Lunch options around my office in Oakland’s Uptown district continues to fancy up with the recent opening of Umami Burger.

The L.A.-based chain opened its third Northern California location at the corner of a food vortex near Broadway and Grand that’s home to Plum and Ike’s Sandwiches. I’ve tried its San Francisco spot on Union Street in Cow Hollow, and while I found the vibe fun and the burger menu interesting, I always felt the burgers lacked punch in delivering some of the specialty items like their Truffled Burger that really didn’t have a distinct truffle taste.

The same can be said about the Oakland location, where the menu looks slightly different but still offers a nice array of specialty burgers with sides like pickled vegetables, salads and fries.

Simple Umami
The Oakland location is a bit more sparse, with only a large mural providing much character to the otherwise utilitarian design. Early on, the curious crowds kept the lunch scene busy, but now it’s sometimes busy, sometimes quiet – probably because the gourmet prices for the gourmet burgers might hinder a few of the working crowds (like myself).

The Original Umami burger ($11) is served with a parmesan crisp, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato and caramelized onions. Because I was torn between the Original and the Hatch, my server gave me some green chilies on the side.

The Original Umami burger ($11) is served with a parmesan crisp, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato and caramelized onions. Because I was torn between the Original and the Hatch, my server gave me some green chilies on the side.

When I ate dinner with my friend Vera, I tried the Ahi Tuna Burger ($15), which was a huge patty of raw tuna for the burger. It really was 99 percent rare because the searing was very light, just barely visible if you were looking. Still, I enjoyed the flavors, with a touch of wasabi and gingered carrots.

A Truffled Beet Salad ($7) promised a lot of truffled item like dressing and truffled ricotta, but again I didn’t feel there was enough of a truffle flavor. Despite the lack of truffleness, the salad itself was huge with a pile of arugula and the beets were nicely cooked tender, sliced almost like my tuna.

Vera, who’s on a gluten-free diet, had her Hatch burger ($10) without the bun, which is served with lettuce cups instead of the bun. She thought the green chiles were mild, but did like the standard issue French fries ($3.50) that was pencil thin.

The Last Bite
Umami Burger Oakland is a nice addition to the area, but it’s just a couple of blocks from Trueburger, which I feel offers up similarly cooked burgers but for a better value. Umami has the leg up over Trueburger because of its more diverse menu, but not everything that sounds fancy will always delivery.

Rating: 2 out of 4 camera snaps

2-snaps

 


Umami Burger, 2100 Franklin St. (at 22nd), Oakland. PH: 510.899.8626. Open Sun.-–Thu., 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 11 a.m.–11 p.m. No reservations, major credit cards accepted. Website

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

Truffled beet salad ($7) with truffled ricotta, smoked almonds, wild baby arugula, and truffle dressing ($7)

Truffled beet salad ($7) with truffled ricotta, smoked almonds, wild baby arugula, and truffle dressing ($7)

Thin fries, standard issue, $3.50

Thin fries, standard issue, $3.50

The new manager of Umami Oakland chatting up the customers at the bar

The new manager of Umami Oakland chatting up the customers at the bar

Hatch burger is roasted green chiles, house American cheese, roasted garlic aioli ($10), served sans buns and with lettuce cups

Hatch burger is roasted green chiles, house American cheese, roasted garlic aioli ($10), served sans buns and with lettuce cups

Ahi tuna burger ($15), lightly seared ahi with sprouts, crushed avocado, gingered carrots, wasabi flake, and wasabi tartar

Ahi tuna burger ($15), lightly seared ahi with sprouts, crushed avocado, gingered carrots, wasabi flake, and wasabi tartar

One Response to Review of Umami Burger in Oakland

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Wow, that is a really rare ahi burger. Though, I do love my ahi in sashimi, so I could see this working in a burger. Still need to try the Umami Burger that opened in Palo Alto.

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