Enough Said: Umami Burger
La Brea Avenue, just North of Olympic: a funky location for the high quality food and service that Umami Burger delivers. I expect this kind of restaurant to be in a hip hotel, like Palihouse, or on Abbot Kinney. So I was pleasantly surprised. I mean, look at the photos. The burgers and fries came displayed as if I were in a gourmet restaurant, not a burger joint. Attention to detail is apparent in every aspect of the food, so much that I think Thomas Keller would like Umami Burger. If you know Thomas, pass this info on to him for me.
OK, let's talk specifics. The tall bottle of Coke I ordered comes from Mexico, not the United States. In Mexico they make it with real cane sugar; in the USA Coke is made with high-fructose corn syrup. Pixie Gid (my fun, lunch companion) ordered the LA Mill Coffee and declared it was the best cup of coffee she's had in a restaurant (but she tends to be prone to a wee bit of exaggeration). The coffee came in one of those fantastic Bodum double-walled glasses, my favorite glasses of all time (I have them at home).
Loved Dennis, our waiter, a professional violinist and foodie. He's apprenticing with the owner instead of going to culinary school. Dennis delighted in telling me the care that goes into making each component of the burger. Everything but the bun is made in-house. Umami Burger grinds their own beef, makes their own Parmesan crisps, ketchup and pickles. The night before he learned how to make oven-dried tomatoes.
Gid and I split 2 burgers, the signature Umami Burger and the Triple Pork Burger, both excellent and a bargain at $8 a piece. The Umami is named for the 5th Japanese basic taste (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami- a savory, meaty, brothy one) On the menu in the description for the Umami Burger it says "you will crave this one" and it's true. Imagine freshly ground beef cooked medium rare, with oven-dried tomatoes they made the previous night, caramelized onions with star anise, a Parmesan crisp the width of the patty, shitake mushrooms, and ketchup. The buns, from a Portuguese bakery, were soft as a cloud. A little clarified butter spread on the toasted bun gave it a slight caramel flavor. It was so good that Gid only left me 1/3 of it. The rest was hers and she wasn't sharing any more of it.
The fries, cooked perfectly (light and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside), came stacked like a 6 story skyscraper, so carefully constructed. They were made from the gourmet Kennebec potatoes, hand cut, and boiled before they were triple cooked.
The Triple Pork Burger is made with fresh, ground pork spiced with chorizo and cob-smoked bacon. Aged Manchego melted on top, lettuce, oven-dried tomato and pimenton aioli. Before ordering it I was worried that it might taste too heavy, au contraire: light and full flavored. Heavenly. The light sweetness of the homemade Sweet Potato Chips went great with the burger.
For dessert we split a Nuff Said cookie from Cake Monkey: a dark chocolate crumble cookie with marshmallow, caramel, pecans, and sea salt. Simply extraordinary.
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1. There's a parking lot that a few stores share. If it is full, you can pull to the back and park blocking another parked car (like I did).
2. No Diet Coke Here, go for the real stuff (Mexican Coke) or their Cru Iced Coffee.
850 S La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90036