Fine Dining - Umami Burger's Rise & Fall & Slight Re-Rise (Septemburger #1 Seed)

Episode Date: September 20, 2023

Septemburger's #1 seed, Umami Burger is up to bat! Michael has an axe to grind after the best burger in Los Angeles changed up their recipe a few years back Garrett outlines the rise and fall of Uma...mi Burger in Resty Fact Round-Up, and why they have a shot at regaining respect once again Septemburger will pit Umami against Johnny Rockets next week What's Going On with Umami feeling like it's still going through the pandemic? The service staff definitely noticed they were being reviewed and changed their effort level drastically JUB's opening a day care! A bunch of people share Michael's disappointment in the recipe change in this week's Yelp from Strangers Michael opts to join Garrett for next week's You-Must Bowl punishment in solidarity Music by: James McEnelly (@Ramshackle_Music) Theme Song by: Kyle Schieffer (@JazzyJellyfish) We're on Patreon! Get an extra episode every month (August's episode: Burger King), extended Yelp from Strangers segments every other week, merch discounts, download access to our music including the 7 singles from our Olive Garden musical, and more! Patreon Producers: Sean Spademan, Joyce Van, & Sue Ornelas   Get our 5 Survival Tips for Casual Dining at!   Send us your Umami Burger stories at   Follow us on TikTok and Instagram @finediningpodcast   Let us know where we should go next by leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, PodcastAddict, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. We read every one!   Next time on Fine Dining: Johnny Rockets! Septemburger's winding down with the #8 seed. Can they pull off an upset against Umami Burger? Find out next week! Ever work at a Johnny Rockets? Send your stories to   Totally Not Sponsored By: JUB

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 Hello and welcome back to Sep 10 burger for the fine dining podcast the search for the most mediocre restaurant in America I am your host Michael Lauren Ellis and I am your host Garrett's work and I am made of beef Yeah, I think yesterday you were saying you're what meat and sauce that was yes I am made of meat and sauce like I'm pretty tasty you have become burger I mean, I am burger. We are seven restaurants into September at this point. We've just got one to go.
Starting point is 00:00:30 Yeah, we are burger. We are burger boys. But this week marks something special. Today was the number one seed, the top dog. Now as we've explained in the past, our seeding system forgar is based on how good was the best burger that we have had at these places. We are relying on reputation and memories.
Starting point is 00:00:54 Past experience, yeah. And with this place in particular, it kind of created, I guess, an interesting conundrum because umami burger, for a while while was my pick for the best burger that I'd had in LA. And when I heard that it expanded to other states and other countries, I was like, we can do them for the podcast safely. They are a chain beyond locality.
Starting point is 00:01:17 And I was excited. You were very excited. But then, I was angry. Yeah, just get into it. All right, I had a bit of a fury last time. I went to Umami Burger, just a big ol' slam the burger down on the table. They changed, and you've done some digging into the background for
Starting point is 00:01:37 Resty Factor Roundup that we'll get into. But this was not the same Umami Burger that earned it the number one seed by being the best burger that we had had in this bracket. No, not at all. This is definitely a different burger than old Umami of legend. They did. And our multiple iterations passed the legendary burger.
Starting point is 00:01:56 Yeah, yeah. Maybe the version that angered me is no longer the version that's there. It's still not what it was, but it was still pretty good. It was, but I was able to walk into this with a clear head, so we could fully rate this based on the atmosphere, the service and the food. That's what we're doing. The food we had, not this imaginary food
Starting point is 00:02:16 that should have been. Right. And to further your point there, what do we do? Well, for September, we're trying to do a battle, a clash of eight different burger joints to figure out Which one's the best, but we're not usually best boys. No, we're middle boys. We're looking for the middleingist of the middits Yeah, middits me how do we say this the middleingist of the middits? We're looking for the most mediocre restaurant in America Like this is our comfort zone. This is where we live in our lives. We're used to this. We've always been mediocre.
Starting point is 00:02:46 But we appreciate good. Yeah, we love good. I think we're qualified to say, you know what? We think this tastes good, because it's our own opinion. Find dining party of doom. But restaurant wise, we're still trying to find you the most mediocre restaurant in America. We'll get into it more, but for now,
Starting point is 00:03:03 our table is ready. Let's go. Your table is ready, follow me. Happy try to chicken breast, servant pancakes and ribs. I recommend this spaghetti. We're here to serve us fine, not to impress. Your table is ready, complimentary butter and bread. These walls are both signs.
Starting point is 00:03:22 Make that cowboy hat, for the cat. Autograph guitar, some crap from your city Behold the trusty of me, be up ready I'm dining Yes, I'm dining I'm dining Two letters on the sign are shining Now I'm flickering irregular timing
Starting point is 00:03:40 I identify the perfect vibe How the ten I'm dining. I'm dining. I'm dining. First impressions. So the first impression obviously is we had to make quite a drive. I was used to Umami Burger being in every city like sub city in LA. Yeah, Burbank had one studio city had one Sherman Oaks had one for a while the Hollywood one. I've been to a ton of times None of those exist anymore. Well, we had to drive all the way down to Irvine Which is I don't know took us what 80 minutes or something like that
Starting point is 00:04:22 It was a little over an hour, not close, not fun to drive to a place that used to be everywhere near you, and then because of their overhaul, they just started dropping like flies. So we make this drive, and we end up at the Spectrum Center in Irvine, which is, I guess, a big shopping center with a bunch of restaurants. And boy, was this casual dining mecca. This place was just, there's a wood ranch, there's a C.P.K., there's a P.F. Changs, and they're nice.
Starting point is 00:04:52 Yeah, no, it's okay, this is the place you go when your family comes to visit you at UCI, this is where you take them out to dinner. When you're trying to impress them, like look, I live in a nice area. Yeah, I've made it. Yeah, there's a big touchscreen directory that's all futuristic, that's like tap here
Starting point is 00:05:10 and it has a revolving map that shows you where you wanna go. It's literally revolving. This thing was like rotating, which is just not the way a directory should work. Like, I know that the earth is spinning and that we're hurling through space and spinning around the sun. So constant motion is a thing that we're always doing. But when you're looking for directions,
Starting point is 00:05:33 a static point of reference is kind of the number one rule. So you just walked past it because you're like, that's not going to be helpful. And you just start walking. And I found the place. You found it immediately. Meanwhile, I'm sitting there 20, 30, 40 feet behind you as you're walking away. And I'm like, oh, I found it. Garrett, it's this way. And I look up and you're just gone. And then I look around the corner and there you are walking right towards it. I was like, oh, I should have just walked right past this sign. And I should have just walked right past this sign and I would have seen the sign for Umami. And we see Umami Improv. The Improv is a famous comedy club and the Umami is basically attached to it.
Starting point is 00:06:13 It's still very much its own thing, but even the receipt that we got at the end set improv on it, the staff had Improv shirts on. So I don't really, we asked, but I didn't feel like we got a good explanation what that tie in is, but there is one explanation was, as sometimes you can go to the improv and get him, Mommy. The number one thing that I noticed, you went right to the bathroom. I had to pee. We drove to Irvine. Yeah, we had a long drive. You were brave. You held
Starting point is 00:06:42 your blood. You guys don't know this, but just Garrett always has to pee. If you ever see Garrett, just assume he's looking for a bathroom. My bladder's like the size of a pee. Yeah, and full of it. So you go to the restroom, I'm just standing at the please wait to be seated counter, and you come back, and I'm still waiting at the please wait to be seated counter, and then a couple minutes pass, no one works here. It looks like there's nobody.
