For the longest time, most people believed that there were only four kinds of flavor: sweet, salty, sourness and bitterness. Things changed when a Japanese chemist named Kikunae Ikeda determined that there is actually a fifth kind of taste. He named this flavor “umami,” which sounds like a cool word but the etymology for it is boring as he just mashed the Japanese words for “delicious” and “taste” together. He may have been a genius for isolating the umami/savory taste sensation but he wasn’t a genius in naming things.
Anyway, why am I bringing up the history of the word umami today? Well, it’s because the word is in burger that’s the subject for this week’s entry of Burger Month. Specifically, it’s from Lazy Burger and it’s called the Umami Burger. Probably like Kikunae Ikeda, the folks at Lazy Bastard thought they were being all creative with the name when they weren’t. Then again, does the burger actually have the desired level of savory to actually be called an Umami Burger? Let’s go find out!
The biggest reason why I decided to go try one of the burgers at Lazy Bastard is because their burgers get some high marks. At least, that’s what I was able to see online whenever I look for the best burgers in the Metro Manila area. For the most part, I did go in blind and not have any knowledge with what specialty burgers Lazy Bastard offers. I like doing it this was because I do want to be surprised and not have any preconceptions. I knew the place got glowing recommendations but I wanted to keep an open mind and not get influenced by what people said.
Now, the nearest Lazy Bastard location is in Makati and it’s along Jupiter. It’s not that hard to find as there is a huge sign proudly declaring that there are burgers and bacon waiting for you if you just follow the arrow. I guess Lazy Bastard really needed the humongous sign as the entrance is nestled to the side. Strangely enough, it’s actually hard to see the name of the burger joint as it’s definitely not as prominent as the sign. Just keep this in mind if you’re planning to go there.
Lazy Bastard’s burger offerings is actually kind of sparse. Despite the sign saying that they have bacon, the only burger that did include bacon was the bacon cheeseburger. As much as I love bacon in my hamburger, it didn’t catch my interest. The thing that did was the Umami Burger as, well, umami is supposed to be a rich flavor and something that will tantalize the taste buds. The Umami Burger doesn’t actually seem to be anything special as it’s a burger topped with cheese, mushrooms and caramelized onions. But if I told you the cheese in the Umami Burger was actually gruyere, a cheese that is a little more flavorful than your typical cheddar or American cheese. This sealed it and, well, it says “umami” in the name! I just had to put the Umami Burger. I also got a side order of onion rings. I generally like onion rings more than fries but only if they’re well made. More on that later.
After ordering and waiting for a few minutes, I got my Umami Burger with side order of onion rings. Now, the initial presentation of everything wasn’t all that good. Lazy Bastard is almost true to its name as they don’t really do all that much to make things look presentable. Despite having a fancy name, the Umami Burger was just wrapped in a wad of foil and the onion rings came in a plain brown paper bag. Lazy Bastard doesn’t work hard to make their food look delicious but, you know what? I kind of like the plain look! But I did have to take pictures of the food and my plate wasn’t exactly photogenic. I did take them out of their packaging to make them look a little better. Sure, the burger looked smushed but… at least you can see it?
Looks aren’t everything when it comes to food but, in all honesty, the Umami Burger didn’t all that impressive. When I say “didn’t look impressive,” I mean that it didn’t look as good as I expected. The Umami Burger costs 320 Php, which was reasonable considering the size. But I do wish it was handled with a little more care. The bun looked like someone pressed down on it. I guess this could be because it was wrapped really tightly in the foil wrapper but it just looked like someone really went to town with it.
What’s in between the bun, however, looked rather good because everything looked really good. The caramelized onions looked tender and soft. The mushrooms, although much less than I expected, looked like they were cooked well. I couldn’t really see the gruyere cheese, possibly because it melted. I think that’s what happened since there was a glistening coating on the burger patty itself. You can’t see it in the photo but it did look juicy and inviting in person. The only thing where I was kind of “meh” was with the beef patty itself as there wasn’t much to really look at. No grill or char marks of any kind. This made me kind of doubtful the Umami Burger was going to be good because, if the beef patty wasn’t going to be good, then the burger itself wouldn’t be good.
Thankfully, my fears and worries were alleviated the instant I bit into the Umami Burger as it does live up to the name. The entire thing was extremely tasty but never sickening as the flavors did come off smooth. Nothing really overpowered anything but you could still taste everything. The caramelized onions were sweet but not too sweet. You could also taste the mushrooms as well. I’m actually not sure if I tasted the gruyere cheese but there was a buttery taste that did kick in while I was chewing into it. Even the beef patty was juicy and full of flavor. The bun, despite its disheveled appearance, did hold together quite well. It managed to hold in the oils from the caramelized onions as well as the fat of the beef. My only real issue with the Umami Burger would be the texture of the beef patty as it did come off a little too chewy but nothing that truly distracted from how good it tasted.
Moving on to the onion rings, they were mostly good. There are a lot of places that do have onion rings in the menu but they don’t know how to make them properly. Most of the time, the onions inside the onion ring batter comes off as undercooked, meaning that you can bite through them cleanly. Other times, the batter doesn’t adhere to the onions properly, making them slip out once you do dig into them. Lazy Bastard’s onion rings do not suffer from this problem. Biting through them cleanly was no problem and there was no slippage of the onions. I did feel they were a little too greasy, though. This makes me wish I took a picture of the brown paper bag they came in as the entire bag actually absorbed a lot of the oil, making the bag quite fragile.
Overall, I was really impressed with Umami Burger. Like I said earlier, I’ve seen and heard a lot of good thing about the place and the burgers and it kind of does live up to the hype. I would even go so far to say it’s probably in my top 5 burgers I’ve ever eaten since starting my yearly Burger Month review. I will be returning to Lazy Bastard in the near future… but maybe I’ll skip the onion rings then.
Have you tried Lazy Bastard’s Umami Burger? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!