One bite of the vegan ceviche at San Francisco restaurant West of Pecos is an eerie experience. The slippery cubes feel like raw tuna, with a similar briny, oceanic flavor. But they actually consist of bamboo, pea protein and algae, produced by a process that its creator, a local food tech startup, won’t disclose.
The faux fish dish is a sign that the plant-based food industry is moving far beyond veggie burgers and soy nuggets. While the main players are focused on replacing products made from beef, chicken and pork, several new Bay Area companies are branching out. They’ve been quietly developing products, such as a surprisingly gamy lamb alternative, for years before finally hitting the market.