Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Fifth Taste

 The Umami Burger
After a day of apartment searching in Santa Monica with Jeff, we stopped at the new Umami Burger in Fred Segal to review the day's findings on apartments and make a final decision.  The long tables outside on the patio was the perfect spot to do so, and at 3pm, we basically had the place to ourselves.  Umami, a Japanese term, is often referred to as the fifth taste (salty, sweet, bitter, sour being the other four main tastes).  The closest word that best describes umami would probably be "savory."  Umami is often found in such food as diverse as seaweed, mushrooms, soy sauce, and anchovies and is the flavor that the dreaded monosodium glutamate (MSG) tries to replicate chemically.  At Umami Burger, we ordered the eponymous Umami Burger, french fries, sweet potato fries, triple pork burger and market salad.  I really liked the Umami Burger: it was a nice thick, juicy patty topped with various umami containing ingredients: sun-dried tomatoes, shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions and a parmesan crisp.  It was definitely interesting to eat and flavorful, my only complaints would be that it was a little small (Father's Office burgers are bigger) and not exactly cooked as we requested (a little too rare).  The fries were fine; I prefer Father's Office sweet potato fries a little more as they have a little more heft and flavor to them, but I do like the Umami ketchup (at Father's Office, they still refuse to serve ketchup which just bugs me).  They also have a nice beer list with over 40 beers with about 10 available on tap.  I like beer with my burgers so we had Unibroue's Fin du Monde and North Coast Brewery's Pranqster.  I liked both beers a lot; I'm no beer connoisseur, but they are both beers in the style that I prefer: Belgian ales that are flavorful, a little spicy, not too bitter or hoppy, not too heavy or too light, with just a little hint of citrus fruit.  I like the triple fermentation style; my favorite beer is similar to the Fin Du Monde: the Tripel Karmeliet, also a Belgium ale.
Pork burger; I did not try it, but was told that it was good
Umami Burger at Fred Segal
500 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA  90401
(310) 451-1300

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