I've been DYING to try Umami Burger since it opened. Why on EARTH did it take me so long?? At least I was in the perfect company to enjoy it, Seattle-based chef Nicole Burrows had just flown into town and we were famished. Umami to the rescue!
The small, unassuming space on South La Brea could be a health food joint, with yoga paintings and bonsais the only adornment to the minimal space. The stamped burger logo on the paper table cover and lone steak knife let us know not to worry, major carnivorous satisfaction was on its way. The service was quick and congenial, casual and honest. We ordered three burgers to split, and an order of malt liquor tempura onion rings. They were out of Mexican Cokes, sadly, the perfect accompaniment to any greasy salt-bomb.We started with the Port & Stilton Burger, Umami's signature juicy 6 oz burger smothered with port-caramelized onions and gooey blue cheese. Wow! What a juicy burger! What flavor! I didn't taste the port, but enjoyed the robust, moist treat. The Umami bun also needs to be addressed, a soft and buttery brioche-like compliment - not at all the thick foamy carb-load that fills you up first almost everywhere else. We sampled the onion rings, large, puffed, crispy savory donuts - super tasty, and very filling. Dessert, I deemed them, and returned to the burgers. Next we tried the Manly Burger, an Umami burger piled with beer cheddar, bacon lardons, and crispy fried onions. Even better! Smokey and satisfying, something I would easily order again. But it was the Triple Pork Burger that stole my and Nicole's hearts... This burger patty is made up of fresh ground pork spiced with chorizo and cob-smoked bacon, topped with aged manchego, lettuce and pimento aioli. I felt taste buds in the back on my mouth where I didn't know I had them. My eyelids fluttered a little, and noise making was not optional. This is, I feel, their namesake reaction, and admirably achieved with.. the juiciest and most flavorful burger I have ever eaten. I have a new crack, and it starts with a U.