432 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 677-8626

When Umami Burger first opened a while couple of years ago, it did so amidst a crazy load of hype. Lines of over an hour were common. Friends like Sparkles told me that they made the trip in the late afternoon to avoid the crush of humanity yearning, ever yearning, for these fantastic orgasm-inducing hamburgers. As you probably know, I'm not a fan of hype. Hype creates expectation and expectation breeds disappointment. So I waited a year for the hype to die so I could go (also, I kept forgetting).

The long story is that I plan to climb up a mountain and climbing mountains with no experience at all means one thing: a trip to REI. Umami Burger was kindasorta on the way between the subway and the ultimately not very helpful staff at the sporting goods store. Mr. Dogz agreed to accompany on this jaunt and I suggested a little stop over for lunch. He was curious to see if the Umami powerhouse could beat our previous Best Burger winner, Black Iron Burger. The short story is that, while very good, it did not beat Black Iron.

Okay, so the burgers did not blow us out of the water. But how could they? Remember the hype? Hype is like rust. It eats expectation from the inside out. But the burgers were still quite good. We ordered two and split both. First, of course, one must have the signature Umami Burger to get a sense of the baseline. The Umami burger comes with a thin Parmesan chip instead of melted cheese, which I liked. It added a little extra texture. It also came topped with shitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onion, and a house ketchup. The second burger was the Manly Burger, a patty topped with bacon, cheddar, onion strings, ketchup, and mustard. The menu sexies up the description somewhat, but you get the idea. We also ordered a side of Thin Cut French Fries, which came with a selection of dipping sauces, all of which I recommend. The burgers themselves with very thick, almost hard to put inside of one's mouth. They were good, but too busy, specifically the Umami burger itself. The shitake mushroom seemed to fight the beef rather than add the creaminess that it was probably supposed to. Somehow, while we liked both, we found ourselves feeling nonplussed.

So I posed this question to Dogz "Umami Burger, or Bareburger?" figuring that they're both small, but not too small chains that specialize in high end hamburgers. Both brag about serving craft beef and both are very popular. He chose Bareburger because of the option to order all of their burgers with different kinds of meat, from beef, to bison, to elk, to duck. I agreed, but I do prefer to dining experience of Umami Burger. Bareburger, at least the ones I've been to of late, have been a little to family friendly. They've become too chain-y if that makes sense. I liked Umami's trendiness, clean lines, and lack of kiddie chairs.

The Umami hamburgers are far from fast food and I was frankly shocked how long the food took to arrive. So bring some conversation. Burgers average about $12, though some cost less and some cost more. Fries are not included. There are also salads and appetizers, which we did not have.

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