When Umami Burger first opened on Sixth Avenue, I was skeptical. As a burger enthusiastic, I thought it was just another trendy, over-hyped restaurant with a short lifespan. I was so wrong. Now, I regularly find myself seeking excuses to convert the uninitiated.
Very knowledgeable and conscientious wait staff are great at listening to dietary concerns and helping diners pick appropriate selections. I can't eat the burgers, but I love, love, love the fried chicken sandwich, hands down the best chicken sandwich I've ever consumed in my lifetime. Instead of lettuce, which frequently becomes wilted and droopy when coming into contact with a hot piece of chicken, Umami uses shredded cabbage. When combined with the sauce placed between the chicken and the bun, the cabbage transforms itself into coleslaw inside the sandwich. Genius!
The chicken is obviously fresh and expertly fried. I cannot commend whomever runs the frier too highly. They are obviously extremely skillful. Buns appear to be all brioche-style, which withstands condiments better than the average burger bun.
As far as atmosphere goes, I had inaccurately predicted loud conversations and pulsing, annoying music playing too loudly. I was wrong about that too.
In summary, if you like burgers and other sandwich-y things, give Umami try. It's not as cheap as many other burger-slinging enterprises, but you're paying for quality and it's worth every penny.