Monday, November 14, 2011

Umami Burger

I feel like I am the last person on the planet to try Umami Burger. It was on my list of "Must-Go" places when the first one opened in January 2009 (before I moved to Seattle) but then I moved and now I'm back in LA and after almost 2 years of waiting...I finally went.  

I dined at the Santa Monica location (attached to Fred Segal) and it was pretty much everything I'd hoped (and heard) it would be. They grind their own meat (every hour and a half), process their own cheese, pickle all their own veggies, and create their all their own condiments. The menu is simple: burgers, three types of potatoes, tempura battered onion rings, a handful of salads, a couple Cake Monkey desserts, and  a solid beer and wine list.

Before I go any further I want to offer a bit more info on that concept of "Umami" (should you desire it). Click here to read my previous post on the fifth taste.

The house specialty is the "Umami Burger"  topped with shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, a parmesan crisp, and umami ketchup.  I ordered the "SoCal Burger" which is topped with butter lettuce, slow roasted tomato, house spread, caramelized onion, and house-made american cheese. It was perfectly medium-rare. Absolutely delish.  Our server, Chris, said his favorite was the Truffle Burger (topped with truffle cheese and truffle glaze). Other burgers on our table included the Manly burger (topped with beer-cheddar cheese, smoke-salt onion strings, and bacon lardons) and the Hatch Burger (topped with 4 types of green chilies and house-made american cheese). We also tried the onion rings, skinny fries, and sweet potato fries (topped with cinnamon). The house-made condiments/dipping sauces were great. My favorites were the Umami Ketchup (tasted almost like a BBQ sauce), Jalapeno Ranch, and Roasted Garlic Aioli.

There are currently five locations in the Los Angeles area and a new location up in San Francisco. Over this past summer, Umami Burger's founder, Adam Fleischman, got some serious financial backing from Sam Nazarian's SBE Hospitality Group and his brother, David's, investment firm (Nimes Capital) which will result in a major growth spurt (Fleischman hopes to roll out 35 locations nationally in the next 3 years). Look for a location near you soon and give it a try - you won't be disappointed.

Umami Burger
500 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA

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