Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Umami Burger

Apparently the recent (just 4 weeks ago) opening of Umami burger in NYC is a big deal – I had personally never heard of the California-based burger chain before, but I did hear people excitedly sharing rumors a few months ago, in anticipation of it’s NYC debut. But then I forgot about it, until my friend Evan worked on a video for Zagat TV about the popular burger place. All the burgers featured in that segment are meat-burgers, unsurprisingly. But Umami has a veggie burger too – and I felt inspired to go try it... assuming, of course, the wait was not 3 hours as I had heard it rumored to be!


I was in luck – I had a couple hours to spare before a meeting, so when I showed up just before 2pm, the wait for a single spot at the bar was only about 10 minutes! Couples arriving at the same time were told the wait for 2 people would be about 30 minutes.


Excited, I sat down at the bar, ready to place my order – from the “Un-Beef” section of the menu! But when I told the waitress I wanted the “earth burger”, she said “we don’t have any left today”. My heart skipped a beat. She must have noticed how devastated I looked at this news, because she then said “Let me double check that though...” and hastened off to the kitchen. When she came back, she said “We have two left!” and I breathed a sigh of relief. I wonder if these veggie burgers are proving more popular than they had anticipated?

The earth burger


The bun was deliciously light and sweet – almost like a pastry. Not soggy at all, and not too thick or dense to bite into, but it still held everything together well. The toppings were delicious – I had never had a burger with chili on it before, but this soyrizo chili was a surprisingly a great addition, and gave it a great spicy kick. The “fresh cilantro crema” didn’t really add much flavor for me, personally. But the guacamole beneath the patty was a nice, cool, creamy note to balance out the spicy chili (and a surprise element, since it wasn’t listed with the other toppings on the menu!) The whole thing was a really awesome flavor combination. Both the sauce and the bun contain dairy, although the waitress told me they offer a lettuce wrap instead of the bun, if you request it (and you could order the burger without the crema topping).


The patty, however, is vegan – an earthy blend of black beans, forbidden rice, and charred corn (although I didn’t really taste much of the corn among the beans and rice). It fell apart a bit, but was large enough that even after pieces fell out, there was still a substantial amount left between the buns. And I ate the fallen chunks with a fork, because they were too tasty to abandon.


Would it have been worth it if I’d actually had to wait in line for three hours? Well, I don’t know about that… I’ve never waited that long for any veggie burger, not even from The Cinnamon Snail on a really busy lunch day! …but it was one of the most delicious veggie burgers I have eaten. Yup, it’s another five-star veggie burger! And I now understand all the hype around Umami Burger...


Cost: $12.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 5      Toppings: 5

Umami Burger
432 6th Avenue
between 9th & 10th Street
New York, NY 10011

YumVeggieBurger review #108

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Burger Bistro


I bought a Living Social deal to Burger Bistro, so before it expired (I have a tendency to wait until the last minute on these things!) I made a trip out to Brooklyn to eat a veggie burger at this restaurant I had never heard of until I saw the Living Social email in my inbox one morning.


The menu was one of those check-the-items-you-want style ones, like at The Meatball Shop (I don’t know where they originated from, but that was my first experience with them). It was exciting having so many toppings to choose from! I picked the veggie burger (vegan), with guacamole, pickled jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo (not vegan) – all on a whole wheat bun (which is not vegan - if you want your vegan patty to be on a vegan bun, the only option here is the lettuce wrap). I also ordered a side of house-made chips, because I had Living Social bucks left to burn.


Hmm… my burger arrived with the “frizzled onions” instead of the jalapenos, but I had places to be after my dinner, and didn’t want to be late, so I didn’t complain. The onions weren’t bad, kind of like very fragile onion rings, or pieces of one of those “blooming onion” monstrosities. My burger was already pretty overloaded though, so I ate them separately. The rest of the toppings were tasty too – plenty of guacamole!


