An Open Letter to Umami Burger

Dear Umami Burger,

There are so many things I like about you. Your burgers are tasty and cooked to perfection. With a fluffy bun and delicious toppings. I enjoy the Hatch burger with roasty toasty hatch chiles and gooey cheese. The Manly burger with its yummy fried onion strings, beer cheddar cheese and bacon is irresistible. The Truffle burger is decadent and rich while the SoCal burger seems familiar. And the namesake Umami burger is a must-eat boasting 6 Umami flavors. The French fries are fried multiple times creating a crispy exterior and a soft tender interior. House-made pickles are seasonal and impress me every time.


Why does there even have to be a “but”? I wish there wasn’t one. I wish Umami Burger could deal with people the way it deals with food. Last night my eater-in-crime partner, my husband and I could barely make it through Entourage while we frequently paused the TiVo to discuss what might be for dinner on this fine Sunday night. I wasn’t much in the cooking mood after having gotten up early to attend my first cooking class back in school and I couldn’t help thinking of Umami Burger. I said it out loud. It was over, the words had been spoken and now it was time to race south across town to the 800 block of La Brea to make it to Umami before they closed at 10:00 pm. It was just after 9:00 pm so there was no fear of their doors being closed. Or was there?

We arrived at Umami just after 9:30 pm where we walked in and were stopped at the door by a server. “We’re closed,” he said waving his hand back and forth in front of his neck.

“But your website says you’re open every day until 10:00 pm,” I said.

“The website is wrong,” he said.

“We just drove over here special and we know what we want,” I said cheerfully.

Then another guy outfitted in the signature brown Umami t-shirt came over and gruffly said, “I know you do, but the kitchen is closed.”

“But your website says you’re open until 10:00 pm,” I reiterated.

Then he went on to say something about how they are having a meeting with their web designer and they have to fix that.

We walked out, deflated, hungry and irritated. Another couple was getting out of their car in the parking lot. I told them they were closed. And the other couple was upset too. We felt each other’s pain. No Umami for us.

If this were an isolated incident I might be able to let it go. But (another “but”) it’s just a continuation of the weird service we’ve been hoping would get better the longer they stay open. Umami runs out of stuff. Iced tea, dessert, certain burgers, even fries. The wait staff forgets things. Where’s my special sauce? Where’s my drink? Sometimes this works to your benefit though, we have gotten free fries when we didn’t order them. They were hot so they just gave them to us. Long waits also afflict Umami patrons, even after being seated.  There’s just something about this inattentive dude energy that permeates the place.

I love to eat these burgers. I just want the service to up up up its standards so it can meet the food. I haven’t given up on you yet Umami. Please don’t make me.

Thanks for listening,

Sarah Jo