Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Umami Burger: A meaty jolt of flavor

Stamping takeout bags with the burger logo for a craftsy touch

"How to review an Umami Burger without using cliché words like awesome and amazing?" I mused as I drove down Wilshire. "Better to just describe the flavors." Beef: freshly ground from cuts including flap steak and shortribs. Toppings: shitake mushrooms, a parmesan cheese crisp, grilled onions and housemade ketchup. Bun: soft, shiny, yet sturdy, sourced from a special Portuguese bakery. It all results in one of the best burgers I've had in a long time, and it's far easier to eat than the Father's Office model. Owner Adam Fleischman, who cofounded Bottle Rock, did his research at all the burger specialists around town but came up with something different and I'd have to say, much better. I had the signature Umami burger, an excellent value at $8 (below), packed with the savory umami taste that Fleischman was striving for.The SoCal burger is more traditional, except that to replicate the superior melting of processed American cheese, they take Comte cheese and re-form it for a better topping cheese. I can't even imagine gilding the lily with some of the other varieties like Port & Stilton or Triple Pork with chorizo, bacon and aged manchego, or Truffle cheese with truffle glaze, but I'm sure I'll try them soon. Fleischman assures that a housemade veggie burger is also in the works, and in the summer, there will be lighter fare like a unique scallop burger. My only complaint? The fries ($3) were too thick for my taste, and could have used more cooking and more salt. The simple menu also includes sweet potato chips, roasted garlic potato salad, LaMill coffee and Cake Monkey desserts. You can also BYOB, and though it's a smallish space, the flagstone wall, comfy chairs and beachy photos on the wall make it pleasant enough to linger over a bottle of wine.
Fleischman says it gets crazy busy at lunchtime, as the Foodinista found out; our evening visit was completely tranquil in comparison.
Tip: Ask for aioli with the fries; or consider a side of the housemade pickles.

Here's more on Umami, including the wonderful scallop burger.

Umami Burger
850 S. La Brea Ave.
(323) 931-3000

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon


weezermonkey said...

I want! I want!

Doran said...

Looks excellent, as does the menu. It's so cool that we're getting more good, affordable food around town.

MyLastBite said...

I always prefer thin cut fries... can't wait to try this place though! The scallop burger will be interesting. Thanks for the post.

thefoodinista said...

Seriously -how can it be so good and so inexpensive???

Anonymous said...

how long did Bab Jip last?

Anonymous said...

Adam's signature burger looks delicious. Can't wait to try it. The Father's Office burger has always been great, but it's such an ordeal to eat one. Seems like Umami could be a more relaxed alternative.

Miles said...

I want to go there!

L.A. Story said...

OMG, that burger looks amazing. Have driven by several times and wondered about this place. Glad you gave it the thumbs up. We'll have to try it.

Unknown said...

i think i will go today!