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Umami Burger's First Chicago Location Opens Thursday

By Staff in Food on Sep 17, 2014 7:30PM

Umami Burger is well-known on the West Coast for high-quality steak burgers packed with "umami," a Japanese loan-word that translates roughly as "savory." They accomplish this by loading all their menu items with foods known for their heavy umami tastes such as mushrooms and soy sauce. Their first restaurant in the Midwest opens Thursday, with plans to open 20 more restaurants across the region.

Umami Burger doesn’t just plan on making carbon copies of their West Coast shops in the heartland. If you have ever visited a Umami Burger restaurant, you know that each spot tries to capture the neighborhood it inhabits. Their Wicker Park location has an open airy atmosphere, complete with a 90-seat dining room and a full bar with craft beers on tap. The signature "Wicker Park" burger is still in the works and will be made with a Calabrian sausage patty, truffle cheese fondue and classic Chicago giardiniera.

And Umami isn’t just for carnivores. At a media preview, we had Umami Caesar Salad with an add-on of four generously-cut slices of fresh ahi tuna. The sides were nothing to scoff at, either. Manly Fries were topped with sautéed onions, bacon and cheese. The House Pickle Plate contains cucumber pickles, spicy carrots, teriyaki mushrooms and tangy beets.

But admittedly, Umami's main draw is the burger offerings. Their classic Cali Burger is served with butter lettuce, a slow-roasted tomato, their umami-infused house spread, American cheese and caramelized onions. The Ahi Tuna Burger is made with sushi-grade, hand-chopped ahi tuna topped with crushed avocado, daikon sprouts, pickled ginger and wasabi flakes.

Truffles are one of the most prized of all umami giving ingredients. It can be found here in the Truffle Burger, which is topped generously with house-made truffle glaze and truffle cheese.

The dessert menu allows you to take a break from umami with some classic sweets. The Coolhaus ice cream sandwich is a double chocolate chip cookie with rich peanut butter ice cream in the center.

Umami Burger opens this Thursday, though you may want to wait a few weeks for the sure to be lines around the block to die down.

Umami Burger Wicker Park is located at 1480 N. Milwaukee Ave.

By Lucy Rendler-Kaplan