Friday, March 13, 2009

Foodie Fridays: Umami Burger

Abby and Shevin initially bonded over their mutual love of boba during their freshman year at USC and have since been dining together and enjoying all of LA's wonderful culinary offerings. They both love to travel, explore, and most importantly eat!

It seemed like a great idea for FoundTrack to introduce a food column. Let's face it, those of us who enjoy art, film, fashion, and music usually have a soft spot for great dining experiences as well. So now, these two young Angelenos will have the chance to share some of their favorite tasty spots in LA with all of you fun people through Foodie Fridays.

If you have any recommendations you think should be considered for the column, please send an email to foodiefridays at foundtrack dot com. Eat on!

Umami Burger
850 S. La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 931-3000


Here in the States, our palette only consists of four basic tastes, but the Japanese have a fifth, umami which is described as a “delicious flavor, savory and meaty.” Thanks to restaurant owner and chef Adam Fleischman (who you may know as the guy who founded Bottle Rock in Culver City), this intangible flavor has finally been captured in Los Angeles and is being mixed into ground beef and served between two buns by Wilshire and La Brea.

LA, meet Umami Burger:

Upon entering this brand new, stylish spot right on busy La Brea (full length windows allow drivers to get a good view of diners, and vice versa), you might think you have mistakenly stepped into a sushi bar rather than a burger joint. A modern interpretation of a bodhisattva image, modern tables and chairs create a sleek, zen environment, that is not over done.

The signature specialty of the house, the Umami burger, is made from a secret recipe that is said to truly capture the essence of umami. I ordered the turkey burger topped with caramelized onions and “spread #2”,which is a mustardy garlic aoli. (In case you’re wondering - there is no spread number spread #1). Shevin went for the truffle burger, and said that the combination of the meat, truffle cheese, and truffle glaze went perfectly together and melted in his mouth.

All their burger options are certainly gourmet, hence the toppings you’ll find on them such as the truffle glaze, oven dried tomatoes, blue cheese and aged manchego. But here’s the twist– it’s still nostalgic of the comfort drive-thru stuff you used to love (or still love), but hate to indulge in.

The presentation of food goes back to umami’s Japanese roots. The fries are the classic yellow kind, only thicker and stacked like Jenga blocks. Make sure to sample the Umami ketchup, a homemade variety that almost seems to be crossed with marinara sauce. The bun is a heartier and sweeter fresh-baked reinvention of a simple, fast food hamburger bun. Caution: goes down easy! And the burger itself? Juicy and flavorful just like you’d hoped.

Good luck with substitutions, this isn’t a have it your way type place. The head chef has a vision and I suggest you trust him; he knows what he’s doing. I would highly recommend this joint. It’s just what you want from a burger place- fresh ingredients, good service and a bit of creativity- but nothing that would scare away the burger purists. For example, the SoCal burger should please In-N-Out aficionados, complete with a gourmet interpretation of that processed yellow cheese.

This place is definitely a pleaser, with bottled Mexican Coke or Bubble Up. If you’d rather have some booze, bring a few beers or a bottle of wine—this place is BYOB with no corkage fee. Some delicious desserts from Cake Monkey are available as well. I’d say you could even take your girlfriend to this burger joint and still feel classy.


COMING SOON on Foodie Fridays, we're heading to Ronin Izakaya and Shin.

mail to: foodiefridays at foundtrack dot com


  1. We should have a BYOB party - that is pretty sweet. I love places like that.

  2. Shevin....Abby!!!!!

    This spot is so good!!! Checked it out the other night. Umami Burger and the Manly Burger were Ummmmm-mami! The gourmet Dig-Dongs were amazing...