Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Umami Burger

Umami is defined as, "a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products."

Last night we dined at the La Brea Umami Burger in Los Angeles.  Umami Burger serves a plethora of different flavor-themed sandwiches.

For this tasting I was accompanied by my fellow burger-eater, Michael, and an authentic Hamburger, Lisa (see post).  I'll be posting these esteemed individuals' reviews before declaring my own:

Michael -
Always a conservative, I went for the classic Umami burger. A rich, greasy patty topped with a parmesan crisp, roasted tomato, shiitake mushrooms and onion. It definitely lived up to the reputation as a great new burger in town, but I have to say, for all this hype about being "the newly discovered sixth flavor" or whatever Umami is, it just tasted like a good burger with good toppings. Supposedly, the roasted vegetable heightens one's awareness of that umami taste, but even that didn't do much. The homemade ketchup was interesting (in a good way), but the side dishes (both the fries and the "tempura" onion rings) were inexcusably bland. 

Lisa the "Hamburger" - 
The hamburger that spoke to me on the menu was the "Hatch Burger." It 
was prepared medium rare (as all burgers should be), with cheese and 
four different types of chiles. All the flavors were right on point, 
I just wish it would have been a little spicy. Otherwise there were 
no complaints about this burger. It was definitely my favorite among 
to the Umami, Truffle, and Casablanca burgers. As for the fries and 
onion rings, I'm going to have to disagree with MIchael. Because the 
burgers already have so much going on, I don't think the fries and 
onion rings need much seasoning.


Umami Burger (pictured above)

We ordered four burgers total and ended up splitting all of them, taking short breaks in between each bite.  

I'll be reviewing these burgers individually instead of placing a blanket rating on the entire establishment.

Umami Burger: A smooth texture and refreshing flavor makes this burger a good place to start (if trying more than one variation).  The grilled onions, fried Parmesan cheese, grilled shiitake mushrooms and an oven dried tomato may make this burger the "standard" at Umami, but it stands out when comparing the sandwich to the rest of the burger world.
  • The Burger Eater's Rating: 8
Hatch Burger: This one is great. It offers just the right amount of spicy (cooked with 4 different types of green chilies). As with all the burgers at Umami, the quality of ingredients is superb.

  • The Burger Eater's Rating: 9.5
Casablanca Burger: Ingredients include a lamb patty, pickled apricots, and pomegranate aioli. The taste of the lamb was a nice change, but not what you're looking for to fulfill serious burger cravings.

  • The Burger Eater's Rating: 7 (more points were granted for variation of ingredients)
Truffle Burger: The Italian truffle cheese and truffle glaze set this one apart. I'm a big fan of almost anything truffle, so I was excited for this one.  I was a bit disappointed that the truffle flavor didn't stand out as much as I expected.  Nonetheless, the burger was tasty and the texture was great.

  • The Burger Eater's Rating: 8 

Here are some images of the burgers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Johnny Rockets

Johnny Rockets is a franchised burger joint located in about 25 states (on a good day).  During my last visit there I had a Rocket Double.

Let's start with presentation: Eh. You're not expecting much since you're either taking this puppy to go or eating it at the faux-fifties counter. On the other hand, for 10 bucks you might expect it to be a little more neatly put together. The thing is greasy and accoutrement hang out from all angles. 

Taste: Good. The meat has a unique taste but I think a lot more flavor would be had if it were charbroiled.

Quality: Nothing special. For 10 bucks it's probably lacking here. I don't see more quality in this sandwich than in a, say, In n' Out burger (at 3 or 4 dollars).

 Variation of ingredients: Standard ingredients. Nothing sets the Double Rocket apart from others.

Burger Eater's Rating: 4

Save your money. At 10 bucks you'd be better off satisfying your burger cravings with a high-quality, less greasy burger.

Nutritional Info

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Father's Office

Aside from a great atmosphere and a powerful offering of So Cal micro-brews, Father's Office (Los Angeles) serves one of the best burgers in LA.  The fellow burger eaters and I made our way down there last night after a grueling close to the Dodgers' baseball season.  We made our way to the bar (there's no table service) to place our order.

The Burger:

The Office Burger (Dry Aged Beef) caramelized onion, applewood bacon compote, gruyere, matag blue cheese and arugula. The burger is offered with a side of fries (skinny), which I ordered.

