If you couldn’t really tell from my previous posts, I am not really a “burger girl.” Save for one particular spot in Davis whose bacon cheeseburgers I actually dream about, I never order burgers at restaurants. I just feel like there are so many other interesting things to order off of menus, and unless there is something on the burger that really catches my eye (read: pork belly, gruyere, fried egg, a combination of the the three), I just won’t go there.
Umami Burger is a little different in that they only serve burgers, so there isn’t really a choice. The hype surrounding this place is huge; with a few of locations in southern California, the chain has moved it’s way north to San Francisco and recently opened its doors to people like me – people who want a little more ooomph on their burger. The draw to this restaurant is that the burgers are designed specifically to impart that “umami” (savory, essentially) taste on whoever is eating them. Because of this, the burgers are a little unusual. I had heard a lot about this place, so I dragged Andrew and Albano here when I was recently in San Francisco. Did it live up to the hype? For the most part, yes.
We started, as one should, with the truffle cheese fries off the ‘secret menu.’ There are really only two items on this menu – these fries, and some cheesy tots – so I’m not sure what the point of the menu is, HOWEVER this were incredible. Even Andrew, someone who avoids fancier foods at all costs, freaked out about how good these were. Covered in melted truffle cheese, perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these are a must have.
To accompany the fries, we ordered all the different house dipping sauces. They are, from bottom to top: Jalapeno Ranch, Dijon Mustard, Habanero Sauce (SPICY), Garlic Aioli (omg), House Thousand Island, and Umami Ketchup. Obviously I did not try the ketchup because it is my life’s purpose to avoid that condiment at all costs, however all the other sauces were excellent. The garlic aioli was the best…you could definitely taste the roasted dimension of the garlic.
Because I always have to get the most complicated thing on the menu, I chose to get the Bacon Wrapped Scallop Burger. The name of this burger is a little misleading in that it is not actually wrapped in bacon – it is actually topped with pork belly which is a okay with me. The patty is made of scallops, and it is excellent. I find that scallops can be either really hit or really miss, and this was definitely the former. It was the most tender bite of scallops I have ever had, and the patty was complimented greatly by the salty pork belly. The sauce on this was a yuzu-garlic aioli, and it was also very good. I just wish it had been a little bigger for the price ($15…I know).
Andrew and Albano both got the Truffle Burger, which is a hamburger patty with house made truffle cheese (same stuff they put on the fries) and truffle glaze. While this seems basic and lacking in toppings, the cheese is very strong and with any other accompaniments I think it would have been way too much. That being said, I enjoyed the bites that I had of this burger, and would recommend it. The hamburger meat is extremely moist, but if you don’t like your meat on the rare side, you should definitely specify that because I think that default for their beef patties is medium rare. I really enjoyed the bun on this burger (and the scallop one) – it help up nicely to the juiciness of the burger. Again though, I wish the burger had been slightly bigger.
In all, I would recommend going here, if only to try some of their more unique menu items, like the scallop burger. They have a lot of other great sounding hamburgers that I would definitely be willing to try, so I do want to return here. The only complaint I have is that the burgers should probably be a little bigger for the price point, but other than that, no real gripes here. Just one thing…MAKE SURE you get those truffle cheese fries.