Umami Burger has spawned a second location, now on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz, taking over for Cobras and Matadors. What's different at Umami #2? Booze and space primarily. The new Umami is about three times bigger than LaBrea's, with a large outdoor patio that is ideal for hoisting beers at those still stuck in afternoon traffic. Umami's Asian fetish has paved the way to The Salaryman, a sliver of a bar attached to the dining room, meant to evoke a Japanese after-work haunt with its soju and iichiko cocktails, and rice lager.
While telling us Umami #3 is still slated for Fred Segal in Santa Monica later this year and that a fourth Umami is being considered somewhere around Big Wang's, our barkeep broke down Umami's new liquor policy, which finds burger-stenciled jugs of draft beer (called "growlers") on sale for $22 and foil-necked bottles of house beer Nakhon for only $3.50. There are local microbrews as well as examples from Maine and Scotland, plus a wide selection of Japanese beers like Echigo Stout and Coedo sweet potato beer.
As for the menu, there's not a lot of new recipes on display, but the shiny new liquor license has created what the bartender calls "Adult Happy Meals," which are combo sets of a burger, fries, and beer or wine from $14-$16. A rainbow beet salad with truffle dressing was the one we special we spied, still hoping for a full menu of Umami-stimulators that veer off the burger course.
The staff is very attentive and still excited to break down how everything at Umami works, following a swift surprise opening last Friday. With more leg room and less wait time, and the added thrill of a small bar, the new Umami seems to have done the difficult in Los Feliz, providing a deeper and more immersive sequel for its crush of customers. At this rate, we say bring on Umami number three already!