Wednesday, January 06, 2010

HFF Quickie: Umami Burger

I was highly skeptical of Umami Burger when it first opened. Here's why:

First, shops that sell eight dollar burgers are up there with twelve dollar sandwiches on my list of businesses we don't need any more of.

Second, Adam Fleischman, Umami Burger's principal, has a questionable past in terms of sticking with his projects, having left both Bottle Rock and Vinoteque shortly after their respective openings.

Third, and most important, with the original location open for only a few months expansion plans were already underway. Premature expansion is one of the hallmarks of restaurant hubris that can rapidly contract or even demolish a once-mighty empire (cf. Gordon Ramsay, Steven Arroyo, SBE, Gaucho Grille, et al). With three locations and a food truck open after a mere year or so in business, that move looked like a hallmark case of overextension.

So while the jury's still out on how shrewd a move this Umami Burger saturation of LA is, I can't deny that the burger is really fucking good.

I hit up their food truck location since I happened to be in the area where it had parked. I ordered the basic "smashburger," a mobile take on their basic Umami Burger--about a third pound beef patty with sauce, sweet and tangy pickles, lettuce, tomato, and a killer soft roll--maybe a potato roll? Hard to tell. The burger was densely flavorful and, despite being cooked medium well/well, still chin-glisteningly juicy.

With decent fast-casual burgers consistently pushing past the six dollar mark, Umami Burger's rich, fresh burger that actually taste like meat (especially in the $8 food truck version) is a serious bargain.

Locations in Hollywood, Los Feliz, La Brea/Mid-Wilshire, and mobile throughout LA.

No comments: