where’s the Umami?

Normally I wouldn’t even bother with writing up a place I didn’t enjoy, however, I couldn’t pass this one over purely because EVERYONE seems to love it and sadly, I didn’t.

The Umami Burger hype has stretched from Los Angeles down to Orange County and I finally jumped on the burger bandwagon and went to give it a try. The restaurant has taken over Valhalla Table’s space and looks relatively the same. We were the first ones in the restaurant, seated, ordered and waited for our meal to arrive.

As we watched table after table receive food except us, I started to get agitated, and 35 minutes later, we finally got Sweet Potato Fries, a bit over-fried as they were dark and a bit burnt, with a sprinkling of brown sugar on top. Perhaps it was to enhance the already sweet SWEET potatoes but whatever the reason, it took away from its natural flavors. Dislike!

Smashed Potatoes were bland and tasteless and the smidgen of aioli dabbed on the edge of the serving bowl was neither enough to flavor of the potatoes, nor was there enough for the amount of potatoes in the bowl. Dislike!

I wasn’t about to visit Umami without trying their signature burger and the Umami Burger — cooked to medium rare — was smaller than I’d imagined but looked good with a parmesan crisp on top of the patty. What was very unfortunate was the fact that the beef patty was not seasoned and was devoid of any beefiness I’d expect of a patty made with freshly ground meat. The parmesan crisp soon soften and was a soggy mess making the burger an unpalatable disaster. A burger without any redeeming qualities to deserve its name. Dislike!

We hoped the Port Stilton Burger would be more flavorful and while we were hit by overwhelmingly strong blue cheese which overpowered the entire burger, again, the under-seasoned meat disappeared underneath everything else. We could’ve been eating a veggie burger slathered with blue cheese for all I knew and I’ve had veggie burgers with more flavor. Dislike!

At $11 a burger with no sides included, your meal becomes rather pricey after you add a side here and there and a drink which averages around $3 and you are allowed ONE refill. The staff are highly efficient when refilling your drink — when you’re not even done — and at one refill, I’d expect you to bring me a fresh glass instead of filling up a glass that’s only 1/3 left.

After waiting this long for the Umami Burger experience, I was disappointed, especially when the meal came to $40 after tip — definitely not something I’d call bang for your buck. I don’t mind paying good money for something tasty, but when I walk away feeling so unsatisfied, I can’t help but walk away feeling wounded and cheated.

Umami Burger
2981 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: 714-957-8626

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon


  1. Jonathan Hunter says

    I just went a couple days ago and the Manly Burger I got was awesome–juicy and flavorful. Though I do agree that the burgers are on the small side. Their skinny fries are just average and apparently the cheesy tots and truffle fries on the secret menu are supposed to be their best sides. But I didn’t know about them until after I had already eaten.

  2. says

    This location must be the only cursed location in the entire Camp. valhala table even though sounded good in the books, wasnt something that held my interest past 2 visits, and Umami burger seems to follow the same trend. Last weekend I tried the $15 Hamburger that came with generous fries, at Bottega Louie, and it was really good. For that placce, $15 seemed like a bargain.

  3. Pam K. says

    Thanks for the review, Anita. I was wondering if Umami Burger was really that good (given all the hype). Now, based on your review and some other reviews I’ve heard by word of mouth, I have no interest in shelling out that much $ for something sub par. Have you tried Slater’s 50/50? I’ve heard their 50/50 burger and Vampire Dip is to die for. If you do go for dinner, let me know…I’ve been wanting to go!

    • says

      Hi Pam, yes I’ve been to Slaters but a long time ago. I went twice and both times I didn’t enjoy the 50/50 burger. I heard they’ve revised that burger now and they’re able to make it at any temperature you want instead of insisting on cooking it well done. I’m in no rush to go try them anytime soon. Have you been to Mick’s Karma Bar? I love their burgers! They only have 5 on the menu and averages $6 a pop! Go give them a try sometime :)

  4. LT says

    I am not impressed with Umami Burger. The burger is a bit small for the price. The onion rings are too greasy in look and taste. Yes the burger is good, but the flavor of the condiments are too prominent, they hijack the burger flavor. I preferred Burger Lounge.

  5. chorizo says

    i agree for the price it didn’t leave me satisfied at all. as for true beefiness from a fresh ground burger, my money keeps going back to crow burger. they have a better beer selection and i like the option to customize my burger if i am not feeling the signature ones

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