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Eat and Drink

We survived the Umami Burger Tasting Menu

When the invitation showed up in my inbox, I laughed first. A tasting menu, at Umami Burger??

But the laughter subsided and the crazy factor set in. I was being invited to try 8 burgers in one sitting, with 8 beverage pairings. I decided it was a opportunity that I just couldn't pass up.

The 8 burgers and 3 sides tasting menu is available at three Umami Burger locations in Los Angeles and at the Williamsburg location in NYC for $175 with beverages, $95 without. This is for four guests, $20 extra per person.

And so on a rainy Tuesday evening, four hungry editors found their way to Umami Burger in Williamsburg, ready for a culinary experience/ experiment. There were highs and lows. There were fears and hopes dashed. We made it to the end. Here is our story.

Course 1: Fried things

When the massive onion rings, sweet potato fries
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

When the massive onion rings, sweet potato fries and french fries arrived, we were excited. We were hungry! Assistant Features Manager Melissa Kravitz and Editor-in-Chief Nina Ruggiero preferred the sweet potato fries (try dipping them in the hot sauce, Kravitz suggested, an idea everyone was down with). Features Manager Georgia Kral, an onion (and onion ring) freak, had 2.5 of the malt liquor tempura battered rings.

Beverage pairing: real sugar Sierra Mist. Delicious!

Course 2: Truffle Burger

We all thought we'd be forced to eat,
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

We all thought we'd be forced to eat, or attempt to eat, a burger each. So that's 8 burgers per person. When just one truffle burger arrived, with instructions to cut it into quarters, we all breathed audible sighs of relief! The burger, with truffle fondue, truffle glaze, truffle salt and truffle aioli, is a flavor bomb. As this was the beginning of our adventure, we all finished our bites. Well, News Editor Caroline Linton didn't finish hers - the first sign of her eventual demise at the alter of Umami.

Beverage pairing: Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout. Bitter! Cut through the rich burger taste nicely.

Course 3: Manly Burger

When this bad boy arrived, covered with fried

When this bad boy arrived, covered with fried onions and lardons, we all knew we were in for trouble. But the night was early, and we dug into the fried and crispy bits with reckless abandon.

At this point in the meal, the conversation shifted to just WHO would enjoy this kind of over-the-top culinary experience. Caroline Linton said foodies, or "anyone who likes an eating challenge!" Melissa Kravitz said bros looking to outdo each other. Nina Ruggiero thought it was perfect for a "toned down bachelor party activity" or a girls' night - just what we were having!

Beverage pairing: maple bacon old-fashioned. Too sweet.

Course 4: Ahi Tuna Burger

The lightly seared but mostly raw tuna burger

The lightly seared but mostly raw tuna burger was a refreshing bite after the heavy and unctuous Manly Burger. Topped with daikon sprouts, crushed avocado, gingered carrot wisps and wasabi flakes and wasabi tartar sauce, it was a bit of California in Brooklyn.

The Ahi Tuna Burger, it should be noted, was Caroline Linton's favorite burger and the only one she finished.

Beverage pairing: Victory Golden Monkey Belgian-style ale. Fruity!

Course 5: Hatch Burger

The Hatch Burger was the favorite of resident
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

The Hatch Burger was the favorite of resident foodies Georgia Kral and Melissa Kravitz. Georgia loved the deep and idiosyncratic taste of the roasted hatch chilies, while Kravitz was drawn to the simple yet heady flavor. "The chiles, cheese and meat all complimented each other in a way that felt decadent without overdoing it," she said. The burger also came topped with house Cali cheese (like American but with more funk) and roasted garlic aioli.

Beverage pairing: blackberry swizzle cocktail with Old Rittenhouse Rye, Benedictine, mint, fresh blackberries, lemon and ginger beer. Refreshing!

Course 6: Greenbird

Another healthy (ish) course! The Greenbird, with a
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

Another healthy (ish) course! The Greenbird, with a turkey patty, was a favorite of Nina Ruggiero, because it was the least "guilty" thanks to all the veggies. The patty was topped with crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts and green goddess dressing.

Beverage pairing: 2013 Laurenz Gruner Veltliner (white wine). Crisp!

Course 7: Cali Burger

After course 6, all four editors were whining

After course 6, all four editors were whining and questioning whether life could possibly go on if we ingested anymore burgers and drinks. But the Cali Burger, with it's crisp butter lettuce, umami-rich roasted tomato, caramelized onions and house Cali cheese gave us just the hope we were looking for. The waiter said this was Umami's take on the traditional cheeseburger, and it was definitely in the Cali/ In-N-Out style. We all enjoyed it. But again, Caroline Linton could only manage one bite.

Beverage pairing: Spicy Mezcalrita cocktail, with Lunazul Blanco tequila, PAMA pomegranite liqueur infused with cucumber and serrano pepper, fresh juices and Xicaru Mezcal and Cointreau foam. Spicy!

Course 8: Throwback Burger

This was the toughest course for the whole
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

This was the toughest course for the whole group. We didn't think we'd be able to get through two more courses, and when the burger arrived, with its 2 patties, well, let's just say we were all painfully groaning. Nina Ruggiero felt #burgerwasted. Caroline Linton almost started to cry! "When the Throwback Burger arrived, I took a bite and just said 'it's delicious, but no, no I can't do it. I can't,'" she said. "I was totally the weakest link!"

The two patties were topped with white cheddar cheese, miso mustard, Umami house ketchup, soy pickles and minced onions.

Beverage pairing: real sugar Pepsi. Delicious!

Course 9: Umami Burger

Last but not least, the Umami Burger was
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

Last but not least, the Umami Burger was served. We'd all tasted this concoction before, so we weren't tripping over each other to get a piece. In fact, no one even wanted to take a piece! But we each managed one bite, and agreed it was delicious. The original Umami Burger is served with a Parmesan frico (crisp), shitake mushroom caps, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and Umami house ketchup. All ingredients are meant to boost the "umaminess" in the flavor. (Parmesan, mushrooms and tomatoes all have naturally occurring Umami.) It's a staple in the culinary burger lexicon.

Beverage pairing: 2013 Seghesio Zinfandel: fruity and rich!

A note on pairings: the tasting menu is available with or without the pairings. ($175/ $95). Nina Ruggiero said she enjoyed the pairings, but "the mixing of beer, cocktails and wine was a lot to handle."

We did it!

Our most memorable moments, from L-R:Nina Ruggiero, Editor-in-Chief:
Photo Credit: Umami Burger waiter

Our most memorable moments, from L-R:

Nina Ruggiero, Editor-in-Chief: "Looking around at the aftermath on that table and the murmurs of jealous co-workers as I came in this morning... thanks Instagram!"

Caroline Linton, News Editor: "I was so full afterward that when I broke out in a slight jog to catch the N train (up a flight of stairs ... it's still not impressive, I know), I had to put my head between my legs on the train. I made it home in one piece at least. At home was a bit a different story, but my bathroom doesn't judge me. At least I hope not. Here is a fairly accurate representation of my most memorable moment.

Melissa Kravitz, Assistant Features Manager: " The most memorable moments were: the presentation of each burger, seeing the cheese bubbling and all the different toppings was exciting, no matter how full I was getting

Georgia Kral, Features Manager: "The boost I felt at the end of the meal really impressed me. All of a sudden I got this jolt of energy, as if i'd reached the finish line of an intense race or had just accomplished something of great importance. But I think it was mostly the inner happiness I felt because it meant I could finally call dinner over!"


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