Restaurant Review: Umami Burger

Umami was discovered as the fifth taste (along with sour, sweet, salty, bitter) and represents “savory,” which biochemically is the presence of glutamate amino acids and ribonucleotides such as inosine monophosphate and guanosine monophosphate.  Foods that have high concentrations of these substances and thus high umami content are bonito, soy sauce, and shiitake mushrooms in Asian cuisine and cheeses and tomatoes in Western cuisine.  Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is an additive used to impart more umami to food.  Like the other tastes, specific G-protein coupled receptors expressed in the taste buds of the tongue have been identified for umami.

Umami Burger is a burger chain based in Los Angeles that recently opened a location in the Marina/Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco. Their goal is to serve burgers with high umami content.  For example, the signature Umami burger is served with a parmesan crisp, roasted tomato, shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions, and house-made ketchup.  The server said they prepare almost everything in house, including grinding meat for the hamburger and making their own cheese, pickles and condiments like the ketchup and a garlic aioli. The menu has a lot of interesting burgers, like a bacon-wrapped scallop burger with pork belly and a truffle burger.

So how were the burgers?  I had the Umami burger, which was juicy and delicious.  The brioche bun was a little bit rich.  The fries were crisp but a little salty. This place is a bit pricy, with the Umami burger at $11 and fries for $3.50, and a Coke for $3.  The burgers ranged in price from $10-15.  The decor was modern, tables were not too crowded, and service was friendly.  I would go back to try some of the other burgers and other items on the menu and would recommend this place if you are in the area.

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