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Apr 30, 2010 12:39 PM

Umami Burger? Um, No

So after reading all the hype about Umami Burger for the past few months, I finally got around to trying the La Brea location last night and it was not good at all

The tiny space is uncomfortable and loud which made for a stressful eating environment. Our party tried 3 different burgers, the SoCal, the Manly, and a Stilton burger. We also tried several sides including their signature thick fries, onion rings, and a truffle beet salad

Truffle beet salad arrived first which comprised of a few sliced, pale beets next to a small mound of arugula. There was a scoop of soft white cheese in the middle (ricotta?) and the salad was topped with sliced almonds and drizzled with creamy truffle dressing. Nothing had much flavor except for the overpowering truffle oil

Our burgers arrived first without the sides and was disappointed at the size of the burger on the plate. Mind you, I wasn't expecting a huge burger, but for the $10-12 average price of burgers here, these were on the small side. My burger was a "Manly" burger and the first thing I noticed was an oily sheen on the outside of the bun. The flavor was just OK but the grease level was overwhelming

Our sides arrived several minutes after the burger. The tempura battered onion rings were mushy and extremely oily. The signature thick fries had an off-flavor, like the frying oil needed to be changed. The housemade ketchup served with the fries and onion rings also tasted strongly of truffle oil which was very off-putting and unexpected

For having such heavy greasy flavors, I was amazed that no wine was available on the menu (server explained the other locations have this available). I do enjoy rich foods, but this was just over-the-top greasy and I went home with an upset stomach

Umami Burger
850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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  1. Sounds like an off night. Try the Los Feliz location.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mc michael

      Does the Los Feliz location douse everything in truffle oil too?

      1. re: Ernie

        I've been to LaBrea and Los Feliz a number of times and never encountered any truffle oil. And Los Feliz has beer.

    2. I actually really like Umami Burger alot. The Manly Burger, the lamb burger, the triple pork and the Umami burger have all been really good each time I've had them. I agree with you I do not love their sides. The cake monkey deserts are really good. I do prefer the two Hollywood locations to the La Brea store. I have not been to the new Santa Monica store but do look forward to trying it.

      Umami Burger
      4655 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

      1 Reply
      1. re: wienermobile

        I had my first Umami experience last night in SM. I thought everything was delicious. Sure, the hatch burger was a little greasy but that only added to the goodness, I think. The meat was cooked perfectly, it was juicy, the bun was fresh and the chile topping was fantastic. We also had a special lump crab and burrata cheese sandwich. It was served on the same bun as the hatch burger and was stuffed full of fresh crab. Really, really good. The sweet potato fries were good too.

      2. I agree. I've now tried the Los Feliz location twice and the LaBrea one once and I am unimpressed. The sides have all been awful - badly cooked, presented, meager portions. The tiny portions of condiments on spoons are ludicrous and not special enough to deserve any sort of special treatment. The burgers are okay, the meat is juicy and cooked to order. I like the buns just fine. If they were half the price maybe I'd go there again, but I expect a lot more from a burger in that price range.

        1. The Santa Monica branch was mediocre at best. There are so many better burgers in L A

          3 Replies
          1. re: flowergirl

            The Santa Monica Umami is probably my favorite burger in the area. Better than Father's Office or 26 Beach, which were my two gold standards previously. Where do you think is better?

            26 Beach
            3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

            Father's Office Bar
            1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

            1. re: a_and_w

              Yes, I find it astoundingly delicious.

              1. re: a_and_w

                Amen--FO and 26 Beach are NOTHING compared to Umami Santa Monica.

                26 Beach
                3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                M Restaurant - Hotel Metropole
                205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704

            2. Agreed. Its greasy and lousy and loud.

              Apple Pan is still the apple of my eye.


              Apple Pan
              10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064