by Susan Steimle‎

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — It looks like a burger, smells like a burger and even bleeds like one.

So, where’s the beef?

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There’s no animal protein in the Impossible Burger, which made its debut on the San Francisco dining scene Thursday.

The idea is to mimic meat so closely that you might not realize it isn’t a traditional hamburger patty. The Impossible Burger is available at two S.F. restaurants — Cockscomb and Jardiniere. Some local vegetarians went to both on Thursday.

Luke Ianni hasn’t eaten meat for twenty years, so the taste threw him.

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“It was so good that I was kinda grossed out, it was amazingly good,” he said.

Like so many things high-tech, the product comes from a Silicon Valley company, Impossible Foods. It took five years and $190 million to get it right. The not-so-secret ingredient is a molecule called heme, which is a component of hemoglobin, the red pigment in blood.

“It’s a plant hemoglobin, developed by Pat Brown, that really kind of mimics a lot of the things you’d find in myoglobin in meat,” explained chef Traci De Jardins, who owns Jardiniere.

We tried it and found that the Impossible Burger is remarkably similar in taste, texture — and messiness — to a “real” hamburger.

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The faux-meat meal costs between $16 and $20, depending on where you get it and Jardiniere sold out in the first 30 minutes on Thursday.