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Enter: The Umami Burger (Los Feliz)

  • Apr 1, 2011


Umami Burger - Los Feliz

When Alex Franzen, the genius behind Unicorns for Socialism, suggested Umami Burger as the place to dine for our luncheon catch-up, I decided to swear off all burgers until the day came when I would be able to try Umami.

Umami has a unique schtick going on, and while I could attempt to try and explain it myself, I want to finish up this review in time to watch some Price is Right. So I’ll just nab the info from the UMAMI Information Center and quote it for you:


What exactly is umami?

Taking its name from Japanese, umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role making food taste delicious.

‘ Food Acceptability’ and ‘ UMAMI ’

When humans eat, they use all of their senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste) to form general judgments about their food, but it is taste that is the most influential in determining how delicious a food is. Conventionally, it has been thought that our sense of taste is comprised of four basic, or ‘primary’, tastes, which cannot be replicated by mixing together any of the other primaries: sweet, sour, salt and bitter. However, it is now known that there is actually a fifth primary taste: umami.

They even have a food taste chart, no lie. Now, it was my understanding that each Umami Burger joint scattered around the Los Angeles area was different, but checking out each of their menus proves otherwise, so either I’m insane or they are. You be the judge. OK, after doing a so-quick-you-didn’t-even-notice Google search I discovered that there are secret off-the-menu specialties at each location and it’s too late for me to order the Smash Burger (available at happy hour only at the Los Feliz location for only $5.00).

Alex Ordered: The Greenbird Burger and sweet potato fries
I Ordered: The Umami Burger (and a vanilla soda which I did not particularly care for but it’s not their brand so it doesn’t matter)


Umami at Umami
Umami Burger – $10.00

The Umami Burger - Innards
The Umami Burger – Innards

Umami Burger: Their signature burger with ketchup, grilled shitake mushrooms, grilled (or possibly sun-dried) tomatoes, and a kind of onion wafer. The bun was lightly toasted (and branded!).

Verdict: I like that there are burger places like this in existence where I don’t have to worry if they know how to cook a burger properly. Anyway. This was a truly unique and exceptional burger. It was juicy and very difficult to put down, savor, and go back to. I felt like Pac-Man gobbling up his little virtual pellets while the ghosts were enchanted. Wah-Om-Om-Om.


Greenbird Burger - Umami
Greenbird Burger – $12.00

Greenbird Burger: Shelton farms turkey, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, green goddess.

Verdict: Alex conveyed that not only was this an exceptional burger, but easily the best turkey burger she has ever eaten. I believe it – since Shelton Farms is roughly one hour away from where we were sitting that day and has a strict no-antibiotics, free-range only policy.


Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet Potato Fries – $4.00

Admittedly, I’m not big on sweet potato fries. Nothing can top the regular ol’ potato fry for me – but these Umami brand sweet potato fries amazed my taste buds. Sweet, crispy on the outside, slightly soft on the inside topped with a mystery crumble I can only guess is some sort of bewitching pixie dust. Highly recommended to further your journey with the fifth taste.

Umami Burger in Los Feliz is spacious and friendly, with a number of tables outside to dine al fresco and an adjacent bar with an extensive list of alcohol to help you get through your workday lunch hour.

Umami Burger Bar
Bottoms Up

Would I try Umami again? Probably, just out of curiosity for their port and Stilton burger (and maybe Carnitas burger, depending on how saucy I’m feeling). Otherwise, I wouldn’t make it a habit since the menu is limited, the price kind of steep and alterations are a big no-no. The whole experience is about trusting their food scientists to combine certain flavors and textures into one, mystical conglomerate of taste bud bliss. Asking them to hold the shitake is not going to fly and it spoils the experience.

Umami Burger
4655 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 669.3922

Sun–Thu: 11:30 – 11
Fri–Sat: 11:30 – 12

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April 06, 2011
Ahhh, omg oishisouuuu! I can't believe I haven't heard of this place! I'm totally making my way to the nearest one ASAP. Thanks for the awesome review!
More Umami Burger (Hollywood/Vermon... reviews
review by . January 17, 2011
posted in The Good Grub
Umami Burger presented by The Good Grub
   Oh mama, Umami.  I guess it's true … good things come in small packages … as long as it's cooked medium-rare, loaded up with gourmet fixins, and placed on a fluffy little bun.  But rest assured, these dare-I-say-adorable little guys come out swinging and pack a load full of deliciousness-per-square-inch.  Our buddy Michael S. was the first to tell us that Umami needed to make its way into our little journey through GRUB … but since then countless …
About the reviewer
Rachael ()
Ranked #1
   I am a freelance travel/food writer with my own hobby blog, Glass of Win.   I am a regularly featured writer for Visit the Place Los Angeles magazine and online community.
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Address: 4655 Hollywood Blvd; Los Angeles, CA 90027
Phone: (323) 669-3922
Attire: Casual

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