Los Angeles is the fast food capital of America, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to cater to the taste of foodie culture. Even though it’s less than a decade old, Umami Burger’s innovative take on the classic American sandwich has grown out of California and is quickly spreading across the United States.
Founder Adam Fleischman came up with the name while eating an In-N-Out, wondering what made the burgers so good. While perusing food blogs, he discovered the term umami, which is one of the five basic tastes our tongue can sense. Umami can be described as the savory flavor you get from meat and vegetables, often found in the form of glutamates, which you’ve heard from the substance known as MSG.
Despite rumors, Fleischman does not use MSG in his restaurants, and has instead done extensive research into ingredients rich in umami properties such as soy sauce, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Umami Burger has an interesting menu of burger creations that change from restaurant to restaurant, giving each location a unique taste. They discourage substitutions, as each combination was crafted to maximize its umami flavor.
Since I had never been to this chain before, I decided to try a bite of the regular Umami burger before digging into the Manly. The Umami is your traditional burger topped with cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms. Despite the usual ingredients, you can tell that the restaurant puts a lot of thought into their creations. The mushrooms and soy-roasted tomatoes really bring out the beefy flavor of the patty, which was cooked medium rare with just a bit of char on the outside.
Looking around, the décor is perfect for an upscale burger joint. Kanji and wood paneling stretch across the walls, with Japanese dolls lining the shelf in the back. Exposed bulbs light up the café tables, allowing you to enjoy your burger without any unnecessary distractions.
My Manly burger was much more impressive, topped with bear-cheddar cheese, smoked onion strings and bacon lardons, which are essentially small slices of bacon with lots of fat. Again, everything about the sandwich was made to project its umami flavor, so much so I found the bacon actually overpowered the beef patty. This wasn’t necessarily a bad taste, but I would have preferred a little more complexity to the flavor profile.
4655 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, Calif. 90027
323 669 3922
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