Burger Hai! Umami Hambaagu House in The Grove by Rockwell

Just about the same time two years ago, Paul and I went to the US for a quick R&R. During the said trip to   California, we were able to try a restaurant called Umami Burger and believe me, they just got to have the best burgers in town (or at least from those that we were able to taste). The flavor was just so intensely good that it left me in such a happy state days and months after. Just like the word umami which is Japanese for perfectly flavorful, Umami's burger was exactly that. It had all the right flavors that would make you want to close your eyes and savor one bite after the other.

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Here in Manila, there's a new restaurant at The Grove by Rockwell Land that shares a similar name -- Umami Hambaagu House is what it's called. The Grove is the up and coming premier property located right across Tiendesitas. At present, Starbucks Coffee has opened a branch there as well as Sunrise Buckets too. Expect more restaurants to follow suit in the coming months.

Umami Hambaagu House can be synonymous to CUTE! As you enter the restaurant, be ready to treat your eyes to a number of overly adorable Japanese decors. They have also installed LCD screens that show really funny Japanese sitcoms. I love the bright cartoon-like illustrations on the wall too.

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Take this floor to ceiling bookcase for instance. It's filled with black and white Umami tumblers that immediately suggests a very modern and young vibe.

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Here's one of the two display tables that showcases a couple of Japanese comics, a giant Pocky box and anime character dolls. Check out the colorful "say cheese" plates on the wall too! Cute cute cute!

Umami Hambaagu's menu is pretty straight-forward. First you choose the type of meat for your burger as they have it in beef / pork or chicken. Next, choose the type of burger steak. There are about a dozen different varieties but don't worry as they have devoted an entire page to describe each. All burger steaks come with a bowl of steamed Japanese rice, side salad, fat french fries and salted edamame. It's a complete and filling set, believe me.

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Paul had the Creamy Corn Soup (Php. 60) to warm his tummy before the burger steak battle begins. He found it quite thick and rich making it a tad too filling given that he still wants to save space in his tummy for the main dishes.

Since we both love burger steak and were having a hard time narrowing our choices down to two, we just got four different burger steaks to share that day. Easy solution, huh? :)

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The Naked One (Php. 290)
At first glance, I was 101% sure that this would be Paul's choice. He likes his burger plain and simple. The lesser the frills, the better. He was quite pleased with this one as he could fully appreciate the strong meaty flavor. Such a burger master Paul was that he was also able to immediately detect that this burger was not made with pure beef. Upon verification, he was right. Umami Hambaagu's burger steak is a combination of beef and pork. Nothing bad with that if you ask me, in fact, we liked the very Asian flavor that it gives.

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Takeshi's Castle (Php. 345)
This is perfect for those who loves Okonomiyaki or Takoyaki Balls. This burger steak is topped with bonito flakes, seaweed, Japanese mayonnaise and their special sweet sauce. This was also very good!

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Roppongi Hills (Php. 420)
I just got to the third item on the menu and I knew this was the ONE for me. Why? Three simple words -- TRUFFLE CREAM SAUCE. Sadly though, the truffle flavor was too weak that I had to concentrate really hard to taste it. It was creamy alright and I still managed to finish my burger steak but i wish they'd add more truffle oil next time.

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Yakuza's Choice (Php. 355)
Another choice of mine. If you noticed, I really love the creamy kind while Paul wants it simple. It really doesn't matter, as opposites do attract. ;) Anyway, the Yakuza's Choice was better in terms of having a sweet-spicy flavor brought about by the wasabi mayonnaise and having that roasted garlic on top made it even more.. umami! I love getting a piece of buttery-soft garlic out and spreading it on top of the burger before taking a bite. This one was really good and I think I'll be getting this again on my next visit.

Each set, as mentioned earlier, comes with a bowl of Japanese steamed rice. Now, for those who are trying to abstain from rice, take my advice -- make an exception here. Come on, we all deserve a break and Umami's burger steak goes perfectly well with rice. I also love the fresh Japanese salad with the ever-famous sesame mayonnaise dressing. Should you want more greens, feel free to ask any of their friendly servers.

I barely ate my fries though as the rice was heavy enough for me. However, Paul liked the fat, freshly cut fries which he happily polished off my plate too. In exchange for that, he gave me his edamame beans which I love love love.

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As for our drinks, I tried the Umami Natural Milk Tea (Php. 150) which was really yummy! I loved the sweet, milky flavor of this drink which was a good alternative to the iced cold milk teas out there. They serve this with a 3-minute timer as you have to wait for the tea to completely steep before pouring it into your cup.

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Paul tried the Green Apple Soda which was good and not overly sweet. This could be something even the younger ones will like.

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As we asked for the bill, look what landed on our table? A miniature grocery cart! These cute items can really put a smile on your face.

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In need of change? Just break the glass in case of emergency. Hehe..

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What a very filling yet delicious lunch at Umami Hambaagu House! I love the colorful and fun ambiance inside as well as the very serene environment outside. This is a good place to just relax and to have a good meal.

*photo credit: Paul Ang

Visit Umami Hambaagu House at The Grove by Rockwell, E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Quezon City (across Tiendesitas). Visit their Facebook Page here

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