California’s Umami Burger

When I was in Los Angeles recently, the friend that I was visiting told me that I had to try Umami Burger. Her sister who is based in Singapore had watched a television program about Umami Burger, and being a food blogger based in the USA, how have I managed not to write about burgers so far? Umami, also known as the fifth taste (besides sweet, sour, bitter and salty), has been an increasingly popular catchword in the culinary world for the past few years. Taste receptors in the tongue have been found to differentiate umami flavours and therefore scientists consider it to be unique from saltiness. For me, it is something almost indescribable…like an extra oomph in your food. Umami Burger focuses on bringing out naturally occurring umami flavours in their burgers.

The namesake burger, the Umami Burger, was really out of this world. It came without adornments and was made up of a substantial beef patty, mushrooms, a thick slice of roasted tomato, a single parmesan crisp and caramelized onions. The most unique thing about the burger for me was the parmesan crisp. This is not a common burger topping and the crunchiness and saltiness (oops sorry, umami-ness if you will) of the crisp paired perfectly with the melt-in-your-mouth medium rare beef patty. Umami makes a lot of its own cheeses, with different cheeses to match the character of each burger, and their experience with cheese clearly shines through in this parmesan crisp. I have always loved mushrooms on my burgers and the lightly sautéed ones here were near perfect. This burger was messy to eat, with the juicy goodness of the patty leaking out to the soft, light as air bun with every bite but what can I say? It was, to steal a catch phrase from a certain fried chicken brand, finger licking good. Good burgers in the USA are easy enough to find but this was indeed phenomenal. 


The service was also impeccable. The servers begin by asking if you have ever been to a Umami Burger and would then proceed to tell you about the umami flavour if you have not. They also have a cocktail list that is specially created for each outlet. For those who do not eat beef, fear not. Although the menu is not big, Umami has a selection of chicken and turkey burgers and a lone veggie burger. A tip: Ask about the secret menu, similar to In N Out Burger’s concept. They have truffle cheese fries, cheesy tater tots, and a couple of burgers on there. It’s just oh so cool to ask for these off-menu items!

Umami Burger
45 E Colorado
Pasadena, CA 91105
and various locations throughout California
Tel: +1 626 799 UMAM (8626)


About Jeannice Kan

Jeannice is a world traveller and eater. She has lived in Chicago and Madrid (as well as Miami and Yellowstone National Park, albeit for much shorter periods) and has recently moved to New York City. Like many Singaporeans, she seeks out the best places to eat when travelling as recommended by locals, friends who have previously visited the city or a simple online search.