.
The bite-sized chicken pieces in both dishes come with a crisp battered exterior and a slightly soft texture than conventional chicken.
The duo of cultured chicken dishes ($23 for both) will be available for members of the 1880 club starting this month. The dishes are likely to be available to the public later.
The dishes are prepared by 1880’s executive chef Colin Buchan, together with Eat Just’s chef and product developer Zachary Tyndall.
In a Zoom interview, Eat Just’s chief executive Josh Tetrick says the company is likely to retail the product in supermarkets by mid to end 2022. Meanwhile, it is looking to expand to other restaurants, and “anywhere selling chicken”.
He says the current nugget product is in the first phase. The next phase, within the next few years, will feature what he calls “scaffolding” – where the meat will have a more 3D-like structure with muscle and fat interlacing. There could be cultured chicken wings, complete with bones and cartilage, in the third phase, he adds.
Other products in the pipeline include beef patties and pork sausages.
With plans to scale up production, Mr Tetrick is looking to accelerate the set up of Eat Just’s protein production facility here – but is unsure whether the production of Eat Just’s plant-based Just Egg will be in the same compound as those producing the other meats.
Mr Ng Yeen Chern, a director in TL Investments, was one of the diners who tried the cultured chicken last Sunday.
He says: “The nugget really tasted like a nugget. If I closed my eyes, I don’t think I can tell the difference between the cell-based meat and real meat. I’ve tried other alternative beef before as well, and those are pretty convincing too.”
Text: Eunice Quek/The Straits Times