Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rate-A-Restaurant #216: Umami Burger

Restaurant: Umami Burger

Location: 850 S. La Brea (Mid-Wilshire)

Type of restaurant: Burgers

We stipulated: Meeting someone for lunch, they suggested Umami Burger -- and since (A) it's close to my office and (B) I'd never been, I was sold. It meant missing the food trucks that I'd been itching to try outside our offices that day... but I would live.

They stipulated: No substitutions. It's not quite "Soup Nazi" strict -- you can remove items that you don't want off your burger. But don't even think about substituting or adding things.

What we ordered: SoCal Burger (butter lettuce, oven dried tomato, spread, house-made American cheese, carmelized onions), $9; Turkey Miso Burger (Asian BBQ sauce, avocado relish), $10; Hand Cut Fries, $3; Malt Liquor Tempura Onion Rings, $2.50.

High point: This was the most moist turkey burger I've had in years. Juicy and nicely seasoned, it's a big winner. We also loved the housemade ketchup; and the person I dined with liked the balance between meat and cheese on his SoCal burger.

Low point: Service was a bit sloppy, with our sides coming long after the main food came out -- followed by two condiments that they chose for us, rather than asking what we wanted.

Overall impression: Umami's menu appears to be forever evolving -- the one posted by Eating LA's Pat in February doesn't hve a lot of the burgers offered right now -- and that includes the real winner, the Turkey Miso. Also, while Pat complained that the fries were too salty, they were just right this time.

Umami also offers a few unique touches: A large soda selection, including Mexican Coke (although the selection didn't include any diet sodas besides Coke Light), desserts from Cake Monkey, ice cream sandwiches from Milk and coffee via Lamill. The restaurant itself is slightly hidden among the auto parts stores and mechanics on the stretch of La Brea just South of Wilshire; but it's a cozy spot, both indoors and also on the patio.

Chance we'll go back: Absolutely, I'll be back!

For a complete list of our more than 200 restaurant reviews, check out our companion Rate-A-Restaurant website.

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