Starting point is 00:07:09 I see a person inside tending bar and that's it. Two tables of customers, the entire place when we arrive. And I'm getting, well again, this podcast has restructured my brain to where the things that would, I guess, piss someone off. They amuse me now, because I'm like, this is just a silly thing to have to go through. Yeah, you're just sitting there waiting.
Starting point is 00:07:33 You're not gonna go look for someone. No, you're gonna see how long it takes them to notice you. Which is, you know, I guess, narcissistic on my behalf. Notice me. I was just like, no, I just wanna to see how long it takes, I guess. And it kind of takes a lot of minutes. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:07:50 And there were only two people working, I feel like. Yeah. And one of them was like back of how staff, the other one was like the only front of house person. So they were the host, the bartender, the server. She had her hustle on decently enough. So we got seated, got to take in the atmosphere a bit, but before we do that, let's go into that background.
Starting point is 00:08:07 Let's hear more about all the changes and the evolution of Umami Burger as we go into this week's Resty Facts Roundup. Yee-ha! Garrett, did you round up some Resty Facts for us? I made some circles in the air like the good boy that I am. I don't think you know what a Roundup is. It's a cowboy thing.
Starting point is 00:08:26 And obviously, we don't want you to whip them up. My mom is sensitive to the whip noise that we hear. She doesn't like the sound. It's too abrasive. So I've got a different sound that we're gonna put in place of the whip that we used to round up the resty fax carrot. The deep sigh of disappointment as Umami changes their burgers. Ugh. Umami burger was founded here in Los Angeles in 2009 by aspiring screenwriter, turned restaurant to her, Adam Fleischman around the Umami flavor profile,
Starting point is 00:09:00 which is like a savory. Yes. Umami is, I don't know, I think of it, it's the savory pucker that you get in the back of your mouth. I feel like if something in the back of your mouth is puckering, you should go to a hospital. No, it just, that sounds like your uveal is given out on you. Sprinkle some MSG on your fries. You'll get it. Okay.
Starting point is 00:09:19 Hey everyone, sprinkle some MSG on your fries before you eat them. You'll get the pucker. It's great. Uhhhhhh. I miss Gian your fries before you eat them. You'll get the pucker, it's great. Ugh. He spent a hyper focused month in the kitchen experimenting with miso, seaweed, fish sauce, and other foods that had umami properties. Mm-hmm. So he's just like drying things out, throwing them in a blender,
Starting point is 00:09:37 putting them up, mixing it into burgers, until he finally crafted something he liked. And the thing he liked ended up being fantastic. Yes. Ugh. So just two years later, there were five locations around town. Yeah. I had like a regular trip to Umami,
Starting point is 00:09:54 probably monthly starting in maybe 2013. This growth continued until a peak of about 25 locations in 2017. Yep. That's what I remember. They were everywhere. They were, like, so great. They were locations in 2017. Yep, that's what I remember. They were everywhere. They were great. They were here in LA, they were down in the OC, they were up in the Bay Area, New York,
Starting point is 00:10:13 Chicago, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Miami, Mexico, the Bahamas, Paris, these places were everywhere. Yeah. Ah. They partner with celebrities and celebrity chefs to make their own burgers. I have seen that actually. God, I forget who they partnered with, but I know I went a couple of times and they had little cross-over burgers. Because some people I found there's Mindy Kaleen, Cindy Crawford, Andy Sandberg, Bon Jovi's kid, Jaden Smith, Bon Jovi's kid. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:10:44 They also have celebrity chefs come into. So Alton Brown did a burger, Joseon Dresd did a burger. Alton Brown's the one that I went and had. It was good. Okay. Yeah. The breakfast burger in Daniel Boulade. I don't know. French. I'm bad with pronunciation, but he's a Michelin star French chef. Okay. At the end of 2016, Fleshman decides to sell most of his shares of Umami to his already partner in the business, SPE Entertainment Group slash C3. I thought you were gonna say like a person
Starting point is 00:11:14 and this is gonna be like a nice in the family sort of relationship, but nope, it's a corporation. This corporation has been around since almost the beginning too. So he's already, he's been working with these guys. So there's a narrative going around of it's new ownership's fault. It's not new ownership's fault. Ownership's always been the same.
Starting point is 00:11:34 Yeah. So when he sells it the end of 2016, this is the near peak of business identity and quality. They had thick juicy burgers. They were a place where literally any friend that came into town, I gotta take you to Umami. I took my friend Aaron to Umami once and that was the first time I had seen somebody enter Flavirvana in person. I know you enter Flavirvana all the time, but yeah, his eyes rolled back into his head
Starting point is 00:12:01 and he was like, I think that's the best burger I've ever had. It's great. And it was so good. That's all they were doing at that time. They wanted the best possible ingredients to make the best possible burger and they did. Yeah, but I did some research. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:12:18 I tracked their downfall a little bit and their multiple menu changes. Hit me. Ah. The week of June 21st, 2020, the old thick boys are replaced by thinner double patties. RIP thick boys. Yeah. I blame this as pure pandemic skimping. April 8th, 2021, the old-style patties return.
Starting point is 00:12:45 Or at least it looks like the old-style patties return. Oh, they went back. Yeah, on their website and their menus on their website, the picture again showed the old glorious burger. This suspiciously coincides with the ownership groups food delivery app launch. This delivery app is based around ghost kitchens. So they cram most of their restaurant properties into these around ghost kitchens. So they cram most of their restaurant properties
Starting point is 00:13:06 into these various ghost kitchens. Now for listeners who don't know, can you explain what a ghost kitchen is? A ghost kitchen is not like the old spaghetti factory, right? It's just a kitchen space that's only back of house. So all it is is a kitchen. It's not a restaurant you go to. You can't dine in.
Starting point is 00:13:24 A lot of them you can't even take out. A lot of them are delivery only. Okay, so they deliver you the Umami product, yes. But it's prepared not necessarily in an Umami burger location. It's prepared out of an existing restaurant, is that the case? So the other closest one on the website, Escondito. Yeah. That's actually a black Angus, which, yeah, Escondito
Starting point is 00:13:45 is kind of down by San Diego and I was like, do we have to drive just, luckily I found the one in Irvine and I called to be like, do you exist? And they were like, what? Yeah, of course. I was like, don't say, of course, it's not a given. So I looked on their website and every single Umami
Starting point is 00:14:01 burger location they have literally on the website is a ghost kitchen. Really? Every single Umami burger location, they have literally on the website is a ghost kitchen. Really? Every single one. Oh. Speaking of these ghost kitchens, though, I Google mapped all of them, and I found out what they actually were. So here we go.
Starting point is 00:14:16 Some locations are shitty strip mall, shitty commercial complex shared with a government department. What? Like a DMV or something, something like that. Wait, so you're saying that in the back of a DMV they're making new mommy burgers? Pretty much. It's not a literal DMV, but it's like that.
Starting point is 00:14:33 Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Can you imagine going to the DMV being tormented with the smell of delicious burgers the whole time? And no place to identify where it's coming from would be hell. That's actual like taunting the people already in hell at the DMV.
Starting point is 00:14:51 It gets weirder. I found a creepy formerly used industrial park. It looked like straight out of a horror movie. Great. In another weird one, just a parking lot. Are these fronts like, I don't fucking, are they not actually there? I don't know. It was a park literally. Just a parking lot. Are these fronts like I don't fucking are they not actually there? I don't know it was like it was a park literally just a parking lot. There are only three full service locations remaining. So there's the one in Tokyo one in Paris
Starting point is 00:15:17 and the one we went to. Yes, that's it. And the one we went to think, may only be clinging to survival because of that relationship with the improv. Uhhhhhh. I'm offended that this once amazing gourmet burger only gets to you now by some random dude that rolls up to your house in his old jetta filled with smoke and walks up to your door and hands you a soggy bag. Talking about door to ash here. Yeah. Maybe it's a pet peeve of mine, but I hate it when I get food delivered or any packages if it smells like cigarette smoke.
