Nando’s launches ‘pretend’ new menu item
When it comes to vegan burgers, faux meat options abound - but few can lay claim to tasting the same as their carnivorous counterparts.
Aussie burger chain Nando's, famous for its Portuguese flame-grilled chicken, has just released a new plant-based patty, one the outlet believes is as close to the real thing as you can get.
Its "Great Pretender Protein" - on offer this week to Brisbane-based food fans for free - is designed to bear a close resemblance to chicken in look as well as texture and taste.
"Unlike our veggie patty, the Great Pretender's texture is very similar to a minced chicken burger patty, and it caramelises and smells just like meat when it's cooked," Nando's head of food Mario Manabe said.
"On top of this, the colour and coarseness of the protein itself and the juiciness of the patty have all been tweaked and re-tweaked to make the Great Pretender an absolute winner."
Ahead of the burger's release, the team at news.com.au put the "Great Pretender" to the test - an exercise that generated a slew of surprising reactions.
One committed tester said, on the whole, the burger was "pretty good", although they weren't convinced the patty tasted like chicken.
"I don't think it tasted like chicken, but it tasted better than other veggie burgers I've tried," they said.
"I think the spice was the trick here. I won't be rushing to order it next time I'm at Nando's, but I wouldn't knock one back if offered."
Another said the patty "was fine"; however, they didn't rate Nando's, as such, for its burger offerings.
"The whole thing just seemed like an afterthought, but it's nice they're catering to people with different dietary requirements and giving them an option," they said.
A third, a pescetarian, said the patty tasted similar to chicken but noted this was a problem as they'd given up meat for ethical reasons and felt they were being "disingenuous".
According to Mr Manabe, the new menu item caters to those who've chosen a plant-based diet or a flexitarian eating style.
"We're excited to be innovating our menu and providing an option for Nando's fans which still includes all the perks of our famous PERi-PERi flavour," he said.
"We aim to make dining at Nando's as inclusive as possible, so this addition will certainly help in catering to Australia's ever-changing eating habits."
The meat-free product has been created using key ingredients from Nando's signature PERi-PERi chicken recipe range to give it the same "kick of flavours".
These include lemon, herbs and garlic, which pair well with African bird's eye chilli.
The Great Pretender patty is available to diners in any burger, wrap, pita, salad or paella for an additional $1.
Nando's is launching the new plant-based protein patty in Brisbane first, and to mark the occasion it is giving away 500 Great Pretender burgers with a side of PERi PERi chips from 11am today.
The food freebie will take place at Nando's Festival Towers - 6/108 Albert Street in Brisbane's CBD.
The fast-food chain expects to be able to offer the chicken alternative nationwide later in the year.