As much as I have said before about my love for chain restaurants, it did sound quite unique to pass on (then again my personal beliefs are not rock solid). We were going to go to be in Santa Monica during lunch and luckily (since it was a chain), we found an outlet that was a 5 minute walk from the jetty.
The concept of "umami" has been around for donkey years, first "created" so to speak by the Japanese. If you ever wondered how it taste like or what it resembles, some say try a konbu or dashi broth. If that's not possible, I remember watching Heston Blumenthal on TV talking about how mushrooms and tomatoes are some of the more common ingredients that packs a lot of umami.
If you still have no idea what it is, walk into the busy casual diner and take a deep breathe. That's umami.
It may be a chain but that doesn't mean its dirt cheap. A burger is below average in size yet will set you back almost 12-15 dollars (plus tax and tips). However, once you sink into the juicy patty, the price won't even come to mind. There's a lot of "umami" and almost on the verge of overwhelming in a good way (turns out they sell bottles of "umami" extract that you can spray on your meats). The bread is on the sweet side, brioche like. Before you know it, the burger is gone and you are like, damn should I order another one?
We resisted that thought of course but I remember reading a review that recommends you to have at least 1.5 burgers to be a complete meal. Out of the burgers we had, the Umami and the Truffle, I prefer the Truffle version for words I can't seem to describe (just like how I can't seem to find the correct words to describe umami).
There's a set that you can order which comes with chips and a drink. Now, it doesn't say so on the menu but if I can recommend, ask them for some truffle sauce (they will know what you are talking about). Obviously this is not real truffles we are talking about (well, a minute portion, may be), so this can be terribly over whelming or absolutely lip smacking (depends on which camp you are on when it comes to truffles).
Wash it down with some cold beer and you are set to go back to the Santa Monica Pier (or which ever outlet you are at) and enjoy the sun.
Last I googled, they are even opening up in New York so let's hope in the near future, they will consider Australia!
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Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Made me wish that I bought a bottle of that spray they use on their burgers. Drooling, at the thought of it.