GOD BLESS FUSION BURGER!!! (IN HIGHLAND PARK)
5933 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Neighborhood: Highland Park
Fusion Burger in Highland Park. I must say, they have the best burger I’ve ever had....and I'm a burger hound! Let me qualify that, though. “Fusion Burger” is an obvious and deliberate copy of “Umami Burger”. Though I’m sure that some would quibble… to me….. they are equivalent burgers. Both incredibly great. For me, the main criteria is the juiciness of the burger. Even ordered “medium” these burgers are exploding with juice and flavor.
So why not just go to Umami Burger and be done with it? Well, here’s what you DON’T have to deal with at Fusion Burger:
1. Parking hassles – It’s my impression that Umami’s locations are in areas that involve pay parking and/or mall parking lots. I only know the Pasadena location….. where that is definitely the case.
2. A 20 minute wait for a table at lunchtime….like at Umami (again, at least that’s true in Pasadena).
3. Getting served “iced tea” with only two small ice cubes……and then a complete refill with no ice at all and the drink is not only not cold, but lukewarm. Served by a young Umami waitress with purple hair who is probably has afternoon classes at PCC and can’t wait to get back to her Iphone.
4. The “Corporate Image” they foist on you……it’s insincere and shallow. (Well, that’s the modern world, I guess.) A “U” stamped on every bun? How much extra did I pay for that accoutrement?
Here’s what you DO get at Fusion Burger:
1.Same great burgers as Umami…..but the prices are a dollar or two less per item. Bit more crunch to the patty itself while the interior is still perfectly juicy. I like that. Plus Fusion is very consistent. I've never had anything there that was better or worse the time before. Always right on.
2. Chili. I haven’t had Umami chili. I don’t know if they even offer it, but I can’t think of better chili i’ve had anywhere. As much as I like Tommy’s chili, this is much more refined chili……more carefully spiced and much meatier.
3. A “non-corporate” experience - It’s a family business and these friendly folks really care about what they’re doing. The pride they take in their operation is obvious. Often, the owner brings your burger to the table. You can see him scrutinizing it right before he sets it down to make sure it’s perfect. I’ve chatted with them on a few occasions. They’re excited about their business. They think that, if they work hard and deliver a good product , they’ll succeed in life. That’s the kind of thing I like to support in this world.
4. Easy access… they’re located in a pretty beat-up looking corner mini- mall that has SOME parking…but there’s lots of unmetered parking around. Not a valet in sight!
I like the place and agree that it easily competes with Umami.
On the one hand you have "corporate image" while on the other you have a family owned restaurant that essentially stole their concept from the place with the corporate image. If Fusion succeeds, it'll in no small part be due to the fact that they did it by standing on the shoulders of LA burger giants.
I eat at the Santa Monica location so:
Number 1 - Free park it yourself with plenty of space when we have gone for lunch (at least on Sunday).
Number 2 - Never had to wait for even one minute to be seated
Number 3 - Only have had one of their very interesting and very cold beers
Number 4 - Have only had very charming and helpful and "on top of it" waitresses without any Corporate image foisting or any other negative issues
Finally, I love their triple pork burger with chorizo. Does Fusion have one?
My mileage obviously varied completely...and this is over the space of 4 or 5 visits.