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Thread: Is This the Best Burger in America?

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default Is This the Best Burger in America?

    Is This the Best Burger in America? - Food on Shine



    We don't usually name a Burger of the Year. But the Umami Burger from L.A. ain't no ordinary burger. Alan Richman breaks down the secrets of its addictive taste.

    It's half beef and half beyond belief.

    I arrived in Los Angeles not much taken with umami, at least not the way true believers are. Too much mysticism, not enough science. Nor did I care much for the L.A. burger culture, not like the locals. Too many toppings, not enough meat.

    Then I tasted the Umami Burger, Adam Fleischman's cross-cultural merger of Japanese ingenuity and American know-how. And I thought to myself, This is a man among burger men, worthy of our adulation even if he's always wearing a T-shirt with an Umami Burger logo. (These days, even the greats can't resist self-promotion.)

    Fleischman, the founder of the modest but ever expanding four-shop Umami Burger chain, has rethought every element of the hamburger experience. The bun. The meat. The ketchup. The toppings. Even valet parking. Yes, at the original Umami Burger joint on La Brea, 900 square feet of utter simplicity across the road from a Goodwill store, every burger comes with parking, the ultimate in West Coast customer service.

    Elsewhere in L.A., the burger world is in disarray. So desperate is the situation, so uncertain are the natives, that at least one establishment specializing in burgers is flying in chopped meat from the LaFrieda purveyors in Manhattan. The old L.A. order—In-N-Out Burger, Fatburger, Bob's Big Boy, Tommy's—is in retreat.

    Fleischman's savory umami master sauce puts to shame other "secret sauces," which tend to be orange goo. His organic housemade version of MSG might well carry the DNA for umami (assuming you believe umami exists). His umami-loaded ketchup tastes like a purer, fresher, tinglier clone of Heinz. He defines his discoveries as fulfilling a craving for "that which cannot be explained."

    His face belongs on the Mount Rushmore of the burger world.

    Who is this man? I sat down with him, and he brushed aside his life in a dozen words: Born in New York. Liberal-arts grad. Owned wine bars. Sold them. That's it. (His wife and kids didn't come up until later. She likes her burgers well-done, which doesn't please him. His son calls his father's masterpiece the "mommy burger," which does.) It is as though he lived an inconsequential existence until being reborn as a burger man, fated to do little else, although now he's thinking about an umami pizza chain.

    Umami, heralded by Japanese scientists as the fifth taste (after the basics of sweet, sour, bitter, salty), is voodoo science to me. Others are convinced of its authenticity, based on the alleged discovery of a taste bud for glutamate, the building block of the umami concept.

    Fleischman is credible because he has focused on flavor, not chemistry. He studied umami tastes, most of them having to do with aging or fermentation, and made certain they were sprinkled on, poured into, and piled atop his burgers. I tasted his patty the American way, plain, with nothing on it, and it was pure and wonderful. I tasted it the Asian way, served with toppings, rubs, and sauces, and a different sort of brilliance emerged. It was deeper, more sensuous, both head-spinning and mind-expanding.

    He's also created a Peking-duck burger with hoisin sauce, a crabmeat burger with lemon-miso dressing, and a Stink Burger incorporating anchovies, onions marinated in fish sauce, and ripe Taleggio cheese. It's clear that he has looked into the heart of the burger and seen what others have not.
    Last edited by celeb_2006; February 23rd, 2011 at 08:59 PM.

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Anyone ever had this??
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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    Yes, I've definitely heard of it. All rave reviews.
    FUCK YOU AND GIVE ME MY GODDAMN VENTI TWO PUMP LIGHT WHIP MOCHA YOU COCKSUCKING WHORE BEFORE I PUNCH YOU IN THE MOUTH. I just get unpleasant in my car. - Deej

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    Elite Member Chilly Willy's Avatar
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    I want that Fleischman guy to create a veggie burger for me.
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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    I'll have to see if there is one closer to me...I'll try it for the GR team.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Now I just crave one! This sounds off the charts.
    I usually go for the veggie burger,too.
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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Crabmeat burger with lemon-miso sauce? Oh baby! Send me one FedEx!
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
    Laugh Uncontrollably. And never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile.

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    This is right down the road from me. I haven't had the one pictured but I've had the truffle burger from Umami. It was good, but they drowned it in truffle oil sauce. It was very messy and juicy (not necessarily a bad thing), but sort of cloying and unbalanced even for my gluttonous ass. Evidently there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

    I still wanna go back and try their other burgers.

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    Elite Member Mel1973's Avatar
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    go and eat that Stink Burger for us!
    Kill him.
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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Yeah, the stink burger might have to wait until I've tried all the other ones...

    Actually, it sounds good except for the anchovies. Not a fan.

    Oh btw Chilly and other veggie burger fans, they do have a couple burgers that substitute portobello mushroom cap for the meat. Sounds yummy.

  11. #11
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Okay, I just came back from this place and I am thoroughly underwhelmed. I had the basic umami burger, the one pictured up there, and it was just meh. Definitely undersalted and nothing all that special. It was a nice normal serving size though, about the size of my palm. Sweet potato fries were good, but Mr.B had the onion rings and they sucked. His triple pork burger was good but nothing extraordinary either.

    I prefer 8 oz. Burger and Golden State, both of which I can walk to, too.

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    Elite Member yanna's Avatar
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    I guess if you were expecting an orgasmic experience it would be underwhelming...

    Best burger I have had was GBK Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Do you have that in the US? Seriously amazing burgers!

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    I haven't heard of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, I'll have to look it up. *just googled, I think it's only in the UK...

    I don't even think it was "failure to live up to the hype" disappointment. It really lacked flavor in general, in spite of the roasted tomato slice, that flat cheese disc (couldn't taste it at all), and a tiny spoonful of caramelized onion (could barely taste that either). Plus it was gamey tasting.

    Maybe it was an off night or something but my homemade bison burgers taste better. Even the cloying truffle burger I had before tasted better.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    wow thanks bee!! i wont waste my time

  15. #15
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Eh, I may still try out some of their other burgers, just to be thorough! But I'll definitely go to the Hollywood location because the LaBrea location is closet-sized small and doesn't serve beer. (BOO!)

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