Starting point is 00:15:50 I like how you're making the sweeping statement that every single delivery driver is a smoker. There are so many delivery drivers that just like they smoke in their car. Like I'm not eating their car. They're not saying you're wrong. They're saying, but you're saying it as a given. There's nothing wrong with these activities.
Starting point is 00:16:07 Do your things. I don't want my food to smell like your thing. I smell like your thing. I got off topic. I'm ranting to my balls on your food. Every single meal, Garrett. He'll all your food smells like my thing. That is true, mommy.
Starting point is 00:16:21 Oh God. I think this is their revival. You think so? That is true, mommy. Oh God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. I think this is their revival. You think so? Yes, because at the end of 2021, they realized, crap, our product is not what it was. No. And I want to say it was 2021 when I went to the grove
Starting point is 00:16:41 and got angry. Okay. It was a fast food burger. It was like microwave bacon. They used to have a burger called the Manly Burger. And it was those old buns and those buns were like the king. They were the best buns.
Starting point is 00:16:57 It was like a umami ketchup spread, a mustard, crispy onion strings, and bacon lardons. And the lardons were basically cubed cuts of bacon instead of strips. And it was the best I have ever had bacon on a burger in my life. It was so texturally pleasing and perfectly done. And that time I went to the grove a few years back,
Starting point is 00:17:20 it was like microwave pre-packaged bacon. It was so, I couldn't finish it. I was so upset. The Paris location actually serves the Manly Burger still. Duh, okay, it's the thick patty. It looks the same, except it's regular strips of bacon. Ah, all right, RIP Manly Burger. Ah, at the end of 2021, Egg Slut Mastermind and host of YouTube's burger series,
Starting point is 00:17:53 Alvin Kylon was named head chef. Okay. This guy knows his burgers. Also, egg slut. Yeah, the best name for a restaurant ever, egg slut. Yeah, egg slut is what brought this chef to fame. So like, they're good. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:18:06 Chef Kailan knows the stuff. He talks about burgers all day and judging by what we had. It's a solid entry. They've thrown their hat into the field. I do have opinions on it. I don't think it's a perfect burger. I think they're a solidly good burger. It's definitely different, but it's very clear.
Starting point is 00:18:24 A choice was made. Yeah. And it's very clear a choice was made Yeah, and it's better than what it was two years ago chef Kailan is saving this location. All right Well, I guess we can talk about the atmosphere. Thanks for listening to this week's resty facts round up There was a lot of space a lot of open space in this atmosphere. It was sparse tables. They had a really cool like guitar sculpture. It's really, how would you describe it? It was like this big art installation that had a gigantic artistic looking guitar, sheet
Starting point is 00:19:03 music in between. Actual sheet music, different popular songs and stuff like that. It looked like a paper mache sheet music thing thrown out of the wall, the guitar was almost, it looked real. Well, it was huge. I mean, it obviously wasn't real. I want to specify, this was very clearly a lot of real.
Starting point is 00:19:19 It looked real. But yeah, it was presented realistically. They had old discarded, like those green glass water bottles. Yeah. Even chandelier form hanging from the ceiling. It looked really neat. I liked the art style on the walls. Yeah, graffiti on the walls.
Starting point is 00:19:38 High ceilings, lots of wood and concrete. This is metal piping, like intricate, almost like Windows screensaver-esque pipe. It's almost like the set designer from Rent made this place. Yeah, yeah, I felt that a little bit. It was a cool little vibe. There was also a lot of hand sanitizing going on. Okay, and all right, I actually want to talk about that
Starting point is 00:20:01 because it's not like they just had a few of the same hand sanitizing station. It was like every time you saw a thing, it was like reminding you in a different way. Like they were just very passionate about it. There was like a hand pump at the host desk. There was a Purell just stand in the middle
Starting point is 00:20:24 of all the restaurant that just said healthy hands start here. There was a sign outside the bathroom that was keeping each other safe. Teamwork makes the dream work. What we're providing, and it had like social distancing, frequent hand washing, what we ask of you, where a mask of each other's face. There were signs, masks optional for vaccinated
Starting point is 00:20:45 persons. Now, like, here's the thing. I get all of this. It makes a lot of sense two years ago. But it's weird. This was in orange county. That's the thing. Orange County never cared about masks. Orange County was so just as a whole against that kind of thing, that culture, I guess, the pandemic protocol, a bitance, like I don't know, how would you even refer to it? But I don't know. It's weird seeing it in 2023. It was so commonplace in 2021, even 2022,
Starting point is 00:21:21 but I feel like we've kind of moved back to just the normal things. Tables are now closer together at restaurants. Yeah. You're either wide open, they're reminding you to wash your hands in like eight different places in eight different ways. It's still a touchless scan menu on the table. It's all these things.
Starting point is 00:21:40 And while I'm not knocking it, I am questioning what's going on over there. What's going on over there? What's going on over there? Should I wear a shirt again? What is going on over there? Michael, what's going on over there? This is gonna be a bit of a leap. But I think somehow, umami burger got their hands on a time machine and it got their hands
Starting point is 00:22:04 dirty. So they burger got their hands on a time machine, and it got their hands dirty. So they purled their hands, and when they went back to touch the time machine, it impacted what year they were jumping to. They were aiming for their glory days of 2016, when they were at the height of their ingredients and their reputation and all that, but the hand sanitizer told a different story,
Starting point is 00:22:23 and the machine was like, you're going to 2021, the year of Purl. Yeah. And they were like, no. I think we needed to give them more time to calibrate the time machine to get the actual old burger. That would have been ideal. But unfortunately, I do not think that that was what was going on over there. So yeah, other than this place being just the cleanest restaurant I may have ever been to,
Starting point is 00:22:52 I did notice that they're stealing their Wi-Fi from the improv. That may be a laugh, where it's just so admitting like, hey, we're only here because we're kind of leaching off of something else, Which shouldn't need to be the case. I mean, umami is a good burger place worthy of longevity. It was. Yeah. There was a lady who came to eat a burger almost just as an excuse to charge her phone. I saw that. She's just sitting at a table kind of behind you and her phone was charging and it just seemed like, well, I guess I'm here. I may as well get a burger and I have never just watched someone eat less into it.
Starting point is 00:23:32 Like, it wasn't even that she wasn't enjoying it. It was just the burger never left her hand. It was just in like a skew sort of grip. I don't really care about this. What's my phone battery at? It tickled me. She did look like your average disinterested OC mom. Yeah. Speaking of moms, kids, there was only one of them, but this one kid made him feel like they were 10 of them. He really did. He was in the far corner and I was like, do you hear that noise? And you just almost unflinchingly went,
Starting point is 00:24:07 it's a kid. And I'm like, oh. Because I had already noticed, I was impressed by two things this kid was doing, one, the volume and two, the amount of distance he covered. Oh yeah, this kid sped through the restaurant. He had a lightning McQueen shirt on. So I think that probably gave him all the speed that he could muster.
Starting point is 00:24:27 He was just like, oh shit, I'm lightning McQueen and just making loud noises. His parents seem resigned. Just like, well, we're not going to be able to fix this. And luckily, there's so much open space that it's not ruining too many people's meals. But there was like no one there. It was hardly disruptive. Yeah. It was more funny.
Starting point is 00:24:48 It startled me. I thought someone was having like mental distress. I was like, what is that sound? It didn't sound childlike to me, but yeah, he didn't have his stuff together. I just wish that there was like someone there to actually watch this kid. And now a word from Mark totally not made up sponsor. Oh hi there, it's your favorite sponsor job. Do you have a kid?
