Friday, March 12, 2010

Post 13: Oooh... Umami Burger (LA: Sunset)

While continuing the quest for a stable, full-time job I stumbled across a unique job posting in the food/beverage/hospitality section of Craigslist: FOOD TOUR GUIDE.  Whoooooah.  Not only is food the love of my life, but I had been a campus tour guide at school for almost the entirety of my college career.  This was THE job for me. 

I applied for the job right away, and long story short, I am now the tour guide for the Arcadia food tour for Six Taste, a growing food tour company founded by two recent USC graduates.  The tours are on Sunday mornings, and guests get the opportunity to experience some authentic Taiwanese tastes.  The anchor of the tour is the ever-popular dumpling house Din Tai Fung, arguably a favorite of millions (also a favorite of Sir Oolong Milk Tea, posted March 26).

As one of the newly hired recruits at Six Taste, I hadn't met the rest of the tour guides yet.  The founders Jeff and Alex gathered us at Umami Burger on La Brea for our first company get-together.  Imagine about a dozen twenty-somethings (and a couple of slightly older twenty-somethings, but you can't really tell just by looking) sitting at a round table.  It's their first time at Umami Burger.  There is a vibe of excitement.  They are all foodies, and they have a natural energetic, effervescent, and enthusiastic aura.  Many of them are food tour guides, true professionals of the culinary kingdom who live to eat, and eat to talk about their experience.

Okay, scratch all that.  There was a group of food tour guides who were all restless and hungry.  Pure pandemonium.  When the waiter arrived to take our order, he exclaimed, "Oh, God... food tour guides?! Shit..." If the food tour guides weren't listed under the definition of enthusiasm in Webster's, then the server definitely was.  He looked directly at me and pointed, "This one must be the giddy one!"

Enough about the people.  Here's the food:

The Umami Burger.  The classic.  A petitely portioned patty of pure beef pleasure, placed on an ever-so-lightly toasted bun and topped off with a smooth portabella cap.  But here's what makes it so uniquely delicious: the cheese shreds (is it parmesean?) that have been heated to an intertwined crisp.  Holy cow.  This simple cheese crisp makes all the difference upon the first bite, the second bite, and all bites thereafter.  

Nakhon Lager.  Umami Burger's house brewed beer from jasmine rice.  Where else can you find beer brewed from rice at a burger joint? Definitely unique.  Crisp, refreshing, and not too heavy... similar to what I taste from an Asahi or Kirin.  Other than the foil being hard to peel off the mouth, it's good stuff.

Burgers and beer are a perfect pairing.  Nothing like grilled meat and some cold beer to wash it all down with.  But what's even better are these:

Sweet potato fries.  These fries completed the tremendous trifecta of tastiness.  Beer + alcohol + more fried carbs could be a perfect final meal if I were ever on Death Row.

The onion rings.  Wow.  When they first arrived, I thought... man, those must have been some Olympic-sized onions that they cut the rings from... look at those things! Notice the size of the rings in comparison to the bottle of beer.  There are only about half a dozen rings in the plate, but these bad boys are definitely about the quality over quantity.  Lightly fried to a golden crisp in possible beer batter with a good proportion of onion to batter.  Yum.

The ice cream sandwich.  There's always room for dessert! (It may be why the burgers are palm-sized.)  The outer layer of the ice cream sandwich is a like a frozen Girl Scout Thin Mint with the thickness and hardness of toffee or a candy cane.  Sandwiched in between the cookies is a chilly and sweet mint chocolate chip ice cream that is heavy on the mint and light on the chocolate chip.  The first impression I had of this was that... it's very... GREEN.  Your impression too, I assume.  But oooh, it's good.

Cake Monkey Desserts.  What is that? Nicole, our tour guide of the San Gabriel Valley, asked our waiter what a cake monkey dessert actually was.  In response the server said, "A cupcake or Ding Dong on crack."

A cupcake on crack? Not quite.  This is just the outer layer, but don't judge a cupcake by its chocolate-covered goodness.

THIS is what's inside.  A red velvet and raspberry cupcake, complete with cream cheese frosting... and of course, covered in a thick layer of congealed chocolate.  A definite good end to a great meal.

All of this great food has made the tour guides quite happy.  Come check out the tours if you get a chance! Until next time, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

ML - 20100327/20100301

1 comment:

  1. Please take me to Din Tai Fung AND Umami in September!
    ^_^ -Cherie