Saturday, October 10, 2009

Umami Los Feliz: Get ready for green fried chicken

behold the signature Umami burger

The opening of Umami Burger in Los Feliz is cause for celebration since until now, there was barely a decent burger to be found east of Hollywood. (I dunno, is anyone that into Fix Burger?) Although it's only been open a week, Umami already turning out burgers bursting with umami flavors, thankfully without too many service glitches.
I doubt I will ever be able to replicate my first Umami experience, biting into one of the best burgers I have ever tasted as I sat all alone at the La Brea location with a glass of owner Adam Fleischman's excellent petite syrah. Since then, my experiences have varied -- a sublime scallop sandwich, a way-too-rare Hatch burger.
I'm glad they've caved in and decided to offer skinny regular and sweet potato fries, since the giant log fries never quite seemed to work. We had onion rings ($3), which have a nice malt liquor batter but could just a touch more time in the fryer to fully cook the onion. They were already out of the turkey miso burger, so we had to go meaty all the way. It was Kathy's first Umami experience -- we both liked the Umami burger ($9) and its sweet Portuguese bun, although they tend to cook them rare no matter how you order them. With chorizo, bacon and ground pork as well as manchego cheese and pimenton aioli in the Triple Pork burger ($11), the piggy burger edged into the too-salty category, although it might have worked perfectly with one of the unusual Japanese beers on offer.
Fleischman says he decided to focus part of the beer menu on Japanese beers like Coedo sweet potato beer (a hefty $16 for a large bottle) and Echigo Rice Lager because no one else has much of a selection of Japanese beer, and to go with the Salaryman theme of the adjacent bar that used to be Sgt. Recruiter. There are also American craftbrews on tap like Poleeko Gold and Allagash White.
Coming soon, after they get their burger legs firmed up, are several entrees like steak, seafood and green fried chicken (with wasabi and Japanese herbs) as well as the return of the wonderful scallop sandwich.
Umami is off to a good start, and is already about as crowded as a Trader Joe's parking lot, but since Eastsiders tend to eat after 8, get there around 7 and you should be fine.
Also, I don't have to tell you guys this, right? But when really popular places get really crowded, your experiences may vary.
Umami Burger
4655 Hollywood Blvd.

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

East of Hollywood Burgers:
The Bucket in Eagle Rock (granted not what it once was)
great short rib burger at Blue Dahlia downtown
Cassells in Koreatown
Mike's Hockey Burger in downtown
Helman burger at Pete's in downtown
Original TOMMY'S CHILIBURGER Rampart and Beverly

Anonymous said...

The burger in the picture is actually the SoCal burger, not the singnature Umami.

Miles said...

I couldn't wait to try it - never been to the la brea one - and went this afternoon for lunch. They open at 11. The umami burger was surreal, the bun outstanding and it was all perfectly complimented with the sun dried tomato spread and parmesan crisp. I wish I had known about the mushrooms on it, but I lived.

I found the onion rings pretty alright - especially with the garlic aoli - and loved the big log fries. Didn't understand the chunky ketchup, but again, I'll live.

The service, though, was fairly appalling. The hostess was relatively listless and the new waiter seemed to not have a grasp on everything. Plus they were out of diet coke and lemonade.

Anyway, I will definitely be back, especially once they have their sea legs.

The burger rocked (For the first time, I'd say it's a better burger then what they serve at 25 degrees.)

Unknown said...

That looks delicious! Another restaurant to add to my list of places to eat!

Kolchak said...

Cool atmosphere. Post modern Japanese industrial interior with real candles in jars. Food is tasty. Both of our hamburgers were undercooked, tartar. We had to send them back. Service was listless. Obvious growing pains for a place that has much potential.

Anonymous said...

I went last weekend.

two burgers
two fries,
a super small quinoa salad
and two beers.

42.00 plus 8 tip=50.00

kinda overprices if you ask me, since the service and atmosphere felt like a fast food joint, except with lots of wood everywhere.

but the burger was good, just didn't feel like a good value.

Unknown said...

Those look like the best onion rings ever!!!


Anonymous said...

Yeah, agree with the value comment. Such small portions, however good, do not deserve such a price. 12 bucks for a less than standard sized burger? Feh.

Alex C. said...

I am curious as to whether there is a veggie-burger on the menu here? I recall there was mention of one for the other location.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Pat,

Thanks for the report on this place. I never got a chance to try their Scallop Burger but it sounds delicious. :) And I'm curious about that Green Fried Chicken. :)

jaytee said...

i REALLY miss cobras & matadors.

Anonymous said...

Went there last night and although I was impressed with the burgers, I was very disappointed with the skinny fries and onion rings. Not only were both just borderline warm, but they also were bland and the onion rings needed to be cooked a little longer. Our server was very attentive and provided great service, however, the hostess left a lasting poor impression. She lacked a warm/welcoming personality and made us feel like we were inconveniencing her.

Anthony said...

I've been doing a tour of burger places and I have to say I keep coming back to Umami as the best. The Lazy Ox is terrific, too, but I believe Umami has method of cooking which gets the burger the perfect medium rare at a slow cook. I don't know but, for me, the Hatch Burger pretty much defines burger craving to me.

But I'll suffer through trying the alternatives, as well.