Starting point is 00:25:16 And you need someone to watch him. Try jobs daycare. I'm so worn out, but somebody hires me and it's my job to make sure that he doesn't run out of this umami burger into the street. And that's where he thinks he's supposed to be. He's decked out in merch from Cars 2. This kid's bumper high and he's be lining it for literally every car that thinks they're being cool by showing off how loud their engine revs.
Starting point is 00:25:42 That's a whole other thing. Stop doing that. You're making the streets dangerous for this little tyke who's just wobbling around. Doesn't even consider his mortality. So if you need someone to chase down your young one, take him by the hand, make sure he doesn't get plowed over by an incoming traffic at one of those weird five-way
Starting point is 00:26:01 intersections while also teaching him about the fleeting nature of life itself and the fact that it can end it any moment I'm your guy so give me a call not on a phone because I don't have one just do that thing where you make your exhaust a literal black cloud and I'll come scold you for exposing your kids to that as well you're genuinely killing the planet. I gotta go. Okay, bye Thumbs Garrett we gotta give this thing a score It was very clean and I think the cleanliness Carries it further than I guess I would normally expect I'm gonna go a pretty strong one thumb up on the atmosphere
Starting point is 00:26:44 For umami and I think that's largely just due to how clean and sleek everything looked. To be fair, there weren't a ton of people there. So they definitely had the time to make sure everything was spotless. And it seemed like they used that time to do so. If this really was the 2021 version of the restaurant, this would be a two thumb up atmosphere for me. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:27:02 They have the social distancing practices, tables are spaced, it looks like a pandemic restaurant. And you get like your own bubble of privacy to just enjoy your party. They did a really good job at like leaning into restrictions. Yeah. But it's 2023, and I want to hear other people's conversations as a submit. I want the tables closer together.
Starting point is 00:27:23 I want things to be just like they used to be. So when I... You and I, one thumb up. You and I love our eavesdropping. So yeah. The fact that they took that away from us, one thumb up. Yeah. Mm.
Starting point is 00:27:37 Surface. All right, well like we've already mentioned, there were only two people working in the entire restaurant that we noticed. One lady who was just doing everything, doing everything, there was front of house and back of house. That's it. Both ended up kind of coming out into front of house
Starting point is 00:27:53 because the guy who clearly was cooking kind of started interacting with us a little bit more toward the end, but they saw the notebooks. They saw us writing notes, taking our thoughts down, and I think it stood out to them that we were there as food reviewers, and that impacts things.
Starting point is 00:28:13 There was a marked improvement where they started checking in a lot more offering extra sauces, refills, game quickly. Always asking, how is everything? How is everything? How is everything? How is everything? And you know what? I'm not gonna knock them for it.
Starting point is 00:28:28 Like, that was great. It was excellent. Yes. But it is one of those things where I'm kind of just like, you should have a default and you shouldn't have to alter for if you notice someone's reviewing you. That said, if you do notice someone's reviewing you, altering it seems like a smart thing.
Starting point is 00:28:44 I like good service. Like I prefer walking into these experiences as more of an NPC. I like the anonymity, yeah, I really do. It is conspicuous that we have books on the table and we're writing in them. And at this point, we're getting into those books. Like we've got pages and pages and pages of notes
Starting point is 00:29:03 from all the different restaurants that we've been to. So it's clear that we're not like just starting out and going to one spot or whatever. I... I'll say this about the service that we had. They're lucky that they weren't busy. I don't think that they could have handled too many more customers. No, there's no physical way they could have. Yeah. Now we went on a Wednesday afternoon, so we went at lunchtime. We went at lunchtime, but I don't know. Four other tables, maybe three.
Starting point is 00:29:37 I was honestly expecting, like, I don't know, some engineers on their lunch or some tech bros or something. Yeah. I think we got one tech bro table. And it's good for them, because I don't know how much they could have juggled, but as a result, I think we got pretty good service,
Starting point is 00:29:52 I would say. I say that we got really great service. I would say, once they noticed, yeah, I would say it became really great service. Oh, I do want to bring up one thing that was kind of funny to me that I don't think you caught on to when it happened. But you know when you're getting a water refill and they're doing it out of a pitcher
Starting point is 00:30:10 and there's just so much ice that it's impeding the speed that the water can come out, our waitress did that to my water and my water was completely empty and it just took forever. And we were both in this acknowledged moment of, do we make eye contact or look away? Do we make small talk or do we stay quiet? It's funny. I'm just like, I feel like I should be looking at her to acknowledge that I appreciate the refill, but I also feel like I shouldn't be staring.
Starting point is 00:30:43 So I don't know what to do. So it would just be like a glance and a nod. And then I'd look away. It went on so long that I had to look over and do another glance and a nod. And then a thank you. And then she skipped from doing pouring out of the nozzle of the pitcher and instead then turned it
Starting point is 00:31:00 and continued pouring out of the side. So I was just like, oh my gosh, this is the longest water pour of my life. And I feel like her and I shared this moment that neither of us really wanted to be this vulnerable during. Ah, so she's like the nurse that collects the specimen sample. Yes, Garrett. What more do you want me to say? I think that's a good summary of that interaction. What kind of is, it was just a, who do you hand the peak up to?
Starting point is 00:31:31 We know what this is, can we not make eye contact? But you're a human, so I'll make eye contact. I'll go one thumb up on this service. I thought it was fine. The guy from the back of house, also very nice. Just seemed to have, I guess some personal investment in our enjoyment of stuff, especially once it seemed that word got out that we were reviewing it. You know, I think he wanted to know how he was doing and stuff.
Starting point is 00:31:53 And I mean, we'll get into this shortly with food, but we got one big wave of food, and then we ordered one dessert, and then one other thing after. And the speed that those things came out was drastically different, and it actually impacted the freshness of the food. Yes. So the later food was a lot better, and we'll talk about that, but do you have a service score?
Starting point is 00:32:13 I think everyone at this restaurant was excellent. Yeah. I just wish it started off that way. Sure. The fact that you had to stand there just twiddling your thumbs for five minutes before anyone even noticed you. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:32:25 That's the thing that's stopping me from giving two thumbs up to this service. Yeah, yeah. Because the quality of service was two thumb up service. Yeah, I think I'm the same. And I think the slow start to good service. Yeah. So I'll say this is my strongest one thumb up possible. Yeah, it's pretty close for me.
Starting point is 00:32:41 Moving on. Food. Yum. The food was something that I begrudgingly enjoyed quite a bit, and I say begrudgingly, because I really did come into this with an ax to grind. You know that. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:32:57 You've been talking about this. Well, because they took something from it. They took my favorite burger and just chucked it out the window and then Continued to have the audacity to call themselves umami burger and they are not the umami burger that I knew so I genuinely have just been bummed That this place isn't what it was and thankfully I hadn't been to Umami Burger since it was good. I guess we'll get into it the way we normally do. You know, we do have Septemberer stuff to get into.
Starting point is 00:33:32 We'll end on that. But what did we start with? We started with some meat substitutes. Yeah, we did. We did. Umami chicken wings and that's CHICK apostrophe N. The apostrophe stands for E. I wanted to do a meat substitute product because Umami burger was one of the first places
Starting point is 00:33:57 you could get an impossible burger back in the day. Back when impossible was breaking on the scene with the substitute me, which I've still never had an Impossible Burger. Have you? Yes. You have? Flavor-wise, I'm okay with them. It's just texturally... Ugh.
