“The Umami guarantee failed to work on me” – Umami Burger, Laguna Beach

Manly Burger, at Umami Burger

Tsunami, Pastrami, Salami? Oh… U-M-A-M-I.

Umami Burger is a hip, fine-dining restaurant-chain located in the Los Angeles area. After recently expanding south to Laguna Beach, I had to give it a go. Umami Burger’s goal, or that of founder Adam Fleischman’s, was to create a burger experience that echoed the savory japanese flavor of food given by the glutamate and ribonucleotides in your stomach. Weird way to name a burger joint, but as I said in my “About Me” section, Asian-inspired cuisine is all the rage right now. But enough about the history. I know what you came here for, the burger! So let’s get on with it…

Menu Name: Manly Burger

  • Ground Beef (Medium-Rare)
  • Sourdough Bun
  • Beer-Cheddar Cheese
  • Smoked Salt-Onion Strings
  • Bacon Lardons
  • Ketchup and Mustard

After sawing back and forth for lack of a real knife, I finally cut through the burger and was ready to give it my first try. As soon as I bit into it, a burst of flavor did in fact, fill my mouth. Mr. Fleischman wasn’t lying when he said that he wanted to give his menu a “umami” twist. Typically on these types of burgers, I enjoy myself some standard house-BBQ sauce to top everything off; And frankly, I was a little worried when I read that it would be served with ketchup and mustard. But boy, did it not disappoint. The sourdough bun is always a winner, and of course so is the ground beef. But I had never had “beer-cheddar” cheese before, and in truth, I hope I don’t again. It wasn’t that it tasted bad, it’s that I didn’t taste it much at all. I had also never knowingly had smoked salted-onion strings; However, they did the burger justice, adding that smokey flavor that was absent as a result of not using the typical hickory smoked bacon. And I thought I hadn’t had “bacon lardons” either, until I looked up what the word, “lardon” meant: french for a small cube or strip of pork fat. Definitely had that. And even though it wasn’t a first, it hopefully won’t be my last. When one, or a couple, lardons would be in a bite… Oh-wee it was bacon heaven! Although there were no “greens” on the burger, it did have a lighter feeling then others.

Problem was, as I ate through the burger, I would get gaps in between the bursts of flavor. Whether this was due to a construction problem, or that of ingredient choices, doesn’t matter to me. What matters is how every bite of the burger was. And this one was 50/50. The other issue I had with Umami Burger was the fries. Not only did I have to order them separately from the burger at $3.50 a pop, but they were… life-less. Barely fried, barely any flavor. I would have rather eaten In-N-Out “well-done” fries any day, over that bowl of sadness.

My judgement: In all honesty, the burger was most definitely “umami”. The problem was, it went, just as fast as it came. The flavor was in ‘n out of your mouth, faster then ordering at the drive-through. And sadly, it wasn’t worth the price. At $15.50 for just the burger and fries, I could have bought myself 4 In-N-Out hamburgers and 4 In-N-Out fries. Clearly, we have ourselves a problem. That said, if you have extra money to spend, and want to try a uniquely-flavored burger, I would definitely recommend Umami. But if you’re on a budget, like most of us, your money is better spent elsewhere.

Thus, it found it’s mark at #9 Umami Burger’s Manly Burger, in between #8 Yard House and #10 Fat Burger.

Grading Scale

  1. Burger taste… 7.5 out of 10
  2. French fry taste… 5 out of 10
  3. Burger presentation… 9 out of 10
  4. Price… 6 out of 10
  5. Knife test… FAIL (-3%)


TOTAL: 27.5/40 -3% = 66% D

*Note: Actual ranking is subject to change when new burgers make the list. Also, the percentage score will not reflect the burgers’ ranking on the list, for each burger is unique and must be graded on it’s own merits. For up-to-date rankings, check THE OC Burger List in the menu! Thanks.

3 Comments

Add yours →

  1. Genevieve Davis June 19, 2012 — 2:51 PM

    I just went there for the first time a few days ago. The burger was really good but I thought 15$ for a single burger & a side of fries was kind of ridiculous. I’ve had better burgers for less, plus they charged a refill for a $2.50 lemonade, which I don’t even think was real lemonade. Great burger, but not worth the price or the wait. I’ll be eating burgers elsewhere from now on.

  2. Just went there surprised they have a veggie burger. GET THE EARTH BURGER. so bomb. Even if you aren’t vegetarian…You’ve gotta try this thing. It’s an edamame patty!

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