Arts & Leisure

Paying full-price for paradise burgers

UMAMI BURGER is located in an old Packard dealership on Anaheim Boulevard in the Packing House District of downtown Anaheim (OC Tribune photo).

By Jim and Marilyn Tortolano

A coach’s saying ran like this: “Anything is ours if we are willing to pay the price.”

Do you want one of the tastiest hamburgers anywhere to be found in Orange County? And are you willing to pay gourmet prices for it?

That’s the story of Umami Burger, a worldwide chain represented locally in the Packing House District of the revived downtown Anaheim. Housed in an old Packard auto dealership on Anaheim Boulevard, Umami offers a wide selection of top-notch burgers, sandwiches, salads, sides, appetizers and drinks, both alcoholic and soft.

“Umami” is a Japanese word meaning “delicious,” and that certainly applies to the fare at the Anaheim location (there’s also one in Costa Mesa). With a slight Asian spin, Umami delivers a fistful of delight.

Marilyn had the Umami Burger, served with Parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and Umami ketchup (on the side). Tender, very juicy, flavorful, and, yeah, delicious. The bun, too. “Just a fantastic burger.”

MANLY BURGER, tempura rings and Umami burger (OC Tribune photo).

Jim, a bit more basic, ordered the Manly Burger. That comes with house beer cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked salt onion strings and Umami ketchup and mustard spread (both on the side). “Best burger ever, or close to it.”

As a side, tempura onion rings, thick-cut and battered were – we hate to repeat ourselves ­– just, umami.

However, this sort of excellence does not come cheap. Our burgers were $13 and $14 and that’s without a side. With tip and tax, we ended up spending almost $43 for a meal that the more frugal diner could have gotten for $10 at Carl’s Jr.

On the other hand, you can’t get this kind of food at Burger King; there are no seared Ahi salads at Norm’s, no sweet potato fries at Wendy’s.

The décor is a pleasing blend of historic and modern, with a large patio for outdoor seating and dining al fresco. The clientele was a mix of hipsters, office workers and seniors. The service was friendly and helpful.

If you’re having trouble scraping together a few crumpled dollar bills and lint-covered quarters for a meal, this is not the place for you. But if are willing to peel off a couple of Andrew Jackson’s for a terrific lunch or dinner, this is a place to try.

Umami Burger is located at 338 South Anaheim Blvd. in Anaheim. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Call (714) 991-8626 for reservations. Website:

INTERIOR of Umami Burger, including the spacious bar (OC Tribune photo)>


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