Apr 14 2010
We’ve been hearing a lot of hype about the newest LA craze – Umami Burger – which is a hip burger joint that has 4 locations in the Hollywood/LA/Santa Monica area that specializes in burgers with Umami flavorings. “Umami” is basically our 5th taste sense which is better known as savoriness. What you should expect when experiencing this 5th taste is the sensation of salivation in your mouth – that’s umami. Now, you should know that we are not the type to be overly excited about a new fad, but moreso interested in replicating our own version at home! Ha! So, with that in mind, we headed to Umami Burger on La Brea to taste it for ourselves.
We came in to Umami Burger with an open mind and came out extremely disappointed. I have very little patience for incompetence and bad service, and that was what we were faced with during a late afternoon lunch. We ordered regular french fries in order to taste their Umami ketchup, and out came a small batch of fries… that were cold, bland, and gross. I sent it right back and said “These fries are cold. Are they supposed to be cold??” And rolled my eyes, of course.
The next major red flag was when my $9.00 SoCal Burger came out (which by the way looked more like a slider… a few bites of that thing, and it’s gone. Yet, somehow they can command $9 for that thing.) Now, let me give you the description of the SoCal Burger on their menu: butter lettuce, oven dried tomato, spread, house made american cheese, and caramelized onions.
When I got the burger, I looked at it, studied it, lifted up the bun and nowhere to be found were the oven dried tomato or caramelized onions. Are you freaking kidding me? So I waved my hand to the first employee I see and asked him why I had some missing toppings. He made it appear as though they didn’t make a mistake and that I clearly ordered a SoCal Burger. Oh really? I told him to get me the menu so I can point out the description to him, as if teaching a 5-year-old kid how to read. Next thing I knew, he took the burger back to the kitchen to fix it. Now, during this time, a couple more employees were standing nearby and was listening in to my complaint, yet neither one of them admitted fault or apologized for this mistake. Anyway, once they got our order finally right, we tasted it and was wondering if maybe our 5th taste didn’t exist? But no – the meat itself was bland because perhaps the guys in the kitchen didn’t realize they forgot to season the patty? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Now, I completely understand that people make mistakes and I shouldn’t make a big deal out of it, but from reading some Yelp reviews online, it’s crystal clear that this staff is beyond incompetent and should take a class in good customer service skills. However, despite the horrific experience at Umami Burger on La Brea, we got our sweet revenge by making an even better version at home!
The whole purpose of going out of our way to try Umami Burger in LA and to make our own at home was so we can make a dozen sliders and ship it to our friend Ed for his birthday. Yes, it’s a little ironic that we’d still be willing to replicate a burger we didn’t even enjoy – but let me explain. Umami is just a concept for the burger – doesn’t mean they own the word. We incorporated a lot of umami-rich ingredients, many of which are in the actual recipe that we found here. However, it doesn’t call out any measurements for the seasoning of the meat, so we did our own and added a couple things to jazz up the burger.
I’d have to say we were probably the unluckier ones who had a bad experience at Umami Burger, as I’m sure a lot of you out there are wildly obsessed with this restaurant – and that’s perfectly fine. Because afterall, they’ve popularized this 5th taste of umami and provided a new take on gourmet burgers. We love the concept and are so glad we can make our own at home. We could live without the bad service and $9 price tag on these burgers any day!
To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Umami Sliders with Caramelized Onions