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The Early Word on Umami Burger in Cow Hollow

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Photo: Eater SF Flickr Pool/cozysf

SoCal-import Umami Burger opened its first San Francisco location almost exactly seven weeks ago. Known for artful use of "umami" a.k.a the fifth taste, the decidedly upscale burger chain piles the proven sensory pleasures of ingredients like caramelized onions, tomato, and parmesan cheese on top of a house-ground burger. Some serious Umami Burger buzz has been brewing since months before it touched down in Cow Hollow, but will the quick-service joint's special "umami ketchup" change the local outlook on condiments? Will diners forsake nearby locally based options at Super Duper and Roam Artisan Burgers for a gussied-up truffled patty on a branded bun? Find out what early diners are saying right here.

The Burger News: Focus, Snap, Eat called the truffle burger "oily," noting the patty's lack of truffle flavor: "I could barely detect any taste other than the meatiness of the beef," he laments. San Francisco Food thought the truffle-infused cheese "nearly brought the burger to overkill," but Yelper John R. considers this "one uniquely out of control insane delicious burger," and Kauffman says the signature Umami Burger "definitely has a swagger, a full-charge meatiness that is easy to appreciate." [Focus Snap Eat, SF Food, Yelp, SF Weekly]

The Fries News: SF Weekly's Jonathan Kauffman considers Umami's fries the only palatable side dish on offer: "With the exception of straight-up skinny fries ($3.50), most [sides] were awful," he writes. San Francisco Food found the sweet-potato fries "fine," while Chowhounder Jasmine G. considered them "really good," minus the surfeit of cinnamon. David Kover at Serious Eats didn't consider the fries "much better than pretty good" and asks readers, "why not split a second burger with a dining companion instead?" [Serious Eats, Chowhound, SF Weekly]

The Service News: During Kover's meal, the restaurant had "plenty of staff, with maybe not enough to do." Focus, Snap, Eat notes that the "efficient staff" kept "the tables turning," and San Francisco Food considered the staff "polite, attentive" and "truly curious to know what we thought of the burgers." Even J. Kauff says the waitstaff delivered the food "in good time." [Focus Snap Eat, SF Weekly, Serious Eats]

The Leggings News: Chron's Paolo Lucchesi shares his two cents on Umami's people-watching potential: "Sitting on the sidewalk on a nice day on Union is prime people-watching (set the over/under on the number of black stretchy pants passers-by for a weekend lunch at 20 and let the games begin)." [ISSF]

The Interior News: Kauffman calls Umami Burger "the city's most attractive burger restaurant, a confluence of ruddy woods, pale grays, and ceramic tiles dominated by a wall of cedar-shake shingles." [SF Weekly]

The Cookie News: For dessert, Umami Burger offers ice cream sandwiches with house-made cookies and ice cream from Humphry Slocombe. Serious Eats' dining companion enjoyed the cookies, but "didn't find the ice cream even remotely bearable on its own." Yelper Jerico P. received an on-the-house sandwich when the first contained "tough cookies," and fellow Yelper Becky W. found the Guinness ice cream "so good" but the cookies "a bit hard." [Yelp, Serious Eats]

The Hype News: SFBG's Virginia Miller notes that, while Umami "already has a staunch following ensured," the restaurant is "definitely" overhyped. Echoing Miller, Chowhounder The Librarian writes, "I find the whole concept rather pretentious (these are just hamburgers, after all)." Fellow Chowhounder Boythefoodtalksto claims that a meal at Umami is "as much or more about location and pretense than it is about the food." [SFBG, Chowhound]

The Ketchup News: Umami's house-made ketchup has eaters at odds. Chowhound's carieshmarie finds the condiment "addictive," and Chowhounder drinkmoretang claims, "The sweet, tangy, loaded-with-depth umami ketchup is one of the best things that's ever happened to me." Virginia Miller declares the ketchup "tempting," but San Francisco Food notes that the ketchup "was still ketchup." [Chowhound, SF Food]

- Kate Garklavs

· All Umami Burger Coverage [~ ESF ~]

Umami Burger

452 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301 Visit Website

Umami Burger

2184 Union Street, San Francisco, CA