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Los Angeles: Umami Burger

The first time I went to Umami Burger it was six weeks old, which is irritating because that meant I had lost five weeks and six days of eating at L.A.’s newest best hamburger joint. The complicated flavors in the titular Umami burger, a weighty round of freshly ground flap meat, juicy grilled mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, and a crispy parmesan tuile, are impressive. But it doesn’t floor me with that why-didn’t-I-meet-you-sooner? longing the way the delectably smoky Triple Pork burger, made of ground pork, chorizo, bacon, and aged Manchego, does. I am now equally attached to the Mideast burger, a Sonoma lamb patty with harissa-honey sauce and shallots cooked in red wine, and the just-spicy-enough Hatch burger topped with four types of chopped green chiles. The owner, Adam Fleischman, has instructed his employees to be coy about the harder-to-identify ingredients he uses to achieve the flavor-enriching fifth taste in his food known as umami. “It’s secret,” our server kept repeating. But the appeal of hand-cut, triple-cooked fries and malt liquor–tempura onion rings served with homemade ketchup and roasted garlic aïoli is deliciously obvious.

Umami Burger 850 S. La Brea, Los Angeles (323-931-3000; umamiburger.com)



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