As you may have noticed, we are deeply into our burgers here at Food Republic. So far in our look at some of the best burgers this little world has to offer we’ve established our baseline for the best basic burger, we’ve gone ducky, and even tackled the patty vs. burger war. This week we are going Umami.
As in the LA–based Umami Burger mini-chainlet. GQ named it their burger of the year for 2010. And yet this being a burger, and a burger from LA, it arouses a lot of passion among Umami lovers and haters. As for us, we are intrigued by this nearly savory, not quite salty, but entirely delicious burger.
If you’ve never had the Umami Burger experience, know that this is not your normal gourmet burger joint. At first glance, the menu appears downright elementary. At second glance, you realize it is calculated and precise.
Umami is the fifth taste, after sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, and it is the foundation for this experience. The menu concept seems to blur the lines between the “science of food” and “food as art.” Yes, we’re still talking burgers. The burgers and sides here are pairings of Glutamate-rich ingredients for an explosion of flavors on the palate. Glutamates are a type of amino acid and are commonly found in all types of foods. These amino acids play an important role in taste. Umami is easiest to describe if you think of the earthy flavor you get from mushrooms. (So it’s no surprise that funghi finds its way onto the menu.) Umami Burger also grinds all its own meat, and pickles its own veggies.
Our must-haves? Start off with a Truffle Burger, a truffle-glazed burger with truffled Italian cheese. It’s as rich as it sounds. Pair it with a glass of Pinot or the house lager, Nakhon, a jasmine rice beer that’s perfect for cleansing the palate. The signature Umami Burger is simply perfect and pairs great with a Starorpramon or Stella Artois. The Port and Stilton Burger, with bleu cheese and caramelized onions, calls for a glass of Carmenere (a Chilean red wine). Last course: the Spicy Bird, a turkey version of Umami’s Hatch Burger. This is topped off with poblanos, serranos, jalepeños, and hatch peppers, tempura onions, a house-made cheese and a Diablo sauce. As you can imagine, it has a bit of fire to it, so get your ice-cold Hoegaarden ahead of time. Also on our list of good things here: Try a Mexican Coke, made with real sugar. Diet? That’s for tomorrow.
Got a candidate for burger of the week? Let us know in the comments.