After finishing the Disneyland Half Marathon, I was staaarving. While racing, I teased Valerie Chinn and her husband about taking them to Quan Hy Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster for the best banh beo (Vietnamese steamed rice discs with dried shrimp) in town. But Little Saigon was too far away when they still needed to get back to their hotel to get ready before check-out.
Then I remembered that Umami Burger opened in Anaheim last year and a bit of Googling turned up that it was only 1.1 miles away. The clincher was when I told them that the burgers were made with Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce) and that people waited for three hours for tables when Umami Burger opened this summer in New York City.
But first, I'll go back to last summer, when I was invited by Veronica Rathbourn of Dog and a Duck to Umami Burger's grand opening in Anaheim. While I'd heard about Umami Burger when it first opened in Los Angeles in 2009, I hadn't actually gotten around to trying it myself. Could it live up to all that hype?
My friend DP and I came to the event with very low expectations, and ended up leaving quite pleasantly surprised.
The party got started with cocktails. Packard Caribbean, Bacardi OakHeart rum, passionfruit, lemon, Disaronno. Mmm. I love passionfruit.
Angeles cocktail, Grey Goose Cherry Noir, strawberry, aromatized wine, lemon juice. Huh. Learn something new every day. Aromatized wines have herbs, roots, and spices added to give them natural flavors.
Black Razz Mojito, Bacardi Black Razz, mint, lime, soda.
I loved all the drinks, and since I wasn't driving, might have had one of each. Or more. :P
Since we got there early, we managed to snag a bar table to the side of the room. The restaurant filled up pretty quickly. We ended up making friends with Gloria, who sat beside us by herself. She was the +1, but her friend wasn't coming for another hour. That's too bad. More food for us!
Actually, there was tons of food coming out of the kitchen. I was squatting our table to make sure we didn't lose our spot, but my friend DP kept excitedly roving around to check things out. I was content to sit and let the food come to me. :)
The burgers were smaller sized so that we could try more of them, but I'll include prices for normal-sized portions so you get a feel.
What makes Umami Burgers burgers so distinctive is the Red Boat Fish Sauce in the marinade and the brioche buns. Fish sauce, mushrooms, tomatoes, Umami Burger focuses on umami, the sixth tastebud.
The Greenbird, Shelton Farms turkey, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, green goddess, $12. These were juicy and delicious. I like turkey burgers, so paired with avocado and sprouts made them a winner for me.
Instead of a burger, the Ahi Tuna Burger was served as little lettuce wraps, seared ahi tuna, crushed avocado, gingered carrots, sprouts, wasabi flake, wasabi tartar, $15. I ate a lot of the ahi tuna bites. They were awesome.
My favorite burger was the Hatch Burger, roasted green chilies, house American cheese, roasted garlic aioli, $10. So mouthwatering! I ate multiples of the Hatch Burger too.
The sausage was good, but paled in comparison to the burgers and ahi tuna bites. I only tried one and saved my stomach space for the better stuff.
Cheesy Tots. The cheese was incorporated inside the diced potatoes, so biting into one was cheesy crispy goodness. I ate several of these too.
Smushed Potatoes, double fried creamer potatoes, roasted garlic aioli, $4.5. Fried until crispy. Smushed flat so that some of the soft potato insides were exposed, and fried again. The resulting textures were awesome. I usually boil or bake the potatoes until soft, then smush, and bake, but double frying was definitely crispier.
An Anaheim exclusive was the Welsh Rabbit Burger, signature beef patty smothered in a broiled vintage English cheddar cheese sauce, bread and butter pickles, $13. This was OK, but I far preferred the Hatch Burger.
Rico Suave, Grey Goose, St. Germain, lemon, cucumber. I'm more of a fruity cocktails drinker.
Also exclusive for the event was the Absinthe Root Beer Float, root beer topped with absinthe ice cream from L.A. Creamery. And with that, my friend and I were overstuffed, but sooo sooo happy. Umami Burger totally lived up to its hype for me.
Fast forward a year later to the end of my friends' visit for the Disneyland Half Marathon. My camera died on me, so all subsequent photos are courtesy of Valerie's phone.
I see they finally got a sign.
Housemade dipping sauces. The ketchup is housemade too.
I had to get the Hatch Burger. That's all I could think about on the drive over.
Valerie ordered the Truffle Burger, famous blend of beef, roasted garlic aioli, house truffle cheese, truffle glaze, $12. The truffle flavor was quite prominent.
Her husband ordered the Manly Burger, beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked-salt Onion Strings, house ketchup, mustard spread, $11. Manly? I wanted to order this burger just as much as he did. And truthfully, we shared everything so it was a mutual decision which burgers to order. Mmm. Fried onion strings, bacon, what's not to love?
We ordered Cheesy Tots and Smushed Potatoes for sides. You can tell how large the tots were up against my Disneyland Half Marathon MEDAL! :P By the way, the Cheesy Tots aren't written on the menu anymore, but they'll still make them for you if you order.
They say to replenish with protein after a race. And did we! Mmm.
While we were eating, Valerie texted pictures of our meal to her brother, who was still in town. He and his wife immediately made plans to go to the Umami Burger - Pasadena.
I wanted to pay for the check since my friends had been paying for me all weekend, but Valerie's husband insisted he wanted to celebrate finishing my first half marathon. Aww. Thanks guys! What a great end to a weekend of delicious eats, running the race of my life, and catching up with friends.
After I dropped them off at their hotel, and got home, I showered, uploaded a photo of my medal to Facebook, and crashed. I woke up a few hours later, but my legs were sooo sore that I had to lie in bed for most of the day. Luckily my friends had family to drive them to the airport because I was useless. Only getting up to pack for a trip to Oregon the next morning. Owww! Owww! I hobbled for a good two days afterward. Running a half marathon is no joke! I don't know how Valerie's husband ran the Disney World half and full marathons back to back. Crazy!
Other burger posts:
Burgerville - Portland - Oregon
In-N-Out Burger and the "Hidden" Menu
Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen - Portland - Oregon
The Oinkster - Eagle Rock
The Original Tops - Pasadena
Umami Burger (Various locations)
338 S. Anaheim Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92805
Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight
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