Photo credit: Umami Burger and Lally Barnes

sbe’s premium burger brand, Umami Burger, recently unveiled a redesigned menu led by Umami Burger Chief Operating Officer and James Beard Award-winning chef Nate Appleman. As part of the evolved menu, which includes more vegan options, reimagined classics and a range of new items, the brand has committed to only using hormone and antibiotic free meat in its restaurants. 

The refreshed and condensed menu features all-new food items such as the shareable Cauliflower Bites and Chicken Tender Bites, new sauces with vegan options and salad creations such as the New Style Caesar and All Green Everything.

The menu still features Umami mainstays such as the namesake Umami, topped with crispy parmesan and shiitake mushrooms; Sam’s Crispy Chicken—chicken breast topped with creamy colseslaw, dill pickles and ‘ooh mami’ sauce; and all burgers feature protein options made from hormone and antibiotic free meat on a handmade, artisan vegan potato bun. 

During my visit to the Pasadena location, I experienced the new menu firsthand. This location on one of the main drags of Old Town at 49 E. Colorado Blvd. features a décor with ball-shaped hanging lights (some with utensils shaped around the globe), wood floors and large windows—one of which proclaims an appropriate slogan about the new menu: “The best just got better.” 

One of the best attributes of this location is Supervisor/Server Eddie Park. He initially got a part time job while in school and has worked here for three years. And, as he exudes enthusiasm and passion for his job, is the ultimate ambassador for Umami Burger. Commenting on the reason for his longevity, Eddie said, “I always liked Umami Burger and the high quality offered. I like the friendly, home feeling and have fun coming here and appreciate how the corporation is really good to employees.”

Umami Burger was one of the first restaurants to offer a vegan Impossible Burger and its new and improved 2.0 Impossible Burger is now gluten-free (the previously version had a bit of wheat in it) and is already proving quite popular. My wife Lally, who after trying pretty much every option available, has become a connoisseur of Impossible Burger options, and after our visit proclaimed Umami’s version the best she has experienced thus far. And, after trying each of several vegan burgers with her, I have to agree.

Another worthy offering is the Mishima Reserve Wagyu, which can be experienced in the Wag-Yu-Mami Burger topped with shaved cabbage, miso-honey mustard, sesame yuzu and kimchi mayo; or you can upgrade any burger with the superior beef for $3. 

Those who love truffles will not want to leave without enjoying the Truffle ‘Em Fries, which are 3X truffle-ized with truffle cheese, truffle salt and truffle glaze. 

Anyone who loves a good milkshake needs to check out the Shake It Up! menu with the likes of Salted Caramel, Triple Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Vegan Cookies and Cream (made with cashew milk ice cream). If you still have room for dessert, The UFO, reputedly voted the #1 Dessert in the Galaxy, is a unique offering containing a tempura fried chocolate filled oatmeal cookie topped with dulce de leche, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream.  

Umami Burger is known for offering an extensive beer selection and supporting local beer, and this location is no different, with local brew options of Golden Road 329 Days of Sun Lager and Eagle Rock Brewery Manifesto Belgium Witbier; as well as regional craft beers including Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (San Diego), Venice Duck Brown Ale (Venice Beach) and Towne Park Amber Ale (Anaheim).  

Umami Burger currently has more than 28 locations globally, including a strong presence in Southern California, with locations in Los Angeles, at LAX, Irvine Spectrum, Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Thousand Oaks, Hollywood, The Grove, Downtown LA, Los Feliz, Santa Monica and Pasadena. 

As part of the next phase of Umami Burger’s global growth, the brand plans to open new restaurants throughout the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and the Pacific region.  For more information on Umami Burger visit www.unamiburger.com or follow @umamiburger or #umamiburger on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.