Starting point is 00:34:11 So these were the umami chicken wings with buffalo sauce. I thought that they were probably the best plant-based thing I've had. I haven't had a ton of Substitute Meets. It was... Good, I guess. Yeah, like, I don't know, it didn't rock my world, but the Buffalo sauce definitely put in some work to elevate it, and I think the sauce, it's okay for that to count for part of the rating given that it's just such an integral part of how you order the thing. I'm gonna go with like a 6.2 out of 10, slightly above
Starting point is 00:34:44 what I would consider mediocre, into good, they're not better than the real thing, but they're fine, they do the job. Now, I'll mess up a meat substitute. Like when we were in Austin, we had the, it was meat substitute, Nashville hot chicken sandwiches. Which I didn't care for.
Starting point is 00:35:01 I loved those. Yeah. I'm down for that. Oh, give me tofu, any of this stuff? for. I loved those. Yeah. I'm down for that. Oh, give me tofu. Any of this stuff? Yes, I'm down. But, you know what? This corn was dry, flavorless,
Starting point is 00:35:10 tough and pasty bullshit. Really, you just like that much. I hated it. Did you really? I took a bite. I could do no more. Oh man. I'll say the Buffalo Sauce, bomb.
Starting point is 00:35:20 That sauce was great. It was great. It was great sauce. I would go like one out of 10 on these. Would you really? Would you really? Okay. But with the sauce, they're three out of 10. That's great. That's great sauce. I would go like one out of ten on these if it wasn't for the sauce. Would you really? But with the sauce, they're three out of ten. Dang.
Starting point is 00:35:29 Okay. You didn't like make a scene out of disliking them, so this is a surprise to me. I just took a bite. I'm like, I'm done with this. Moving on. Well, that was the only starter we got. I guess before we get into the burgers, let's talk about our sides. Yeah, let's talk about the fries.
Starting point is 00:35:43 Yeah, we got two types. We got just the thin fries, which they used to be thinner. Yeah, they used to be actual shoe strength fries. And now they're average. Yeah, I think calling them a thin fries, is almost a misnomer. They taste about the same that they used to.
Starting point is 00:35:57 I don't really have a big Wendy's size now. Yeah, they're like Wendy's size. I think there's like a little, I want to say truffle oil or something like that. I definitely have a taste in there that's not just standard fry. They were fine. I thought it paired well with the truffle ketchup
Starting point is 00:36:14 and gets out of the way. I have those regular fries at just a six out of 10. The exterior was crisp, the interior was soft and fluffy. This is what I like most. They arrived appropriately seasoned and perfectly peppered. Really strong pepper flavor on these, like we like. Yeah, well, and we haven't even gotten into the other fry
Starting point is 00:36:33 that we got. So I'll give these as a base fry, eight and a half out of 10. Eight and a half. Eight and a half because I didn't have to do anything. They were great as is. I felt like they were a little soggy. Yeah, by the time you got to them. Yeah, I didn't have them right away.
Starting point is 00:36:49 I went right away. It was excellent. Okay. Yeah, they were fine. They didn't rock my world, but they were good. The other fries rocked my world. Yes. These were togarashi fries, which is like a Japanese-style pepper fries. Yes. And you put the fry in your mouth and you get about 8 to 10 seconds before style pepper fries. Yes. And you put the fry in your mouth, and you get about eight to 10 seconds
Starting point is 00:37:07 before the pepper hits. Now, it's not like a super hot, like it's not unmanageable in any way. No, it's just a classic. It's just a classic. Noticeable. And it was good. It was really good.
Starting point is 00:37:17 It was a delicious pepper, and then when it ramps up, it's almost like a different flavors hitting you, and that flavor is good as well. So I went eight and a half out of 10 on these. I'm still not putting them in that like top tier, like nine or 10 out of 10 fry, but like eight and a half, like to me,
Starting point is 00:37:34 that's an excellent fry. And I'm gonna go actually nine and a half out of 10. Yeah. I already love these fries. They were an eight and a half without the seasoning, but toss this togarashi on. Get an extra point. Wow. I looked it up audience members Go home buy yourself some togarashi seasoning and put it on all your fries. Oh, this is something you can just go pick up
Starting point is 00:37:54 All right McCormick. That's just like the random generic American seasoning company. Yeah, the quorum makes togarashi seasoning All right. Yeah, you can get it on Amazon. I might do that With all these fries. I do wanna talk about, we got a ton of dipping sauces. Ooh, we did. We got the umami sauce, we got the black garlic sauce, truffle ketchup, and then the miso ranch. We had the stuff that came with the burgers,
Starting point is 00:38:18 that we got the miso ranch, the truffle mayo, and the truffle ketchup, and the buffalo. So yeah, we just had a ton of sauces on the table. The black garlic, as much as I love garlic, I wasn't in love with it, it was fine. The umami sauce was delicious. Oh, it was. I like the black garlic sauce too.
Starting point is 00:38:35 I mean, I liked it. I just, I like this. I personally really enjoy the sweetness of black garlic. It's just a little surprising thing you don't expect when you hear garlic. Yeah, I guess my take on it is just of the other sauces on the table. It wasn't the one I found myself coming back to. Yeah. By that definition, I'd be like, it's okay.
Starting point is 00:38:52 It was good. It wasn't top dog. Like that ketchup. They have the best ketchup they do. There's two places in the world when I think of, and I think of their ketchup. Umami burger is one of them and what a burger. What a burger catch up you can buy in Texas grocery stores. And every time I go back to Texas, I bring in home with me.
Starting point is 00:39:10 They've got a spicy catch up as well, which is equally as good, just a little bit more of a kick. That what a burger catch up is great, but I think umami takes it. I think that truffle catch up at umami is just a little bit better. I want to talk about the little drink I got. I got a chocolate milkshake. They had a solid chocolate milkshake.
Starting point is 00:39:28 I like to, I downed it pretty quickly. It wasn't huge. Nothing to make it stand out above other milkshakes, but milkshakes in general are pretty delicious. I'm just gonna go seven out of ten. Something that's not impacting the rating, but it came with a thick paper straw that was just gradually collapsing over
Starting point is 00:39:45 the course of it, which is part of why I definitely inhaled it. So now we gotta get into what month it is, Garrett. Garrett, what month is it? It is September. It's September. And Umami was the number one seed for our September bracket. We've gone to six places so far. Umami is the seventh and we've got Johnny rockets next week,
Starting point is 00:40:11 which is facing off with Umami from the number eight seed. Johnny rockets. Yeah, it's an uphill climb, but we are doing this tournament to where we got to order the basic burger from every place. That is their first round match. If they advance to the semi-finals and the finals, which you will only be able to hear if you join our Patreon, then you get into a signature burger and you get into the finals is what is their best burger. So as a result, we ate three burgers. We split them in half, so we had four
Starting point is 00:40:43 burgers. We had a burger in a half each. Actually, yeah, you know what? We forgot to take some social media videos of eating one of the burgers. Yeah, we're like, we want to make social media content about September. Oh man, we should have gotten video about eating burger and Garrett's like, I'll order another burger. And ordering another burger just for social media, I've got to say, Garrett, it's way too much. This is way too much. Yes, it is. This was way too much. I got to give it this week's, this is way too much award. Just the idea
Starting point is 00:41:16 of we're full, but we're ordering another burger just to have video evidence of us eating burgers, which any photo of me serves as evidence that I eat burgers. You take one look at me and you're like, that guy eats burgers. Look at us. We're more meat than man. We are more meat than man. And therefore, it is in fact way too much.
Starting point is 00:41:41 That said, we mentioned that the service got better once they noticed that we were reviewing them. They brought out this burger. It was fresh off the griddle. It was like it never even touched anything. It just went from griddle to bun to mouth. It was perfect. I mean, it wasn't perfect.
