Sure, the name Umami Burger is a bit pretentious (umami is a Japanese word that most similarly means “savory”), but this is Los Angeles and most everything is a little bit like so. According to the website, Umami Burger is all about creating a culinary explosion in your mouth with some “serious umami flavor bombs.” Then below, it says, “What does that mean?” Yes, what does that mean?
The menu is a pretty standard burger menu; there are salads for the health-conscious, fried sides, cow meat burgers, other meats/vegetarian-friendly (since this is L.A. after all) burgers, and an expansive list of interesting cocktails. Each burger has it’s own twist, such as the Truffle Burger, which is a burger drowning in a sea of truffle aioli and truffle cheese and truffle glaze, and the “Manly” Burger, which is made house beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami ketchup, and mustard spread. Pretty manly for a burger, I would say. Something a female could never defeat.
After reading raging reviews about the joint, especially when it was first established, I came in with high expectations. It was clean, the prices were not too steep, and the decor felt modern but comfortable and cozy. With its window doors and walls, everything was very open and inviting. However, I was disappointed. In no way were the burgers tasteless or bad, but they did not live up to my expectations. They were not the promised flavor bombs creating an explosion in my mouth but rather weak sparks that quickly extinguished after a few seconds. Honestly, the best thing on the menu was probably the beet salad. Weird, but it’s true. Again, there’s nothing special about this either, and messing up salad is pretty hard.
People mostly go to Umami Burger for the experience. There’s nothing too special about it. The meat patties in Umami and Cali Burgers were too plain for my taste. In my opinion, it’s a safer bet to drive to the nearest In-N-Out and get a Double Cheeseburger, Animal Style. Biggest bang for your buck and the only thing guaranteed to create a culinary innovation bomb explosion whatever in your mouth.