All foodies have been buzzing about LA hot spot, Umami Burger’s first location in New York City. After a successful East Coast premiere at The Great Googa Mooga, New Yorkers were ready for the Greenwich Village location to open. On Monday, July 28th, Umami Burger opened to long line and a hungry, anxious clientele.
I found myself wandering the Village with my sister, Amanda, on the second day of Umami Burger’s inaugural week. We decided to try our luck around 4:30pm and were met with only a twenty minute wait. I had heard of the four hour lines the day before, and was more then happy to only wait for a short period of time. I guess that’s the benefit of eating during the awkward hours between lunch and dinner.
We sat inside, against the window by the few seats designated as a waiting area. There is a full bar at the restaurant, but it doubles as seats for diners only. It’s not a great place to wait for a few hours, especially on a hot day.
A few moments later, we were led to our seats at the far end of the bar. ESPN played on Televisions lining the bar, while popular music played in the background. Good-looking waiters whizzed past us with plates full of a variety of burgers, cocktails and piles of fries.
The charismatic bartender acted as our waiter, giving us full attention while creating the unique cocktails. I decided to order The Village Mojito, which added coconut milk and chipotle to the classic mint, rum-based drink.
This unique twist on a Mojito created an extremely refreshing, light and slightly spicy drink. The coconut milk is subtle, which allows for the chipotle to add a smokey flavor without being overly spicy and unbearable. Even Amanda, who hates the taste of all alcohol, kept sneaking sips of this delightful drink. The Village Mojito is first on the list, and definitely first in my book. I’ve read rave reviews about their entire cocktail menu, leading me to believe you really can’t go wrong.
Amanda doesn’t eat red meat, which can normally be a problem at a place known for their burgers. Fortunately, Umami Burger has thought of everything with an “Un-Beef” section to appeal to a wide range of clientele. We decided to start our meal with the Truffled Beet Salad, followed by the Ahi Tuna Burger and Sweet Potato fries.
Truffle Ricotta could easily be one of the most genius things I have never seen before. I already have a weakness for all cheeses, but I’m especially on a ricotta kick these days. Add truffle to the mix, and you’ve got a killer combination of earthy, sweet and a little bit salty. It’s not your average beet salad, with the thin sliced pieces taking a backseat to the well dressed arugula salad and smoked almonds. Truffle oil can easily be misused, but here it’s subtle enough to allow for all of the other flavors to stand out, with the light note of umami flavor lingering on the palate before you take the next bite.
While we were finishing up our salad, the burger and fries arrived. It’s an unfortunately firing mismanagement by the kitchen, crowding our table and leaving our burger to sit for a few minutes while we finished our first course. The waiter didn’t even apologize, actually thinking he did a good job in slightly staggering our courses. They definitely have a little bit of work to do when it comes to sending out dishes in the proper order.
Ironically enough, it ended up working out in our favor. There’s a lot of truffle ricotta, that ended up sitting by its lonely self on the plate when all of the other components are finished. I decided to be a little adventurous and dip the sweet potatoes fries into the truffled mixture.
And woah baby. This was such a good idea, if I do say so myself. If you happen to order these two together, be slightly adventurous and dip the fries into the truffled ricotta. You will be so happy.
Now, let’s talk burgers. After all, this is their namesake dish.
Flavorful, raw tuna is a favorite of mine. The light sear on the top and bottom of the burger adds texture without ruining the integrity of the fish. The Asian flavors are infused throughout the burger, starting with the pungent gingered carrots. It’s a brilliant way of infusing ginger into the dish, without actually overwhelming the palate with the spice from actual pieces. The sweet, toasted potato bun contrasts the strong flavors, acting as a buffer. The addition of crushed avocado, mixed with the wasabi has a creamy texture with the subtle horseradish-esk spice from the wasabi. Sprouts add a little bit of crunch, since the Ahi Tuna Burger, plus the potato bun is a soft on soft. This a delicious, well-rounded tuna burger.
The waiter then insisted that we think about ordering one of their amazing ice cream sandwiches. He was a slightly good sell, causing us to glance at the menu. Turns out the ice cream sandwiches are from The Good Batch, which are a regular stand at Smorgasburg. While this version is absolutely delicious, these are $2 more then the regular stand. We decided to pass.
Overall, I totally get the hype around Umami Burger. The food is great, atmosphere laid back and prices are really reasonable. I intend on coming back with a meat loving friend to try out some of the different burgers on the list (Truffle Burger.. I’m coming for ya).
Is it worth a four hour wait? Probably not. But then again, I think there are very few things worth a four hour wait. So try and check out Umami Burger at an off hour, or when the craze settles down. There are definitely a few new restaurant kinks that need to be worked out as well, which will certainly improve in with time. Be sure to come here, you’ll enjoy this damn good burger, great fries and fabulous other dishes.
Umami Burger – 432 6th Avenue – New York, NY
Location: West Village, NY
Type: American (Traditional)
Perfect For: Impressing Foodies, Sports on TV, Casual Meal, Drinks
Reservations: Not Accepted
Favorite Dishes: Ahi Tuna Burgers, Truffled Beet Salad