Starting point is 00:41:59 It wasn't a 10 out of 10 burger, but it was a marked improvement over that same burger that's the one that actually counts for our September greater. This burger was the absolute best performance that's going to have done. That's performance you can do with the Smashburger patty and no toppings. Yeah, yeah, the dress Smashburger ain't fun. It was their basic burger. So let's talk about it because not that one, but the one that came out first,
Starting point is 00:42:27 that's the one that's eligible for September, right? That's our NPC one. They get to put, yeah, whatever they bring us, not knowing that we're there to evaluate them, that's the burger we're doing. So we got the Basic Burger and their Basic Burger is nothing on it. Meet on a buttery grilled bun.
Starting point is 00:42:45 And it was good. It was the original burger. That's what it was called. We got it as a single instead of a double. And the bun put in work. Yes. We didn't realize. Now we're like, wow, this is so moist and flavorful.
Starting point is 00:43:04 But it was the bun doing the work. I asked Garrett, we're like, wow, this is so moist and flavorful, but it was the bun doing the work. I asked Garrett, I was like, hey, just take a bite of just meat. Let's just see how it is. And it was dry. It was not the most flavorful, and I was honestly surprised because it illuminated how much of the flavor
Starting point is 00:43:24 was coming from the bun. And it makes these maybe the best buns in the game. I mean, Fudrockers is up there as well, but like, I don't know, it's a real close race between those two for me. I still think, yeah, this is the second best bun in the game. Second only to the old bun. Yeah, yeah, to old umami. I was impressed. And the strength of that bun, the original burger I can safely give a 6.72 out of 10. A 6.72 out of 10, to me, 6 to 8, that's good. So I would call this like, you know, right, pretty close to the middle of what I would call a good burger. Yeah, eight and up. That's a great burger.
Starting point is 00:44:09 I mean, the one that we got later, second burger. That was approaching eight. That was approaching. I would have given the second burger an eight and a half. But it's also still just kind of a thin padded smash burger. Yeah, so as far as I'm concerned, there's kind of a cap on that. There is a cap on a smash burger. Like, a smash burger cannot perform as well in a best-case scenario as a thick, juicy gourmet patty. Yeah, it just doesn't have the content to it.
Starting point is 00:44:33 It's not as rich. There's no heft. And I think I need that for a burger to reach that nine to ten out of ten score range. Yeah, no, we want to be hefty boys with our manly burgers. Yeah. So, yeah, there's a little plain bun to thick compared to the amount of 10 score range. Yeah, no, we wanna be hefty boys with our manly burgers. Yeah, so yeah, there's a little plain bun tooth that compared to the amount of meat I thought, but when we realized that the bun was pulling in that much flavor, 6.72 out of 10.
Starting point is 00:44:55 And then, of course, I'm dipping it in ketchup because we have the ketchup there and their ketchup is really good. That is factored into my rating a little bit. I mean, I am rating it on its own as is, but I also don't want to discredit the ketchup, especially because the ketchup is a thing that they bring with the burger. Yeah, so it's there with the intent of going on there. I'm gonna rate it independent of the ketchup. The ketchup was great. It was great with the ketchup.
Starting point is 00:45:17 It was great without the ketchup. Yeah. What I really liked about this because it's a smash burger. It had a successful Myard reaction on the meat. And again, the Myard reaction is the caramelization of the meat. So you can get that crispy brown layer on the pan. Yeah, yeah. Which there was a little crunch to it. It was. Yeah, it was good. I like it. It's, it's a good texture. So where are you going on this score? I'm going to go 7.01 for the initial basic burger. Alright, so that means for September, the first round entry from our number one seed, Umami burger, gets a 6.87. That's the score that Johnny Rocket's basic burger is going to have to beat if it wants
Starting point is 00:46:03 to advance to the semifinals of September. The other burgers that will be later in the bracket if Umami advances, we can talk about now. We will give their scores, but at the end of the day, the matchups that they're against, we won't know until we actually hear that semifinal episode on Patreon. I thought the bacon ranch burger, which we got as a double, was a very slight improvement over the first basic burger we got. Yeah, putting things on it makes it better. I guess this was the closest thing to the manly burger that you can get ingredients wise. The most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most most in a bite. I'm not a person who likes anything to be slathered. I want it there to just enhance the taste, enhance the flavor, but I don't want it to be the flavor. So this miso ranch, it was okay. First of
Starting point is 00:47:14 all, the bacon, this was a happy medium between the Manley Burger, lardons of the past, the perfect bacon that you could get, and the trash microwave bacon I got at the growth that one time. It was like a pancetta you would get in a carbonara. It was very kind of, it was almost like bacon bits kind of the way it was carved up. Also next to chopped up onions, dashi onions were the ones they got,
Starting point is 00:47:37 which are different from kind of the fried onion strings that it used to have. I haven't explained it to those two. Let's hear it. So dashi is a Japanese soup stock made of kombu and bonito flakes. Kombu is dried seaweed. Benito flakes are smoked fermented tuna. So, this stock is your most common miso soup base.
Starting point is 00:47:56 Also, what they did with the onions, these weren't sautéed or grilled onions. They sweated these. What does that mean? Sweating onions is cooking them at a lower temperature so they don't caramelize. They donated these. What does that mean? Sweating onions is cooking them at a lower temperature, so they don't caramelize. They don't brown. So if you notice, they were still raw-ish, but definitely cooked. They were a little sweeter, a little more tender, so that's called sweating your onions.
Starting point is 00:48:17 Interesting. And what they likely did is near the end of the sweat process, they tossed in some dashi right on top of that, let that reduce and boom, final product. Wow. It's like their actual chefs. Yeah. I know, right?
Starting point is 00:48:31 Yeah. Like, there's an artistry to the culinary realm. Speaking of presentation, umami's old buns, they used to brand the top of the buns with a U for umami. And that was kind of the first alarming change that I noticed the last time I went. That was like such a signature and I'm sad that that hasn't stuck around.
Starting point is 00:48:52 It's just a nice part of the presentation. It was, and it's still, they still do that in Paris. Oh, okay, cool. I will say that getting this burger as a double kind of accentuated the dryness of the patty just a little bit the combination of ingredients did work for me. I enjoyed the miso ranch. I thought that it helped fight the dryness quite a bit. And I was getting more miso than ranch flavor because I'm not traditionally a big ranch guy. I won't eat just a ranch dressing on nor will I. Pretty much anything. It's disgusting. Yeah, but you mixed something with it.
Starting point is 00:49:27 We've had no, I forget where we had it, but there was an avocado ranch on something we ate recently that I actually really enjoyed. But I enjoyed this. I'm gonna go a little bit higher than the basic burger. 6.94 out of 10. Still just in the good category, still around the middle of good, but this was their signature burger. Yeah, not what I would call their best burger. I really liked the bacon pork belly panchetta chunks. It added a saltiness that paired really well with the umami from the meat and the onions.
Starting point is 00:50:00 And like, you liked this ranch. I didn't. I had a taste of it and just the creaminess, there's something about the creamy profile of ranch that just immediately grosses me out. Yeah, no, it's a preference thing and we both have it. Like you and I, we have very similar taste buds. There are places where it diverges and I think this is one of those cases,
Starting point is 00:50:21 but I also feel like I never overdid it on any bite with the sauce. The bacon grease and dashi onions provided sufficient moisture for me. Mm-hmm. So I will go 7.10 on this burger. 7.10, which puts this burger at a 7.02. Okay.
