Los Feliz News
Spotlight: Umami Burger
By Stephen Manning
Jul 17, 2012 - 10:25:38 AM


LOS Feliz—When it comes the king of sandwiches, the hamburger, it can be tough to find ways to differentiate such a simple formula: a beef paddy on a bun with cheese and perhaps some lettuce and tomato. While many burger joints are struggling to distance themselves from the traditional image of this classic meal, Umami Burger has created a class of it’s own.


The first thing you notice when walking into the Los Feliz location of Umami Burger is that it doesn’t look like most burger joints. There’s no hint of a fast food atmosphere, in fact, the place looks more like a gastro pub or bistro. The room is a little dim, but this adds to the relaxed atmosphere. Decorations from the location’s previous occupier remain scattered about the room. Somehow, the partially illuminated “Chow Fun” sign, which now says “how fun” and the Chinese symbols all over one wall make the place seem artsy. The people scattered about the room are just as eccentric as the décor.


The Umami menu is simple, several burger choices, variations of fries and an impressive list of beers and homemade cocktails to choose from. The burgers seem small upon arrival at the table, but are surprisingly filling with all the additions. Some burgers will appeal more to differing taste buds depending on the eater. I found the Truffle Burger lacking in any particular flavor, namely truffle. However the Carnitas Burger had to be one of the most unique and delicious burgers I’ve ever eaten. Other variations include the Hatch Burger, which is piled with 4 types of green chilies, the Port & Stiliton Burger covered in blue cheese and port-caramelized onions, and the Umami Burger with shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, a unique parmesan wafer, and Umami’s special ketchup.


While some of the burgers were more impressive than others, the fries were the star of this show. The sweet potato fries, a menu item that in my humble opinion has been overdone lately, are absolutely delightful. Crispy, and sprinkled with brown sugar, the sweetness of the potato mixed with the brown sugar and saltiness of the fry make a irresistible side dish. The Truffle fries, with their unique aioli dipping sauce, are out of this world, and should be avoided at all costs if you hope to get out of there without ordering seconds.


Sitting and eating my meal, I observe my fellow burger eaters: thick rimmed glasses, flannel shirts, scraggly beards and tattoos visible under shirtsleeves and collars. This place is definitely for the young and hip crowd. Conversation of upcoming Indy concerts and the best organic food markets to shop at float over to my ears. But in the end, everyone shares something in common, the chattering falls silent, replaced by contented chewing when the food arrives.


Umami burger has 10 locations serving the Southern California area. Visit

http://www.umami.com/umami-burger/ for more information.


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