Umami becoming more corporate?
I realize that many of you may have already thought this two years ago, being chowhounders, but I want to share a strange experience I had over the weekend there. Now, Umami is not my favorite burger in Los Angeles by any means, but by no means is it bad. I'm not hoping for a discussion on how good Umami is or isn't. Here goes:
I went to Umami Burger over the weekend with my girlfriend (to have her first burger) and her roommate, who insisted we go there for my gf's first burg. I went along with it even though I think we could have gone elsewhere for that first taste of heaven. We went to the location at The Grove.
Besides noticing that the menu was different, I got the sense that Umami has become more corporate. Signs of cost-cutting were evident. I recalled a menu featuring a variety of burgers packed with many different ingredients that made each burger unique. This was not the case on Saturday. Pouring over the menu, I got the sense that I was either rereading the same lines on the menu or that I was actually seeing mostly the same ingredients on all the burgers, with only slight variations. The latter was true.
I was shocked to see the lack of avocado on the California burger, which is something I remember well, because I had the Cali burger during my first trip to Umami 3-4 years ago (the original one on La Brea). I would bet anything that I ordered that burger BECAUSE it had avocado on it. I asked the waitress if they took avocado off the burger and she said no, and that it had never been on the burger at all. I was very surprised to hear this, considering I was positive that it did. After all, avocados and California are associated with one another all the time. I've asked a few people and they agree with me--the Cali burger DEFINITELY used to come with avocado.
Was the waitress just wrong? The skeptic in me thinks she was told by the higher-ups to not confirm that anything had been changed; after all, why would a company aiming to streamline its costs and therefore its ingredient list want to disclose that information to its customers?
The Grove location has been the least inspired since it opened. But I am pretty sure the Cali burger has never had avocado on it.
Cali burger didn't come with avocado. I thought it was called the Cali Burger (initially SoCal Burger) because it was a spin off the In-N-Out burger (lettuce, tomato, cheese, caramelized onion).
See photo of the burger and menu below at the now closed original La Brea branch: