850 South La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
After 3 days in some of the worst rain LA has ever experienced, we were dying for some dry weather and sunshine. What better way to do it than an out door Burger Conquest with our friends Ash and Shawn from Sumerian Records! People have been blowing me up for sometime about the new LA burger chain Umami Burger and the curiosity needed to kill the cow.
Umami was started by wine expert Adam Fleischman and has quickly grown into 3 locations. What’s up with the name you ask? While it does sound like the name of an elite Japanese Ninja assassins cartel, it is actually a word for a particular flavor reaction. According to Umamiinfo.com “umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role making food taste delicious.” Beef naturally has high levels of the stuff and it’s part of what makes us want to partake in the “Glorious Pursuit of Delicious Burgers.”
I really wanted a beer and was initially let down to find out Umami does not server any. They do however have a VERY long list of unique sodas and among them, one of my favorites, Australian Ginger Beer. While we sipped on our sodas out came the perfectly rectangular and crunchy triple-cooked Hand Cut fries as well as the Malt Liquor Tempura Onion Rings. The fries were good but the onion rings were among the best I have ever had. For those of you not familiar with Malt Liquor, allow me to explain.
Malt Liquor’s creation was based on making an affordable malted barley beer with a higher alcohol content. Typically sugar is added to the malt which helps to achieve these golds. It’s more commonly served in larger quantities in a 40 ounce bottles. Due to it’s low price, unique taste, intense effects frequent appearance in hip-hop videos, most people see this a beverage designed for a lower class. For those of us that enjoy the malted beverage for what it is know that it gets you crunked up right quick! When it comes to cooking, the alcohol burns off when cooked and the high levels of sugar and malt can add an intense flavor to food. Having said all of that, let me tell you, these were some damn tasty onion rings. Thankfully we got them to split so as to save room for the burgers.
I went with the “Hatch” Burger; 4 types of green chiles and house cheese. Green chiles are one of those not too often found burger toppings that all the critics love. They have a nice tangy flavor but aren’t really hot. When I see them on a menu, I always lean towards ordering them and today was to be no exception. That and the server told me it was the best burger on the menu. When Adam designed the burger at Umami, he was inspired by the attributes of burgers from In-N-Out and Father’s Office.
Cooked on a griddle, the hand made patty is loose and falls apart upon impact. The beef has a very naturally mild flavor and is seasoned with salt and pepper. The homemade cheese (most items at Umami are homemade in the restaurant) is a gooey and buttery cloud of taste sensation. Packed on top of the hatch chiles, it provides a pallet that pulls the flavors together. It’s all piled between a Portuguese style roll that has a hint of sweetness and is toasted before it’s served. The sturdy roll is an important counter balance to the loose and melting items inside.The entire package was clearly put together by a burger lover for burger lovers.