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Umami Burger (Downtown L.A.)

March 27, 2018

  • 852 S. Broadway
  • Los Angeles, CA 90014
  • (213) 413-8626
  • Website
  • Menu

Our first full day in Los Angeles was also our busiest.  We got our start at about 9:00 AM and worked straight through until 4 PM.  We didn’t even noticed we missed lunch.

We headed back to the hotel to work on some more things just after 4:00.  Along the way, my co-worker asked about dinner.  I figured we could take an hour break and still get done what we needed to get done and I  noticed a restaurant just down the street from our hotel that I wasn’t going to miss on this trip.

Umami Burger is a Los Angeles based group of restaurants that specialize in serving amazing burgers.  They call themselves a “group” and not a “chain” because the food is not designed to be the same from location to location.  Each restaurant is supposed to be unique based on the location and the culinary team in place.  There are  locations with stores in California, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York.  The original location was on La Brea Avenue but has since closed due to the size and lack of liquor license.  The flagship store is now on the corner of Broadway and 9th in downtown L.A.

The Broadway location is in the heart of the Broadway Theater District. The area was well known in the early days of the film industry for it’s movie palaces, Nickelodeons and Vaudeville Theaters.  The restaurant itself is next to the Orpheum Theater in the Ninth and Broadway Building which was built in 1930.

We were still kind of operating on East Coast time so at 4:15 PT when we walked in, we were well past our dinner time.

The restaurant was pretty empty but again, it was early local time.  The restaurant is set up with a nice big bar along one wall and several four tops filled in to the space.  The restaurant makes use of reclaimed wood on the bar and tables while sticking to a concrete floor and bare concrete walls that are lit with exposed “Edison bulbs.”

We were taken to a table near the back of the space.  Our server set down the drink menus as well as the food menu then explained what “Umami” meant and how they incorporate it into their food.  I had heard of the restaurant before and knew of it’s reputation before we sat down. My co-worker never had.

First thing I did was start with a beer.  I wanted to stay as local as I could so I ordered a Wolf Pup Session IPA from Golden Road Brewing from right there in L.A.  It was a session beer so it didn’t pack a big hop wallop but it was slightly bitter and very drinkable.  A solid session IPA.

So, what makes Umami Burger so special?  Well, it’s the care they take in preparing the best possible burger.  They use Waygu beef that’s ground in house.  The beef is seasoned with “Umami Sauce” and “Umami Dust.”  Both recipes are proprietary but the sauce contains soy sauce and the dust contains dried porcini mushrooms and fish heads, so you know there’s a very strong taste to the meat.

I ordered the Sunnyside Burger.  The sandwich comes topped with a Parmesan frico, a fried egg, a truffle thyme compound butter, truffled arugula, and truffled aoili.  All of that sounds very hoighty-toighty but when you think about it, it’s really just cheese, egg, lettuce, and mayo…albiet those are very fancy and insanely delicious versions of very typical burger ingredients.

I ordered my burger medium-rare as that was what was suggested by the waiter.  It came a little less pink than I imagined but it was so juicy, so tender, and so full of very complex and very intense flavors.  I actually left the aioli on the burger, something I  normally don’t do, and it added just a little bit of a sweetness to all of the truffle oil which really hammers home the earthiness flavor of the burger.  The fried egg threw in another completely different flavor with a little bit of grease and a little bit of a runny yolk.

The sandwiches are all served a la carte so I added on an order of Thin Fries and opted to “Truffle ’em” because, seriously, can you ever get enough truffle oil?

The fries are very thin cut potato sticks that are covered with salt.  The “truffle ’em” option adds a house made truffle cheese sauce and scallions.  I actually needed a fork to eat these fries because there was so much of the cheese sauce on top of them.  I couldn’t get enough of these fries.  Usually the thin cut would annoy me but the truffle cheese sauce was so amazing I was shoving as many into my mouth as I could at once.

When the waiter brought out our meals, he also brought out a plate of sauces.  These could have been used on either the fries or the burgers but everything was so good as it was presented, I felt bad using them on either.  I did try the Diablo Sauce which is a house made spicy sauce and it was quite delicious with the kind of heat that just sneaks up on you.  The ketchup was undersold a little as, “just some ketchup with truffle oil to make it our own.”  I don’t really like ketchup so I just took a small sample to see how it was.  It was alright but I wouldn’t eat a lot of it.

My bill for this meal was a little over $22 before tip.  I honestly can’t complain about that price.  For a meal of this caliber in downtown L.A., I would have expected it to be a lot more and it would have been worth every penny.

Umami Burger has kind of built up a reputation as being in the upper echelon of burger restaurants.  In a lot of ways, they stand on their own way ahead of the crowd.  The menu can be a little intimidating when you look at all the fancy preparations but if you break it down to the simplest form, what you’ll find is an insanely delicious burger prepared the way burgers should be prepared.

Umami Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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