The Office Burger is brought to your first-come-first-serve table (if you can find one).  The use of a French roll can throw you off, but don't let it. It's soft and chewy just like it should be.  Sometimes French rolls get crunchy and can actually scrape the roof of your mouth... this simply isn't the case here.

Taste: great flavors in the tender, medium cooked meat. The real flavor comes from their caramelized onion and bacon sauce. The arugula is nice and doesn't take away from the soft texture of the sandwich nor does it distract you from the subtle flavors in the cheese and meat.

*A fellow burger eater recommended dipping this one into the white sauce that comes with the fries.

Quality: Excellent... no compromises.

Presentation: Nothing special. If you're sitting outside they'll bring the burger to you in a basket packed with fries.

Creativity/Variation of Ingredients: I think this is where The Office Burger really shines.  It's not a standard burger. It's a special treat that should only be enjoyed on special occasions (like the end of a great Dodgers season).  The sauce and cheese make The Office Burger a unique choice.

The Burger Eater's Rating: 9

Expect to pay: $10-15 (depends on how many of the micro-brews you want to try)


French Roll
Ground Sirloin
Bleu Cheese
Applewood Smoked Bacon
Grilled Onions (plain)

Nutrition Facts:

Amount per Serving

Calories 859
Calories from Fat 386

% Daily Value *
Total Fat 40.18g
    Saturated Fat  12.25g
    Monounsaturated Fat  3.5g
    Polyunsaturated Fat  1.5g
Cholesterol 250mg
Sodium 558.3mg
Total Carbohydrate 32.78g
    Dietary Fiber  1.51g
    Sugars  3g
Protein 77.33g

Vitamin A
Vitamin C

Est. Percent of Calories from:

Fat 42.1%     Carbs 15.3%
Protein 36.0%


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The First Victim

Tomorrow we'll be rating one of my personal favorites, the Father's Office burger.  I've had the pleasure of enjoying this one once before - it's a gourmet-type sandwich with all sorts of fancy ingredients (but no fancy ketchup).  There is one catch to the Father's Office burger: it can't be altered or ordered in any customizable fashion.  Besides, who would be ruthless enough to change something so perfect?

Father's Office Rules:
  • You must be at least 21 years of age with a valid identification to enter Father's Office.  
  • We do not accept reservations.  For private party information, contact us at or call 310 899 6040 
  • We do not provide table service.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Doughnut Burger

This video brings to light a typical doughnut burger.  I've never had one myself, but I'd like to get your thoughts on how this may change burger eating for the rest of us.

Hamburgers - A History

I think it's important for us to understand the root of our burger desires.  The hamburger originated from... no... not Europe, but Mongolia. The Khan armies of the 13th Century had few options in terms of the foods they were able to eat during their conquests. Ultimately, it became a matter of necessity for the Mongolians (or as the City Wok owner in South Park would say, "Mongorrrrians") to prepare mobile meals. This lead to a minced meat patty creation that the Mongolians would place between their saddle and their horse. The meat was flattened and consumed raw at the Mongolians' leisure.

Eventually the Mongolian army made its way to Russia where they adapted the concept into a steak tartar (pictured below).

Today's concept of a hamburger didn't develop until the early 19th century. As you probably guessed, our most favorite food gets its name from the city of Hamburg, Germany. I wonder if I could get away with calling someone from Hamburg a hamburger... That would be sweet.

The hamburger of today was served to immigrants at Ellis Island. It was quick, cheap, and provided the travelers with critical nutrients and protein.

An Introduction

This blog is dedicated to all of you burger eaters out there who are looking for reviews, ratings, and official taste tests. There are a few rules we need to establish before moving forward - after all, it is a small circle of refined gentle-people that can truly appreciate a fine meat sandwich, and our rights need to be protected. This brings me to my first rule:

#1 - Veggie Burgers - NO! This is not the forum for veggie burgers. A hamburger, as defined by Princeton, is, "a sandwich consisting of a fried cake of minced beef(...)"

#2 - Fast Food - fast food burgers fall under a special category during our ratings and reviews. It's not everyday that we have the luxury of dining at a sit-down burger joint. Due to the realities and practicalities of life we must entertain the option of drive-thrus and the like.

#3 - Try new things - there's no such thing as "too much", "too little", "ew". Open your heart and try a new combination of ingredients.

#4 - You are what you eat - Quality is key here. We'll be basing much of our scaling system (1 to 10) on the meat and general ingredient quality.

We hope you enjoy!

*We reserve the right to alter these rules without any previous notification to you or other blog subscribers.