Twice a month, El Estoque goes to restaurants around the area and takes a chance by asking the waiter to suggest food for us to try. This week, we continued the alphabetical theme by going to Umami Burger in Palo Alto.
Address: 452 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Located on Palo Alto’s University Ave., Umami Burger chain of restaurants prides itself in offering burgers and a variety of sides that offer an umami — or savory — flavor profile. It’s their signature burger, the Umami Burger, that propelled the restaurant to fame back in 2009 when they first opened in Los Angeles. Still, there are a wide selection of burgers on the menu for many different tastes and dietary needs.
The restaurant is fairly nondescript and tucked away between a movie theater and Sushiritto. Inside the restaurant does a complete 180° from the outside appearance as there are interesting posters and bookshelves of books scattered throughout the restaurant adding to a fun and more trendy atmosphere. Though on the pricier side, Umami Burger offers a great ambiance and a variety of burgers to suit every taste palette, two of which El Estoque reviewed.
Fries – $4
The fries, which were offered on the menu as a side for the burger were warm and delicious. The unusually thin shape actually works well as they are more crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It should be noted that they are less salted which worked better here for the thinner smaller fries.
Chicken burger – $12
The fried chicken patty was juicy and very obviously made fresh — it was salty and savory but could have been crispier. The flavor of the coleslaw that topped the burger was very strong as there was a lot of it and while it tasted was good it ended up overpowering the chicken at points. Still, the cold crunch of the coleslaw balanced the salty chicken well. The pickles layered at the bottom of the burger were completely hidden by the flavor of the other two. While the special sauce was tangy and matched the chicken well it was also overpowered by the taste of the coleslaw. The complimentary pickles that came on the side had good tangy flavor to them and weren’t too sour to them, but they were not that crunchy and were almost soggy maybe because they were cut so thin.
The complimentary housemade ketchup was not that different from your standard Heinz ketchup in appearance but there was a bit more sweetness and a bit of a salty and sour aftertaste (almost as if there was soy sauce in the ketchup) that put you off from eating more.
Falafel burger – $13 (vegetarian)
The bun was crispy and tasted fresh but the falafel patty was burnt and could use more spices as it was mostly bland. The tzatziki sauce was nice and tangy and matches the hearty tastes from the falafel and the bread, but there wasn’t enough crushed avocado to have more of an impact on the dish. To top off the burger there were some pickled red onions which had a crunchy texture that paired nicely with the softer textures of the falafel. Rating: 6/10
Overall rating: 6/10
Though Umami Burger offers an interesting variety of burgers full of varied ingredients for different palates, however, in looking for a sense of uniqueness some of the classic parts of a good burger (such the ketchup were lost). Overall, Umami Burger was average — if over priced for the taste — with portion sizes that were on the smaller side.