Umami Burger dropped a flavor bomb on Williamsburg yesterday, announcing at 4pm that it was giving away dinner to the first 150 people who signed up at its new location at 158 North 4th Street, off of Bedford Avenue. I happened to be nearby, so I put my name on the list. Ooo mami, It was finally time to pop my UB cherry and find out why exactly there’s always a wait at its Greenwich Village location.
Last night, the Williamsburg outpost, which opens tomorrow, had the vibe of a Koreatown sports bar, with ESPN playing on the tvs behind the long bar and a DJ pumping out jamz like Gwen Stafani’s “Keep On Dancin.” There was one nod to the local aesthetic: a ceiling installation of welded-together bike frames.
Our server was super eager to tell us how Umami burgers are all about the “fifth taste” after sweet, sour, bitter and salty. She also introduced us to a couple of new menu items that, at the moment, are exclusive to the Billyburg location.
First off, in the cocktail zone, there’s this old-fashioned containing bacon-washed bourbon, maple syrup, and orange bitters, garnished with a floater of candied bacon.
There’s a new side, as well: a sloppy, soggy mess of sweet-potato fries garnished with kimchi, goat cheese, scallion, and Korean ketchup.
And on the burger menu, there’s a new “K-BBQ” burger with gochujang (hot pepper paste) glaze, caramelized kimchi, sesame aioli, Korean ketchup, and scallion-cilantro salad.
After trying the K-BBQ burger and the original, which tasted overly mushy to me, I can’t say I “get” the cult around Umami Burger, but then yesterday I heard someone say they don’t get In-N-Out, so I won’t bother trying to talk people out of their love for this place. Personally I’m sticking to Dumont Burger, but if you want to #savorlife and bask in the branded-out future of Williamsburg, Umami Burger opens tomorrow right next to the new Sweetgreen. There’s a happy hour weekdays from 3pm to 6pm, consisting of $4 sliders, $5 draft beers, $6 wines, and $7 cocktails.