This is a BULLSHIT burger. I don’t want umami in a burger. I want beef, in between 2 simple slices of buns. Don’t want the buns to look like plump lips, especially when turned into a marketing stamp used to portray corporate presence on the take out bag. When I see 2 lips parted, there better be hot honey in between, not a thin slab of tasteless meat.

2 months ago, I found umami gold in the Las Vegas izakaya shack strip mall establishment they call Raku. Those Japanese chefs triple boiled & filtered bonito + kelp, turned it into some of the FINEST gdamn dashi, then used the stock in agedashi. T’was possibly the best dashi I’ll ever have on this side of the Pacific. Drinking that soup made my eyelids flutter and my spine tingle. In April, we visited a burger box where some smart aleck Americans shouted “eureka” at the discovery of the 5th favor in burgers.

Let’s all call bullshit.

In the last 2 years, I’ve stalked burgers from skinny to thick, from Covina to Compton. Never was I so offended by a burger experience as that day. Other places have mangled spectacularly (Taste’s kobe, what a waste of bovine life), some were beyond mediocre (a Yelp-touted joint in Rowland Heights I don’t even want to remember). None tho, pretended to serve food from such a high falutin’ pedestal. If a restaurant predicts clientele’s tongues will taste deep “Japanese” flavor never to be found before in this particular American product, they better deliver, of suffer the wrath.

It’s easy to see through emperor’s new clothes: throw on truffles oil, throw on shittake mushrooms (a quintessential “umami” ingredient”), use “umami ketchup” – while I do not know the “secret” ingredient, safe to assume soy sauce, MSG, dashi stock, etc – add stank cheese. Nary a person comments on the beef. Through the Stilton cheese, I tasted zilch beef in the thinnish overcooked patty.

And yes , these acerbic words cover the triple pork. If I want pulled pork sammie, I’d go to a BBQ shack. If I want a huge loaf of brioche I’ll go to Breadbar. If I want seafood on bread, I’ll go to .. nevermind, I don’t want seafood on bread. Screw the scallop burger. Why serve scallop on buns? Cuz one can’t cook a proper scallop. Why scallop in a burger restaurant? Cuz the burger joint can’t find umami. Let’s not play games. We’re in a recession. 25 Degrees burger & Guiness milkshake FTMFW. Keep your damn $4 ding dongs.

Will never return.

But others love this place:
Alli411 says “it’s so good”.
B+S loves the burger.
Domain 547 declares it clear winner over Wurstkuche.
Foodinista’s early report says “the burgers are great”.
Gourmet Pigs call it savory and full of flavor.
Pleasure Palate loves the burger.
Oiishi’s beautiful pix shows burger looking like.. well.. decaying cow, but still loves the burger.
Mikey Hates Everything didn’t LOVE this place, but still declares it tasty.
Dining on Deals had a “wonderfully delicious evening”.

FINALLY, some who agrees: Infinite Fress team thinks Umami is some kind of disease and would like their calories back.

Umami Burger
Somewhere in Mid Wilshire
Umami Burger on Urbanspoon
Umami Burger in Los Angeles



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  • WeezerMonkey

    Wow! Such strong words! I still have not tried….

    WeezerMonkey´s last blog post..Our Cheap Oasis in New Orleans

  • Aaron

    Good to hear an actual critical review of Umami Burger. Many people don’t have anything good to say about it, but are still a step behind saying anything bad. I haven’t been, but I admit it totally sounds like pure gimmick to me. Not surprised to hear it doesn’t deliver

    Aaron´s last blog post..Kogi’s Karmic Fail: An Introspection of Food Fantacism

  • Gastronomer

    Your hateful words read like poetry.

    Gastronomer´s last blog post..AMMO – Los Angeles (Hollywood)

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  • Pam

    haha tony, you crack me up! btw, i had a couple keyword searches on my statcounter the other day for “adam fleischman is an asshole”…was that you? LOL!

    Pam´s last blog post..MEOW: House Chicken and Green Onion Pancakes, Earthen, Hacienda Heights

  • Malena D

    Tony, I heart you right now. Umami Burger sucks and I’m happy to finally hear someone else say it!

  • Jill

    Ha! This also makes me laugh. I still love the burgers at Umami, though I don’t love all of them. The one I always go back to is the Umami Burger itself, and even if the whole co-opting of the “Umami” concept is a bit off-putting, I find the bun, the meat, and the various toppings quite delicious, which is all that really matters to me.

