Umami Burger's Continued Expansion Includes Breakfast

Started in Los Angeles in 2009, Umami Burger has been named Burger of the Year by GQ, Best Burger in America by Men's Journal, and one of the 25 Most Innovative Consumer Brands of 2016 by Forbes' CircleUp25. With high praise like that, it is not surprising that the chain grew outside of the City of Angels to 26 locations around the United States and Japan. Also notably, Umami Burger's founder, Sam Nazarian, is the man behind sbe, a privately-held hospitality company that oversees restaurant brands including Katsuya, Cleo, The Bazaar by José Andrés, Fi'lia by Michael Schwartz, and Skybar.

On behalf of The Daily Meal, I spoke with Umami Burger's Chief Operator Officer and executive chef Gregg Frazer about the company's expansion into New York. Umami Hudson is the brand's first Empire State hotel restaurant – with a menu designed by Frazer – and the location also features exclusive breakfast sandwiches.


The Daily Meal: The new Hudson Hotel location is the first New York hotel for Umami Burger. What led to that location being chosen and why is it a great fit for Umami Burger?

Chef Gregg Frazer: The Hudson Hotel and Umami Burger are both part of the sbe family, and we thought the space in the Hudson Commons area was a perfect fit for the restaurant — not only to offer a quick and delicious option for guests, but also to add a great restaurant to Manhattan's Midtown and Hell's Kitchen neighborhoods.

Tell me more about the exclusive breakfast sandwiches. What makes them different from the typical breakfast sandwich?

We have four breakfast sandwiches exclusive to this location that stand out from the usual bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich because we use additional ingredients to maximize and enhance the umami flavor. For example, our Ohayo Umami is made with an organic over-medium egg, parmesan frico, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, shiitake mushroom, and umami ketchup, all of which have intense umami properties. Our miso-maple bacon further highlights the umami flavor and showcases the culinary sensibilities Umami Burger was founded on.


I dined at Umami a few times in Los Angeles. For someone who has not been there before, how would you describe the restaurant?

For those who haven't been to Umami Burger, I would say they are in for more than just a meal — they're in for a social dining experience. Umami Burger is a premium burger restaurant that does everything it can to stick to its founding principles: being innovative and making delicious food. We make everything in-house, from grinding and packing the premium ground beef for the patties, to mixing sauces for our signature thin fries. And most of all, we focus on the umami or "the fifth taste," which adds a whole new element to a regular burger.

In addition, each Umami Burger experience is unique and authentic to the location. We're known for dynamic interior and exterior design at each restaurant and strive to offer our diners social dining spaces. For example, Umami Hudson has communal tables and couches for groups to enjoy leisurely meals, along with an oversized, walk-up order window where diners can see the kitchen in action. Adding to the vibrant atmosphere is a custom floor-to-ceiling mural by a contemporary artist, whose work is inspired by iconic New York City scenes. Umami Burger also sets itself apart from other burger restaurants because most of our locations offer a full bar with signature cocktails to complement the flavor-rich dishes.


What is the significance of the name of the restaurant? Is it true that "umami" is slang for "delicious" in Japanese?

Umami Burger was founded on this idea of "umami," or the fifth taste, which is entirely what the restaurant focuses on; it is our base principle for every recipe. We strategically use ingredients like truffle, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, miso mustard, and others that we know are rich with umami, which loosely translates to "deliciousness" in Japanese.


Do you have a favorite item on the Umami Burger menu?

My favorite is the Manly Burger, topped with house beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked salt onion strings, Umami ketchup, and mustard spread.


Beyond possible expansion, what is coming up for Umami Burger?

We are constantly in the kitchen working on new menu items. In May, our Southern California locations made Umami Burger the first ever multiple location burger restaurant to serve the Impossible Burger, which is an entirely plant-based patty that smells, tastes, looks, and even "bleeds" like ground beef. We just launched the Impossible Burger in Northern California as well and are excited to see where else we can take it. We also just introduced our first boozy milkshakes, exclusively at Umami at The Grove in Hollywood, California, and plan to make them a staple.


When not busy with Umami Burger, how do you like to spend your free time?

I have a great job where I get to have a lot of fun all the time, but when I am not working I enjoy playing guitar or heading outside for a quick run.


Aside from your company, do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?

New York has so many fantastic options. I just recently tried a new restaurant called Danji, right by the Hudson Hotel, and it was great.


Finally, Gregg, any last words for our readers?

Umami Burger's menu is always reaching new heights as we work to consistently develop innovative dishes to give diners a new experience each time. Be sure to always check on social media (@umamiburger) or on the Umami website at to find out what the latest creation in your nearest Umami Burger is, as most locations offer exclusive burgers and secret menu items.