Williamsburg is certainly not hurting for, well, good burgers. We’re talking DuMont, Blue Collar, Burger Guru, Reynard, Action Burger, Pop’s and even the improbably named B.A.D Burger too. But while most draw the line at a slice of cheese here or a squirt of special sauce there, the neighborhood’s newest patty flipper isn’t nearly so abstemious. Because North 4th Street is now home to a doublewide branch of Umami Burger; the famed California chain dedicated to the no holds bars pursuit of the elusive fifth taste.
Which—considering umami transcends traditionally understood flavors of sweet, salty, sour and bitter, describing, instead, an intense, savory deliciousness — basically means a lot of bacon. And truffle oil. And beef, of course, for the burgers; well marbled and mixed with porcini mushroom powder (there’s also a disc of earthy black beans to appease vegetarians, ahi tuna for pescatarians, and turkey and avocado for pesco-pollos). And, special to the new Williamsburg outpost, plenty of funky, fermented kimchi as well, either piled on top of gochujang-glazed hamburgers, or ladled over a small mountain of sweet potato fries.
Even the cocktails and salads are subject to earnest umamification; there’s bacon in both the Old Fashioned and the Bloody Mary, whole heads of romaine lettuce sporting smoky char marks and white anchovies in the Caesar, and otherwise virtuous beets dolloped with a truffle-scented combo of ricotta and goat cheese. It certainly seems an unusual exercise in excess from a bunch of fun-in-the-sun Californians, not to mention for increasingly health-conscious Brooklynites, although the borough-specific décor does include a ceiling installation of disemboweled bikes from artist Avi Kendi, from Metal Dimensions on nearby Berry Street. Essentially, the overriding message is clear; resistance is futile in the face of maple-bacon fries, and shitake mushroom, truffle ketchup, roasted tomato and parmesan frico-topped Umami burgers.
Umami Burger Williamsburg, opening Thursday, March 12th at 158 N. 4th Street, Williamsburg