The patty was a nice blend of vegetables – carrots, corn, spinach, peppers, soy beans, and herbs. It had a unique flavor that I hadn’t tasted in a veggie burger before, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Unfortunately, despite its fried-to-a-nice-crisp exterior, the inside was quite mushy and it smushed together with the plentiful toppings and then oozed out of the bun.

The bun itself was way too dense and thick – trying to wrap my mouth around it only resulted in compressing the patty and toppings more, until they oozed out and I was just left with a mouthful of guacamole-soaked bun. It seemed slightly stale, too. I ate half of it, and then dissected the other half – eating the patty and the toppings with a fork, and leaving the bun on the plate.

My stomach was full the rest of the evening – so I certainly got my money’s worth from my Living Social deal. And that was from the burger alone - the homemade chips I had ordered as a side tasted delicious, but were way too greasy for me to eat more than a few.

Cost: $8.00 for just the burger with lettuce and tomato (total for my burger and toppings: $12.75), chips $4.25 extra
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 2      Toppings: 4

Burger Bistro
117 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
locations in Astoria, Bay Ridge, and the Upper East Side too, check website for addresses

YumVeggieBurger review #107

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Burger Club

It’s taken me awhile to check out Burger Club, even though it opened in my neighborhood last year. Why? I’m not sure, it seems like we’ve had a flood of new burger joints opening in the past couple years, and I guess there are just too many other veggie burgers that I know and love in Astoria, so it takes a lot to tempt me away from my favorites…

no, my camera didn’t flip the photo – that’s really how their sign is designed!

But I finally had a chance to stop in here one afternoon, and I was in time for their lunch special, which included their “farmer’s market burger”:


The patty is homemade, which I must give them due credit for. It contained a lot of beans, celery, carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, and onions, which all sound great – but it was too mushy. It would have greatly benefitted from being cooked a bit more until the outside was a bit crisp, and some of the carrot pieces inside were not fully cooked either, and were unpleasantly crunchy. The flavoring was actually quite nice though – I ate a chunk of the patty on its own, after it fell out of the bun, and I really enjoyed the way it was seasoned.


The toppings were generous – tomato, lettuce, avocado (a good amount, too, they didn’t skimp like some places do!), sprouts, red onion, and a Portobello – which I, mushroom-hater than I am, even enjoyed! (it was well-marinated). I skipped the goat cheese, but that is one of the toppings that is included, if you want it. The bun (wheat) was a bit too thick and dense to eat with all the patty and toppings inside. And it was surprisingly cold in temperature compared to the patty, as though it had just come out of the fridge, although it looked like it had been lightly toasted on one side.

While the staff told me the patty is vegan (and if you order it without the cheese, the toppings are vegan too), they said they did not know if the bun was vegan because they do not make the buns there. So, eat at your own risk if you are concerned the bun might have dairy in it.

I’ve heard other people mention that this place seems like it is trying to be Astoria’s next Bare Burger, and the similarities are certainly there – Burger Club definitely has an extensive and creative menu, it’s not just another boring burger joint. But Bare Burger’s veggie burger is still superior, in my opinion.

Cost: lunch special - $9.75 (burger, fries, and soda), regular menu - $8.25 for the burger, fries $2.75
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 2      Toppings: 4

Burger Club
32-02 30th Ave
on the corner of 32nd Street
Astoria, NY 11102

YumVeggieBurger review #106

Monday, August 5, 2013

Foodswings in the news

Wow! I'm catching up on my blog reading, and I just read this post on the SuperVegan blog about Brooklyn vegan restaurant Foodswings being for sale!

I hope this turn of events ends well for Foodswings... not only because they have a plethora of different veggie burger styles on their menu (I reviewed the Buffalo Burger here)...


...But because I really don't know how I would live without their amazing vegan chicken wings and milkshakes. Seriously, almost every time I go to Williamsburg, my friend Michelle and I make a point to either stop by Foodswings or Vinnie's Pizza for our vegan food fix. Not the healthiest vegan food in the world, but oh-so-satisfying and delicious!

So, someone awesome please buy this restaurant, and keep it alive! Please don't deprive me of my vegan milkshakes!