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.
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).
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
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
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