Ah yes, Umami Burger. I had been so anxious to try this food since I first heard about their burgers inciting drool up and down the West Coast. “Umami”, the 5th sense of taste, is an indescribable savory richness that Adam Fleischman, Umami Burger’s owner, claims to have invented a number of recipes around. Personally, I’m a huge fan of meaty, savory, salty foods so this sounded absolutely perfect to me.
This location in Greenwich Village on 9th St. and 6th Ave. had only been open for a few days, but the amount of media coverage and hype was astounding. I knew I would have to arrive for lunch fairly early to avoid an unreasonable wait. Thankfully my coworker, Harrison, was equally as anxious as I was to dash over to this East Coast outpost, so we arrived early for lunch at noon-sharp and were seated 20 minutes later. By New York standards, a fairly reasonable wait.
Our waitress asked us if we had ever dined at Umami Burger before to which we replied, “No.” This sent her into her spiel about the meat being fresh cut in-house, the burgers being steak burgers, etc. Sure, sounded good to me.
The restaurant was pretty casual, but nice enough to have a low-key date night. The bar area certainly looked very welcoming, unless you end up seated next to this guy.
As I looked around the room I couldn’t help but wonder what these other two guys were doing at noon with four bottles of wine and 16 glasses, but I liked their style.
We quickly poured over the menu, struggling to decide what to order because everything sounded so good. We knew had to have The Original, the baseline of judgement for any burger joint to evaluate whether they’re as unique as they claim to be. Additionally, we ordered the Truffle Burger because who could resist the seductive allure of truffles? We also decided to order Thin Fries, which were strangely labeled a starter, not a side. Stranger still, we were prompted to order our fries “Make ‘Em Manly” style. Yes, that’s what they actually call them as if they were made from the sweat of a bodybuilder.
Although, the fries came topped with melty beer cheese, bacon crumbles, and onion strings, my first thought was that the portion wasn’t very large for $6.50 so they’d better deliver flavor-wise. On first taste, I wasn’t sure there was anything special, but with every successive fork load I found myself loving them more and more.
I definitely thought that giving the fries a good toss to mix all the toppings together helped improve the dish a lot, but I’m not sure I even noticed the onion strings, unfortunately. However, I do think the beer cheese improved over time as it began to solidify onto the fries.
After polishing off the bowl of fries, we waited anxiously for our burgers to arrive. Once they did, I was very happy with what I saw.
The Original came topped with shiitake mushrooms, tomato confit, caramelized onions, house ketchup, and a parmesan crisp. The patty was made of loosely packed beef that remained bright pink on the inside with a deep, crispy char on the outside. It was pretty incredible that they were able to get that kind of texture on the outside while retaining such tender, moist meat inside.
Though I didn’t think I’d actually like the tomato confit, the subtle, rich, tomatoey flavor paired really nicely with the rest of the toppings. To top it all off, the bun they used was almost as amazing as the burger itself. They used a fluffy Portuguese roll that added great texture to the dish and somehow successfully contained all of the messy burger components.
And this leads me to The Truffle Burger. I’m a sucker for anything with truffle flavor in it, and I’ve got to say this burger really hit the spot. As soon as I sunk my teeth into the meaty monstrosity, my eyes lit up. The juicy, crispy patty crumbled in my mouth with bursts of bold truffle flavor. I absolutely loved this combination of roasted garlic aioli, melty house truffle cheese, and truffle glaze on the quality burger patty.
And just for good measure, here’s the money shot.
All in all, if you love meat, burgers, cheese, truffles or any of the finer (see: richer) things in life, you’re gonna love Umami Burger and their unique, flavorful creations.
Got another burger spot in NYC that I have to check out? Let me know in the comments below.
432 Avenue of the Americas NY, NY 10011