While I don’t normally write reviews on chain restaurants, I decided to do a post about Umami for 2 reasons: first, their locations always seem tailored, making them feel unique and second (and most importantly) because their new offering is too cool not to talk about.
The Shut-Up-and-Give-it-to-Me-Quick Version:
Lots of food, but if you have time to spare and an empty stomach, this is a great way to spend some time with friends or family.
The I-Like-to-be-Wrapped-Up-in-All-the-Details Version:
Umami Hollywood (as well as Umami locations in Wicker Park, Broadway and Williamsburg) is now featuring a 9-course tasting menu. This menu is available with or without beverage pairings (although the real stars are the drinks so I highly recommend including them) and is designed for 4 people. If you want to indulge in this great feast I suggest a couple things:
- If you’re in LA, do it at the Hollywood location – this is the best location I have been to, the area is super cute, there is a great amount of natural light (if you take as many pictures as I do this is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also an occupational necessity) and the service is always great.
- Pace yourself – there is A LOT of food and A LOT of drinks so to really enjoy the experience you need to give yourself enough time between courses and don’t party like it’s 1999 on the first courses because you’ll be hating yourself by the 5th.
- Building off the last point, in order to really enjoy I would definitely come with enough time, I believe we sat there for three hours haha. It didn’t feel that long and it was lots of fun!
What we ate:
- 9-course tasting menu with drinks ($175) ($95 without drinks)
Meant for four people – for additional people there is a fee ($20 per person)
First Course: Cheesy tots, sweet potato fries and tempura onion rings served with real sugar Mountain Dew.I am familiar with the cheesy tots from my prior visits and these are my favorite! I mean, come on, cheesy potatoes… does it get better? The outside is crispy and the inside oozes with cheese. Calorie overload = happy Kristal! The onions were probably my least favorite, they were good, but nothing super special. The coating was nice and light and I liked that they didn’t feel heavy. The real surprise was the sweet potato fries. I am not a huge sweet potato fan (unless it’s in my cheesecake) and you’ll never find me ordering sweet potato fries, but next time I am at Umami I definitely will! These were on the sweeter side and they kind of tasted like churros it makes me feel better than they are just as tasty, but healthier). They are made with sweet salt, but to me it tasted like cinnamon and brown sugar, either way these were great! The Mountain Dew was amazing… I could totally taste the difference. I don’t really drink soda (besides the occasional coke, I’ve just never been a big soda drinker), but this was great. Using real sugar really gave it a different taste and I liked it!
Second Course: Truffle burger served with Great Divide Yeti-Imperial StoutThe truffle burger was great! I strongly prefer white over black truffles because black truffles have a very strong smell and an overpowering taste, however this burger showcased the flavor without being too much. The burger itself was really juicy and cheesy! The beer was too dark for me, look wise I felt like I was drinking soy sauce, but if you like malty type beers this drink is for you!
Third course: Manly burger served with a Maple Bacon Old FashionedThis burger comes with bacon lardons, beer-cheddar fondue, smoked salt, onion strings, umami ketchup and mustard spread. It was perfect to share because I think it’s too heavy to have all to myself. Regardless, it was very good! The patty was just right and the mustard, bacon and onion strings went very well together. This drink was awesome! It’s manly without being overly so. The presentation was really cool… there was an actual thick bacon slice and orange rind inside and it made it feel that much cooler. I am not a huge bourbon or whiskey fan so this drink surprised me – strong, but great.
Fourth Course: Ahi tuna burger served with a Victory Golden MonkeyI was super happy to see the ahi tuna burger when they brought it out because it was a good break from all the beef. The flavor was really nice, I loved the gingered carrots and wasabi tartar, they were also very generous with the avocado. This went well with the Golden Monkey beer which was lighter than the first beer (thankfully).
Fifth Course: Hatch burger served with a Blackberry SwizzleThis is my go-to burger when I dine at Umami, I love the roated garlic aioli, hatch chiles and cheesiness. I think the flavors come together really nicely. This drink was one of my favorites! You have to like bourbon, but it has a nice berry taste with a bit of a lemony flavor. I really enjoyed this and the presentation was great!
Sixth Course: Greenbird served with 2013 Laurenz Gruner VeltlinerThe Greenbird is a turkey burger with avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce and sprouts. I thought it was very good for a turkey burger; flavorful and not dry, but I wouldn’t ever order as my stand alone burger. I really liked this white wine, it was light, but packed a lot of flavor and provided great notes of peach and citrus!
Seventh Course: Cali burger served with Spicy MezcalritaThe Cali burger was a bit much in my opinion, it almost tasted like lamb, this was my least favorite. The drink (pictured in the course above – sorry drinks often came out before the burgers), however, was my favorite! I usually stay away from spicy drinks – there’s something about alcohol and spice that I don’t enjoy, but I found myself loving this drink! The presentation (again) was great! The tequila and pomegranate liquor went together so well and the infusion of cucumber and serrano chile just kicked it up a notch. The Cointreau foam made it fancy and I enjoyed every sip!
Eighth Course: Throwback burger served with a real sugar PepsiThe Throwback burger with white cheddar, miso mustard, Umami ketchup, pickles and minced onions is the closest to a traditional burger. The mustard is pretty strong, but I enjoyed it. This was a tasty burger and paired really nicely with the Pepsi, which just like the Mountain Dew, had a much better taste than usual (since it is made with real sugar).
Ninth Course: Umami burger served with 2013 Seghesio ZinfandelThe last burger was probably my 2nd least favorite, the Parmesan frico looked very nice and I expected a light, very flavorful Parmesan flake (like a snowflake, just better tasting), but it more closely resembled a stale chip that made cutting and biting into the burger difficult. I did, however, enjoy the roasted tomato and the Zinfandel was nice, not too strong and it went well with the burger.
The presentation of both burgers and drinks was great and I think this is an awesome menu to showcase their new alcohol offerings. I had a blast and even though I was in a food coma for hours after… it was all great! The beverage pairings were perfect and I love that Umami is branching out with some amazing drinks. Next time you’re in the area, stop by, I guarantee their alcoholic concoctions will surprise you!