Thursday, April 23, 2015


Umami Burger
500 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: 310.451.1300
$$ ($15-$30)
Sat, 04/04/2015, 7:00pm walk-in
    (4 Piglets)

Umami: a distinct savory taste that is one of the five basic tastes, distinguishable from sweet, salty, bitter and sour. The umami flavor is caused from the interaction of glutamate and its receptors on the tongue. It is this taste that is the foundation for Umami Burger.

Back in 2009, Adam Fleischman managed to open his first Umami Burger in Los Angeles. The burgers consist of 6oz patties seasoned with Umami dust that is composed of dried porcini mushrooms and fish heads. From one came many, and somehow, Fleischman has expanded Umami Burger to 24 locations.

The Santa Monica location is in the process of expansion. The restaurant itself is bright, with a full wait staff and bar. The ambiance is casual and a bench sits outside the front of the restaurant for dining outdoors.

The interior

The menu consists of burgers, salads and a number of sides. Umami Burger takes pride in their uniqueness by presenting cheese as a parmesan crisp. Their bread is branded with their signature "U" stamp.

SUNNY SIDE AKA TRUFFLE ESPECIALE ($13.00): Parmesan frisco, fried egg, truffle butter, truffled arugula.  This was a great burger and probably my second favorite. The egg simply oozes out as you top off the burger with the bread. The cheese gives it the crisp texture it so desperately needed. And well, the burger, was simply juicy.

(FROM L-R) TRUFFLE FRIES ($5.50), TEMPURA ONION RINGS ($4.50), AND SWEET POTATO FRIES ($4.00): The truffle fries were thin cut fries with truffle cheese. This had a light truffle flavor and I only wish I had more cheese. The tempura onion rings are thick cut and malt battered. The batter was thick and caused them to actually be slightly undercooked. I liked the crispiness, but I wish the batter was not as thick. The sweet potato fries are made with a signature sweet salt. I honestly believe it included some brown sugar. It was definitely different, but tasty nonetheless. Out of the three, the truffle fries were my favorite.
MY FAVORITE DISH. MANLY BURGER ($12.00): Beer-cheddar, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami house ketchup, mustard spread. This is a man's best friend. It's hearty and rich just like a burger should be. The bacon lardons adds a richness that other burgers lack. Crispy onion rings give the burger crispiness and flavor. And the Umami house ketchup was delicious.
GREENBIRD ($12.00): Turkey patty, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, green goddess. Considering this is a turkey burger, it was actually quite tasty. The patty was juicy, the avocado gave it creaminess, and the sprouts and butter lettuce gave the burger the freshness it needed. This is a winner.

Overall, Umami Burger is a solid, casual burger joint that delivers good burgers. The umami concept transcends throughout the menu. I appreciate that Fleischman utilizes ingredients to bring umami flavors to your palate. The only downfall for the expansion of Umami Burger to various locations is the consistency of the burgers. On occasion, I have experienced a sub par burger (but that is a rarity). And...if they only offered shakes on the menu, then it would take Umami Burger to a whole new level, but in a good way (I guess that's the piglet talking).

Notable dishes: Manly Burger and Truffle Fries

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