Umami Burger

Friday, November 14, 2014

Umami Burger – 2184 Union Street, San Francisco, California, USA
The Original
Dress Code:
Smart Casual
7 minutes
Would we recommend:
If you’re in the area
$12 USD

The idea behind Umami Burger was conceived in another, be it, the most sought out burger on the West Coast: In-n-out. It was 2005 and Adam Fleischman was digging into one of his favourite indulgences – a double cheeseburger – and he started to wonder why America was so fascinated with burger and pizza culture. He then thought back to his favourite cooking shows and remembered the word Umami. The gourmet burger scene was about to be born. Fleischman started experimenting with all sorts of ingredients to obtain the “5th taste”, throwing everything from seaweed, miso soup and fish sauce in between some buns. In 2009 he was ready, opening the first Umami Burger in Los Angeles in a failed Korean Taco shop. From then on it boomed with many more locations opening up and was even named 2010’s Burger of the Year by GQ. Each location usually has a signature burger on their menu, something that Fleischman hopes to move Umami Burger away from the chain burger store stereotype and towards more of a classier restaurant group. For example, the San Francisco location uses its surrounding for inspiration and offers a Bacon Wrapped Scallop Burger (which we here hold in contempt). I was there for the original though and proceeded to order, wait for it, The Original. It came with a Wagyu Beef blend patty seasoned in Umami sauce (soy) and dust (porcini mushrooms and dried fish heads), a parmesan frico, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, Umami house ketchup all on a Portuguese-style bun, made exclusively for Umami Burger.

“It’s been many years since I first heard about this famous burger joint, but when I arrived at their San Fran store, it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it’d be all open kitchens and burgers flying around the place, but it was more like a Yankee Japanese restaurant. I get that’s where the flavour inspiration comes from but it was trying to be a little too cool. When the the burger came out it looked delicious – noticeably smaller than the Umami burgers I’ve eaten in Melbourne. The first bite was soft, salty and the patty was cooked nice and pink. The salty and sweet from roast tomatoes and shiitake did their part in upholding the Umami buzz, but I wanted more from the parmesan. At the end of the day, I’d say to Melbournians go visit Nshry because they’ve nailed the whole notion of Umami. If you’re by a Umami Burger in the States, I’d say try one of their other burgers that adds bacon or an extra patty. They might be the Original, but the Original has been trumped by Melbourne’s very own Nshry.

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