Starting point is 00:50:41 So if Umami advances to the semi-finals, this burger entry will be a 7.02. But now we gotta go to the finals round burger. If Umami can make it all the way, what burger are we gonna judge them on, Garrett? The double truffle burger. The truffle burger. The thing that Umami kind of touts. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:51:03 The most. The truffle burger has been a part of their menu since the beginning. And it's always been my favorite. It's a lot of people's favorite. Yeah. Again, we have an active moisture balancing with the smash-style patties.
Starting point is 00:51:14 Yeah. But they had dill pickle chips on there. And I thought the brine from the dill pickles provided just enough moisture. And I liked the tanginess of that, which paired with the Truffle Mayo and Dashi Onion. So you got tanginess plus umami. The Truffle Mayo was fantastic.
Starting point is 00:51:32 Yes. The pickles. I'm not traditionally a pickle guy. I'm kind of doing immersion therapy where I'm just forcing myself to eat them a little bit more. I thought that they really worked here. They didn't overdo it. This thing wasn't loaded with pickles. It was just enough to be like,
Starting point is 00:51:45 we're gonna give you a little crunch. We're gonna give you the flavor, but it's not gonna dominate. I did think that this was the most well-rounded of the three burgers. The truff mayo, just the best sauce they have, I think. I'm gonna jump all the way up to a 7.96 on this burger. Wow. So to me, that's like, we're talking that this
Starting point is 00:52:08 thing's approaching greatness. If this were the old style patty, I totally would have gone up there. I'm going to go 7.33, which means that this burger in the finals round, if it makes it to the finals of Septembergar, 7.65. It's pretty strong. I think that's a contender for chain restaurant best of the best. Yes. In my mind, that already loses to our favorite other burgers. Oh yeah, there's places I know that are like one-off places that like, I have a couple 10 out of 10 burgers out there.
Starting point is 00:52:45 They are just ineligible because they are not chains. So that is it for the Septemberer entries of Umami Burger, but we're not done there. There's always room for dessert. I see what you did there. Yeah, yeah. All right, so we got the Yuzu Kaya Hand Pie, which is like a, like Yuzu,
Starting point is 00:53:02 it's an Asian citrus fruit with like coconut jam in it and Vanilla Bean ice cream with it. They also had an apple pie on the menu that they didn't have in stock and then they had a fig and breed cheese hand pie. So of the three we chose the Yuzu Kaya, it kind of seemed the most appropriate for a place called Umami going
Starting point is 00:53:23 with kind of these Japanese flavor profiles. I thought it was pretty good. It was a tasty little treat. It burned my mouth like the filling was just molten hot and kind of hit the side of my lip. But the Yuzu flavor really pronounced in it. Solid ice cream. The perfect crust texture I thought on the hand pie, just deliciously flaky. I'm gonna go eight out of 10 on this dessert. I think it's a very solid dessert. It reminded me a lot of like the hostess fruit pies. Sure. But a bougie version. I really liked the, I thought it was like a Yuzu custard almost.
Starting point is 00:54:00 Yeah. Yeah. Not that vibe and it was, it had custard in its description on the menu. I really liked that it was not too sweet. If it gets too sweet, I'm taking the rating down. I love, like to me, the sweeter the I mean, as long as I'm not wincing from sweetness, but yeah, our tolerances are different on that. Like, I would give this a seven out of 10, but you know, I'm going to boost it up to a seven point five because it burned your mouth. Again, the most arbitrary rating scale in the world is yours. Hey, I think it's pretty steady. If food causes either one of us pain, the other one's gonna bump it up in the rating.
Starting point is 00:54:37 I don't change my rating based on you. I eat it and I score it. That said, now let's go into my bias. As much as this food was good all around, I would say that a normal place this would earn two thumbs up food, but I cannot help but hold against it what they used to be. So on principle, the highest I can go for Umami Burger's food is one thumb up and it's just a Nostalgic bias
Starting point is 00:55:08 They just aren't what they used to be one thumb up never serve food to a Michael scorned. That's what they say I'm gonna go two thumbs up on this. Yeah, I know objectively. I looked at my ratings This is a two thumbs up rating and I don't have any emotional attachment to it I'm taking this food as it was in that meal and it was two thumb-up food All right, well we got to take all these things factor them together and spit out a score for you But first why don't we go to Yelp and see what strangers are saying about this umami location in this week's Yelp from Strangers? We need a little yelp, a little yelp, a little yelp from Strangers. A one star, two star, three star, four by eye.
Starting point is 00:56:01 So get a little yelp, a little yelp, a little yelp, little yelp, little yelp from strangers. A little yelp, little yelp, give us those complaints why you literally want to die. Yelp! Alright, this is this week's Yelp from Strangers, our segment where we go to Yelp and read out our favorite one, two, three, four, and five star reviews that people have written about this specific location for Umami Burger. 2 Star Review. I want to start us off with a 2 star review, Garrett.
Starting point is 00:56:37 Can I do that? We don't want to start off with something good. Angela C. from Thousand Oaks February 16th, 2022. I hate to say it, but Umami's quality has fallen. Hard. Nothing against the staff who I believe are doing their absolute best. The food just isn't the same. Since two years ago, the menu completely changed and now it's basically a bougie McDonald's.
Starting point is 00:57:01 Yes, that bad. Wow, that's even worse. I saw someone on Reddit calling it Buzzy Jack in the box. Oh, woof. The bun was missing the signature U. The patty was thin and slightly burnt. The fries barely had any truffle sauce.
Starting point is 00:57:18 And the only thing that tasted remotely like the original umami was the ketchup. Great ketchup. Great ketchup. Please bring the old umami burger back. This place used to be a classic. Now I'd rather go to in and out and not get ripped off two stars. Wolf. They took the words right out of my head though. They did. At least that first time I went back a couple years back, but man, I miss it, I really do.
Starting point is 00:57:46 The anger has subsided, but the sentiment has not. You will never heal from this broken heart. No, I will not. Five star review. Let's bring some positivity back into our lives with a five star review. All right. James E. from Oceanside April 3rd, 2022. Quiet, soft, and I'm hungry.
Starting point is 00:58:10 Coming here after hearing a bunch of girls screaming is just a good wait. Hold on. It did he murder someone? Did he murder a group of girls? I hope he didn't. He imagined writing a Yelp review after like, oh man, I just killed a bunch of people. And I just had to take the edge off and mommy hit the spot. Alright, after hearing a bunch of girls screaming is just a good place to get away with the wife for a little while. Oh great, he brought it in a complex. Yeah, no, partners in crime.
Starting point is 00:58:46 But in clay, good for them. We stopped on the way home from the dance competition for a bite, and we found this German Irvine. The atmosphere is laid back, and just to the quietness we wanted. So sit back, have a nice drink, relax, eat, and watch the scenery. The warm lamps keep you even warmer when it's chilly outside. Enjoy. This seems like the type of guy who just massages his temples a lot.
