I ventured out to the new Hollywood outpost of Umami Burger to check it out.
I never made it to the original Los Feliz branch, but I have to kvetch a bit about the fact that I'm pretty much over the massive wave of burger bars that Father's Office has begotten. There is a certain sameness to these places: burgers topped with various pork products and blue cheese, a large selection of beer, the obligatory sweet potato fries being consumed by a hipster clientele and attended to by a too-cool-for-school waitstaff. It's not that this is necessarily a bad formula, it's just not very original.
At Umami Burger, I tried the original Umami which includes their homemade ketchup, a shitake mushroom and a roasted tomato slice. We also tried the Manly Burger which has cheddar cheese and lardons. For sides, we ordered their thick cut fries and sweet potatoes with homemade ketchup and garlic aioli.
I have to say that I wasn't really thrilled with any of this. The burgers were fine, though not as good as a number of the others available in this same genre (Father's Office, Hungry Cat's pug burger, the Lucky Devil burger back when it was good, etc.). Lardons are always tasty, but they are small chewy nubbins that don't work very well on a burger, where they tend to fall out or require excessive chewing.
The fries were highly disappointing; they were only lightly crisped on the outside and their innards were starchy and stiff. If you're going to serve thick fries, they need to be soft on the inside; these needed a bit longer in the firer. The onion rings with a tempura style batter were probably the best thing we got.
Alas, another day, another burger bar.
Umami Burger - Hollywood
4655 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027