    I totally appreciate your willingness to write negative reviews — as you saw from my post, I don’t always easily buy in to the trendy spots du jour.

    With regard to your “will never return” conclusion, I say give it one more chance. But then again, I’ve not been back to Wurstkuche so who am I to make such a suggestion.

    Jill´s last blog post..BBQ Wine, Rosé, Summer Sippers and Such

  • Steve

    You scooped us. We’re just finishing up our anti-Umami screed. What a disgraceful place. It is a disease.

    Steve´s last blog post..Don’t Hock at Lu Gi: A Tyro’s Guide to Hot Pot

  • sook

    a disease? but i’ve heard good things from eaters i trust. also tony you like fatburger so i don’t know. a good burger is in the pie(hole) of the beholder.

    sook´s last blog post..Dear Hater

  • TonyC

    unni Sook, I like fatburger cuz it’s the only burger chain that can “toss an egg on it”. for that, it’s better than In-N-Out. Would I eat it over say.. The Burger Stand? No.

  • Sami

    Hater! You spent the entire article hating on the scallop and pulled pork that you didn’t want to eat at a burger joint. Then why did you order them? And you happened to try the stilton which is probably my least favorite of the burgers there. Next time, instead of hating on what the restaurant shouldn’t be serving from YOUR pedestal why don’t you actually order the UMAMI burger instead of wasting your time complaining about their logo. For the price of these burgers, the shit is bomb, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t eat beef so I’ll take my opinion over your cynicism 10 times out of 10. Of course you’re entitled to your opinion but these guys are working hard and everyone in town seems to love their burgers except you.

  • jenni h

    i like umami. i don’t love it or hate it but i’d eat there again. the hipsters i don’t care for.

  • Steve

    T.C. – I love the pro-Umami brigade. What utter fools. Sami even admits to being a part-time vegan.

    Steve´s last blog post..Don’t Hock at Lu Gi: A Tyro’s Guide to Hot Pot

  • ronnie

    ^ sami, if you don’t really eat beef then what really do you have to compare to?

    drive by umami alot. will try their sanmo location for you.

  • sook

    wow. sami is angry.

    sook´s last blog post..Dear Hater

  • MyLastBite

    Well it’s settled… I will NOT be trying Umami burgers.

    Even if they are half as good as the potatoes at XIV… still don’t need to try them.

    Cheers for the brave and honest review.

  • ila

    o tony. that was a funny one.

    i never understood fancy burgers. i mean, it’s a burger for chrissakes.

    ila´s last blog post..warm breaths fall upon

  • Holly

    Ha! I love it when you get angry.

  • amy

    damn, i see you LOVED this place!

    amy´s last blog post..Umami Burger

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  • Dino

    LOVE Umami and I eat a lot of burgers. Even if the truffle burger is cheating, it’s the best damn thing ever. And everyone there is really nice.

  • foodshethought

    That Umami burger looks lame. Just made my decision for tomorrow bike for burgers. Golden State is it.

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  • Don

    I had the chile burger and it was the shit. Maybe you were too stoned to taste the burger. Happens…

  • Liz

    After Fleishman, the loud talker at the next table to me at Umami the other night, critiqued my post for errors, I have been scouring the web for reviews and further evidence of Umami’s sous-vide cooking process. As yet unable to find it, I did find this recipe for a homemade umami burger. I challenge you to some homemade burger cooking and a doggy play date.
    .-= Liz´s last blog ..Umami Wednesday: Sous Vide, is it? =-.

  • Joe Boo

    That looks like vomit on a plate. If I paid for it at an establishment that didn’t start with Mc I’d throw it right back in the cashiers face.

  • TonyC

    Liz, once, a blogger told me someone reached her Umami post by searching “I hate Adam Fleishman”. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Joe B: good point. The triple pork did look like a pile of vomit…

  • Los Angeles Lakers Apparel

    I love the Lakers, I cant wait to see them close out this series against the Thunder tonight. Kobe looks a lot better than he did a few games ago. Go Lakers.

  • Ryan

    We liked the Umami burger because they lived up to their presentation. Most of what you mention may be true, but if that’s what they are going for then why hate on them? They never said they were trying to make the $4 all American burger. Just like if you brought a goofy shrimp tempura dragon roll to Japan. Nobody would assume you were trying to call that traditional sushi…but if they liked the taste then all power to the roll.
    .-= Ryan´s last blog ..Umami Burger =-.

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