Starting point is 00:59:14 Also, this is the type of guy that has a planned out place to bury the bodies. Look, I'll say this. I'm pretty sure any restaurant would be five stars from me if I'm still going off that adrenaline high from murder And this couple murdered an entire dance company of children. Oh God, we've gone off the rails You can go download our full Yelp from Stranger's segment at our Patreon. The link for that is in the description of this episode, or you can go to slash find outting podcast, and we're now offering a one week free trial, so what do you have to lose? Go check it out! People Garrett, the Chachki of mediocrity is hungry. It needs a burger place added to it. We need
Starting point is 01:00:22 to know what score is who mommy burger gonna get. Where's it gonna sit on this shrine to the journey we've taken so far? I can safely say that going one thumb up in every category, this place was good. I really wanted to come into this and hate on it. I was ready to just torch it. And we know how I feel about the changes they've made, but I can't deny that it was still a solid dining experience. It was an above average dining experience. Now average is that four to six range Garrett,
Starting point is 01:00:59 the zone of mediocrity. In good conscience, I can't put it in that zone. I've got. I'm going to go as high as 7.51 for Umami burger. I thought this was a good meal. I thought it was worth the drive. I'm glad we got to do it, especially knowing that locations are closing at such a breakneck pace. By the time this episode comes out, it may not even be a round anymore. We may never get to taste this again. Yeah. This entire experience from the cohesively trendy Urban Decor,
Starting point is 01:01:33 the eventual top notch service to the reputation redeeming solid food was enough to make this one of my highest rated restaurants to date. Yeah. Barely edging out poppado, which I've put at a 7.52. Okay. So I'm gonna give Umami Burger a 7.55. I wouldn't mind another location of this place,
Starting point is 01:01:55 opening near me. I would go back, but as it stands, putting our ratings together, going up on the Chanchaki of Mediocriti, Umami Burger has a 7.53. Well it's better than Outback on there. And Garrett, we're doing things a little bit differently during September. Usually we play a headline on there and Garrett we're doing things a little bit differently during September or usually we play a headline game to determine where we're gonna go next, but we already know where we're going next because we've got a bracket to get through. We're going to Johnny Rockets next.
Starting point is 01:02:36 I've got headlines already. I did it anyway. You did make some headlines, so I'm here to listen to him and just play the game. But umami didn't score in the zone of mediocrity. You did get to pick last time whether we went to umami or Johnny Rocket's next, which means you were the selector of umami burger, which means that this you must bold punishment does go to you. Garrett, do you mind if I do the honors? Go for it. Before going to the restaurant, put on non-waterproof mascara and cry slash apply a few drops of water to simulate crying. Every verbal interaction with staff must begin with you saying, I'm fine, I'm fine. Dealers choice
Starting point is 01:03:26 on tone and delivery. This is from listener Gregory Me. You know what's really uncomfortable? Seeing a grown man in tears. You know, it's more uncomfortable than that. What? Seeing two grown men sitting together in tears. In solidarity, I am going to willingly put myself through the you must both punishment with you. I love it when we're both doing it together. I don't like the way you phrase that, but okay. You hate the way I phrase a lot of things. I just the way you speak.
Starting point is 01:04:02 I'm a special, special human being. You're a special little boy. I am a special, fussy little boy. Play this song. Yeah, it's a fussy little boy. Yeah, it's a fussy little boy. Baby, yeah, it's a fussy little boy. Yeah, it's a fussy little boy.
Starting point is 01:04:22 It's fine, I'm fine. All right, well, you and I are both going to make a waiter or waitress feel just real weird. Hey, the food will still taste the same as the food will taste the same. And we're just going to look like emotional messes on the outside, which will match how we normally are on the inside. Yeah. Well, we know that we're going to Johnny Rockets next week, but Garrett, you have prepared some headlines, so let's play a game of the No Stakes headline game. Yes, the best kind. The rules of the headline game are as follows. Garrett will present three headlines to Michael that include this week's restaurant. They can be made up, or they can be actual headlines.
Starting point is 01:05:06 If Michael can correctly guess, if at least two out of three or real or fake, he will get to select next week's restaurant. However, if Garrett stomps him, he'll select again. Are you ready to play, fellas? I'm ready. This is the headline game where we both lose. Sure. Alright, okay here, I'll start on a good one. Okay. I'm ready. This is the headline game where we both lose Sure, all right. Okay here. I'll start on a good one. Okay
Starting point is 01:05:32 headline number one Trash like you Teen says her umami burger came in box filled with kitchen garbage and Scrolled with a nasty message I'm gonna say true. Despite how out of your brain that sounds, it's so specific. Okay, next one. Homeless man with toy pistol gunned down by police outside studio city umami burger. You look on your face.
Starting point is 01:06:09 I'm gonna say false, but I don't know. Okay, last one. This burger is King No More. Umami burger to shutter its last remaining location in San Francisco on King Street. I mean, I agree with the sentiment, but I feel like you're using that against me, so I'm gonna say false. So the first one, trash like you. Teen says her umami burger came in box filled with kitchen garbage and scrawled with a nasty message.
Starting point is 01:06:41 I said true. That is true. She really did receive this. She was actually just recovering from pneumonia. I mean, to be fair, everyone who's received delivery umami since 2021 has received trash in a box. Yeah. Boom!
Starting point is 01:06:56 Got him! So, next one. Homeless man with toy pistol gun down by police outside studio city umami burger by saying false I am accusing you of being a monster for making that up But it also sounds like a thing that could very much be true. You are right the headline is false The story is true though. This was never a real headline. Oh, but this actually happened. I was like a block away at the time What yeah, geez This is the last one. This burger is King no more actually happened, I was like a block away at the time. What? Yeah.
Starting point is 01:07:25 Geez. This is the last one. This burger is King No More. Umami burger to shutter. It's last remaining location in San Francisco on King Street. You said false. That is false.
Starting point is 01:07:37 That is not a headline. But that literally did just happen a few months ago. You said that you were gonna trick me in that I wouldn't be able to get any of these and I got all three. You did, because all three of these actually happened. Here's the thing though, I got all three finally on a headline game that didn't matter.
Starting point is 01:07:53 I know, right? It's easy to succeed when there are no stakes. Yeah. So speaking of succeeding when there's no stakes, next week, all the stakes, the final spot in the first round of September, where we had to Patreon to close out the semifinals and the finals, Johnny Rockets. Yeah, how do you think Johnny Rockets is going to do this to Johnny Rockets?
Starting point is 01:08:17 I've always liked Johnny Rockets. I don't think that they're going to dethrone Umami, but I mean, I don't know. Umami's basic burgers scored in the sixes. Yeah, I don't, you like Johnny Rockets. I like Burger King. I had like a period of my life in high school where I was just all about BK, largely due to the remarketing
Starting point is 01:08:36 where they introduced the King mascot, who I loved and it was when they released their video games and Sneak King, where you literally have to just sneak up to people and present them with burgers is just the wildest video game. I love food video games like hooters did it. Yeah. Anyways, we didn't find the most mediocre restaurant in America, but we did find another burger. Yeah, add to our bracket the number one seed. So tune in next week for the final first round matchup in September. And then head on over to our Patreon to find the finals. We gotta keep looking for the most mediocre restaurant in America.
Starting point is 01:09:14 And as we continue that search, follow it on our social media, follow it on the podcast. If you haven't left us a review yet on Apple podcasts, we'd really appreciate it if you took the time to do that. Tomorrow, tell one new person about this podcast. Word of mouth helps us out tremendously. So sit your friends down, force them to listen to your favorite episode.
Starting point is 01:09:33 And if that doesn't hook them, force them to listen to your second favorite episode and so forth. If you're an Uber driver, only play this background. But in the meantime, we're gonna be out there still looking for the most mediocre restaurant in America. We didn't find it this background. But in the meantime, we're going to be out there still looking for the most mediocre restaurant in America. We didn't find it this week. We will see you next time. Have a fine day. And I can't subscribe to search continues Our journey did not conclude
Starting point is 01:10:11 The mother at the search continues Rattles and I do's review And hey, while you're at it, why don't you go ahead and make it five stars? Come on. Follow us on TikTok. The same on Instagram. All the socials at FindDiningPodcast. We have a website.
Starting point is 01:10:44 Buy our T-shirts Then put them on And don't forget You can always suggest where we go next Okay! We're going to find it Media-craf, the search continues See you next week! I heard my throat a little.
Starting point is 01:11:18 Have a fine day! you

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