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May 5, 2009 10:58 AM

Umami Burger: our 1st visit

Hi... Wife and I found our way to Umami Burger on Sunday night. We were prepared to wait -- and did -- but, the evening breeze was pleasant and the all glass/fishbowl walls made for interesting hipster-watching. Every now and again, some brash-yet-unaware table-poachers (nicer the car, the more egregious the sense of entitlement, I am saddened to report, as it re-inforces a stereotype that I so want to disregard as an unfair judgement on my part ! ) would saunter past the waiting crowd and plop their BYOB selves into an unattended table. The staff was pretty good about shooing them away, nicely...1/2 hour wait to be seated, then 1/2 hour wait for the grub. I concede that it was worth the wait... Wife had the triple pork burger. Oh man!! Never had a burger meld those flavors (pork, chorizo, and bacon) before. But the bun was equally the star of the performance. Buttery, but able to stand up to the burger and condiments down to the last bite... I had the So. Cal burger, also stellar. I could've easily eaten a larger version of either burger, but was satisfied with what we received. Being after 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday, they were out of the log-like fries, the cake monkey desserts, and the $4 pickle plate, while tasty, was overpriced by about $3... I am glad we went, and yes, we shall return. The staff were very well intentioned, the wait was understandable, and the quality/flavor of the meat (both pork and beef) were outstanding. This was the best burger I've had, since the long-gone and lamented Wimpy Burger at Gorikee (R.I.P.)... Thanks Hounds (and sorry about my un-evolved observation about nice cars and the table-poachers who drive them - I must be jealous! )...

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  1. Interesting. I was also there on Sunday night and had the exact opposite experience. The wait staff seemed inept, inattentive and disorganized.

    We were told the wait would be 30 minutes, but it was not. That wasn't really a problem so much as the fact that while we were waiting (with our party of 3), two 2-person tables and one 4-person table opened up inside and none of the wait staff bothered to seat us or the other parties waiting (there were at least 2 other ones waiting). In addition, there were several 2 person tables open outside.

    Although we checked continually with the staff to remind them we were waiting, they did not seat us or give us any menus. I thought perhaps the open tables were reserved, but they were not.

    One couple waiting in a different party got fed up with the wait and left. There was a table of 3 gentleman outside who were drinking beers. We asked them how long it took to get their food, and they said about 45 minutes.

    I went inside and chewed the waiter/host out. He said the reason he didn't seat anyone even though tables were open was because he didn't want people to be disappointed with a long wait after ordering. Apparently Umami burgers take a long time to make and "a lot goes into them." I thought his response was ridiculous. It's a burger dammit!

    Got fed up and decided to leave when I took a look around the room. 3 empty tables and all the ones that had people had no food. No one was eating.

    I'm not sure if it was an off night or there was a problem with the kitchen. But the service seemed seriously jacked up.

    I will not go back anytime soon until this place shapes and treats its customers better. There are plenty of other burger places to go to (i.e., Counter, Father's Office, Blue Dahlia, 25 degrees, etc.).

    2 Replies
    1. re: urbanfoodninja

      Hi... I don't know if the staff were decent with us, due to the chewing out they might have gotten from those such as yourself. Sorry you didn't get to try their burgers, but you are correct on two points: there are many good burgers elsewhere, and patrons will go where they feel welcome. Thanks for the reply...

      1. re: urbanfoodninja

        If it takes that long because "a lot goes into them" maybe they need to take some lessons from Mickey D's and In n' Out on work flow and "mis en place", I am sure I butchered that. Good prep work and good work flow is key to a smooth running kitchen. I worked in a kitchen after high school, the owner had great prep skills and work flow, when he fell ill, myself, his son and another employee ran the place very smoothly until his uncle came and took over.3 months later.