5-Who? In-N-Where? Shake What?
Umami Burger is the latest national food chain to hit the Bay Area. Originating from the Southern California area of La Brea, Umami soon expanded throughout SoCal and eventually up to SF. Palo Alto is the first location on the Peninsula.
Umami is named for the Japanese word for the fifth taste sensation (alongside salty, sweet, bitter, sour) and is oftentimes referred to as savory. L-glutamate receptors are responsible for umami, and food such as fish sauce and dashi are considered rich in umami. Interestingly, MSG or monosodium glutamate is a man-made product that enhances umami as well.
Any way, back to Umami Burger. The location on University is located adjacent to the old Borders store. The interior is a casual design meant to look like a library. Hours are great, open continuously most days 11am-10pm and til 11pm on Fri/Sat.
The premise of the chain is all about flavor and using high quality ingredients to achieve that. The founder has a background in wine and thus high quality beef, truffle flavors, and great cheese are spread throughout the menu. Our order:
Truffle Burger - ordered medium rare and with a great parmesan cheese with lots of truffle flavor. Smaller size than you'd expect but plenty of calories. Love the U grilled to the top of the bun.
All Nighter - a Palo Alto location exclusive with maple glazed bacon, cheese tots, and red gravy. It's an impressive looking burger and while all the ingredients are great, especially the bacon, it's a bit too many items. I didn't like potato in my burger and the gravy didn't add much. Ordered the patty medium rare and it was a touch overcooked and crumbled much easier than the truffle burger. Pricey too at $15.
Cheese Tater Tots - a secret menu item and very large sized. Crispy, filled with a bit of cheese and delicious. We didn't get any side dipping sauce so you might have to ask. Kids will love this.
Truffle 'Me Fries - I love truffle fries and these were no different. Thin, string like fries, but topped with a great cheese and full of truffle aroma and flavor. Great for dipping with ketchup. (or the trio sauces if I remember to ask next time)
Umami Burger is the newest hot burger chain to reach the Peninsula and it's worth checking out.