In LA food can be flavored with hype or even worse, a stale reputation. Fortunately Umami continues to deliver exceptional burgers and service. Personally I’ve been a patron of 4 different locations, Los Feliz, Downtown LA, Pasadena, and Hermosa Beach. With big flavors matched by a reasonable price tag, Umami is guaranteed good.
I write my love letter to the restaurant establishment Umami, because not only do I love the companies core values but it has been a fundamental part of my own great love story. Dan and I’s first date was at Umami Catessen, now Umami Broadway on March 28, 2012. Sharing the classic truffle burger and manly burger, we split onion rings and French fries while I had him expertly choose beers for me off their extensive list. Having been together for almost two years now, both Valentine’s Day nights’ have been spent with Umami. Our first V-day in 2013 I surprised him with a replication of our first date menu, and this past Valentine’s 2014 was made extra special by event manager, Melissa Summers.
I’d purchased tickets to see the band Spiritualized at the ACE Theater on Valentine’s for Dan and I. Never giving a second thought to the holiday, I completely didn’t take into consideration how we’d eat before hand until Friday February 14. In the morning it dawned on me that, oh crap its Valentine’s Day and we probably won’t be able to get a table anywhere to eat. Searching Yelp for any possible small restaurant option around the Ace Theater in Downtown LA, I saw that Umami was on the same street. Then like a scene in a movie, the memories of our first date came back to me.
I lit up with the sentimental possibilities. Calling the restaurant at 1:00pm I asked if by some miracle they had a reservation open. And you know, by some kind of miracle they didn’t take reservations. Umami is a first come first serve establishment. Being the ultra paranoid person I am, I was determined to get there early. Expressing my dilemma to my pal Liz, she Facebooked me words of encouragement and a picture of their Umami Valentine Special.
Impressed, I commented saying my boyfriend and I had our first date at Umami Catessen and getting a table for Valentines days would be the perfect celebration. To my surprise they actually responded to my plea. Saying the manager would be expecting us. Confirming a 6:00pm arrival time, I got to the restaurant before Dan just like on our first date, and anxiously waited for him.
The table was set with a tea light candle and cloth napkins, the sweetest touch to the romantic evening. May I add our table was the ONLY one in the entire restaurant with a candle and cloth napkins. Like our first date, we ordered two burgers with the idea of splitting both so we could get more flavors. We started with the locations signature Broadway Burger, made of a wild shrimp patty, flavored with Japanese spices and topped with yuzu-kosho this was the perfect starter. It was delicious but not heavy, and left room in our bellies and on our palates for the Valentine Special. The “Heart Throb Buger”, a decadent plate of cardiac arrest shaped in an adorable heart. The special burger was topped with fried shitake mushrooms, bacon lardons, fried truffled ricotta and goat cheese, arugula, and a truffle port reduction. Incredibly rich, like a passionate love affair of flavor in my mouth, I was glad I hadn’t dragged my palate through something equally bold in flavor beforehand. The Broadway Burger is the perfect complement to any rich burger on Umami’s menu, if one were to be looking to try two burgers in one dining experience. Umami has really become this delicious part of our own love story, like the deli in When Harry met Sally but less lOud.
Yet its Umami’s participation in charitable organizations that has me visiting the restaurant outside of February and March. Giving back to the community, when Umami partnered with LAYN (Los Angeles Youth Network) a charity organization which helps at risk and homeless youth, they created the Slash burger. Like a in your face rock in roll concert that wakes you up, the flavors of the Slash Burger lived up to its namesake, and a dollar of each sale of a Slash burger went straight to LAYN. So what is this amazing burger, it’s a classic Umami patty, topped with braised shitakes, caramelized onions, house American cheese, avocado spread, wasabi, and a parmesan crisp Mohawk. The wasabi really adding that elemental kick that makes you think, yeah I probably wouldn’t have thought of that.
During this promotion I either purchased/influenced the purchase of at least 7 of these burgers. At $14 a pop, I could see how people could complain a dollar donation isn’t enough. But in a consumer society, when most people spend money without caring where it goes or to who it profits; I love when a company turns one of their products into a charitable good.
Umami is a good night; I’ve never been disappointed with the atmosphere or the food. It’s casual, yet hip, minus the pretention of “trendy” restaurants. At least the ones I’ve been too. They have a ton of locations across southern California, a few in Northern California, and sprinkled across the East Coast too. You know what to do if you want the specifics, Umami Website.
Tell me do you have an Umami Love Story to share? Comment down below or tweet me @basicallybekka!