Umami Burger is just about ready to open doors at its first-ever location in New York City. The new branch is a sleek, modern space in the West Village, with cement floors, funky burger-shaped neon lights and cool black-and-white photos of the neighborhood (and umami inventor Kikunae Ikeda) on the walls. At first glance, there don't seem to be nearly enough tables to handle the crowds this no-rez spot is sure to get, but don't worry - there's a second level coming soon.
The menu is, of course, packed with flavor - mostly that indescribable "fifth taste" that gives the chain its name. There are Umami classics like the The Original Burger (topped with shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, house ketchup and a parmesan crisp) and the oh-so-popular Truffle Burger (topped with roasted garlic aioli, house truffle cheese and truffle glaze), plus dishes that were created exclusively for the New York branch, like the Five-Spice Duck Burger, a duck patty topped with Chinese five-spice powder, Madagascar pepper, garlic aioli and peach-apple chutney. To accompany the burgers, there are sides like truffle fries, tempura onion rings and beer cheddar-filled "cheesy tots" (which are part of the chain's "secret menu" since they always sell out too quickly if they're listed).
And then there are the cocktails, which also pack a heavy flavor punch. The Village Mojito, for example, is a twist on a classic mojito with hints of coconut milk and chipotle, while the 21-U Club is a tribute to the birthplace of the Bloody Mary (NYC's 21 Club restaurant) with a hearty sprinkling of savory umami dust. There's also a cocktail named for NYU's mascot, the Bobcat, which features cognac mixed with black cherry soda and lemonade, a combination that surprisingly yields a taste similar to a spiked Arnold Palmer.
Umami's 19th location opens at 11 AM on Monday, June 29 - better line up early! (432 Sixth Ave., 212-677-8626)