Ultimate Umami Tasting Menu Challenge!

Burgers. They are practically a blank canvas that is merely defined by the toppings set upon it... do you agree? Not too long ago, I was presented a tasting challenge that revolved around the burger. It was simple... invite a few friends, share a few burgers and then discuss in between all the bites, sips and finger licks. Piece of cake, right? To join me in this tasting challenge, I summoned the 3 guys I know who love their burgers and have discerning tastes - Patrick, my brother John, and brother in law, James...  {don't let their silly faces and wacky behavior fool you!}

We were ready. We so got this.

The challenge: enjoy the Ultimate Umami Tasting Menu at Umami Burger. The meal consists of 10 paired courses: starters, 8 full sized burgers and dessert. Our strategy was to enjoy each course, but to also pace ourselves without feeling any obligation to finish single bite. That said, here we go...

COURSE 1: Starter trio paired with Real Sugar Mountain Dew

Not shown is the real sugar Mountain Dew. It was the perfect start having salty starters with a sweet drink. The first course included onion rings, sweet potato fries and Umami Cheesy Tots (which was from their 'secret menu'. We loved all the starters, but my favorite were the sweet potato fries. They were perfectly crisp and seasoned. I'm a sucker for sweet and savory combos lol...

COURSE 2: Truffle Burger paired with Yeti Imperial Stout

This burger was delicious and included shaved truffle, truffles aioli, truffle cheese, truffle glaze and was paired with a Yeti Imperial Stout. It may read like this burger was on truffle overload, but it really worked without being too heavy. 

COURSE 3: Manly Burger paired with Maple Bacon Old Fashioned

This burger was definitely a favorite of the table. Perhaps it was the familiarity of the flavors that were upgraded a bit - house beer cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked salt onion strings, and Umami house ketchup. The paired drink was the Maple Bacon Old Fashioned. The drink was made with bacon washed Evan Williams whiskey, maple syrup, orange bitters and garnished with candied bacon. Yes. Candied bacon. The drink paired nicely and besides, you can't  go wrong with bacon paired with more bacon, right?

COURSE 4: Ahi Tuna Burger paired with Victory Golden Monkey beer

If sushi could morph into a burger, this is what it would result in. The burger involved a seared ahi tuna patty, daikon sprouts, crushed avocado, gingered carrots, wasabi flake and wasabi tartar. It was such a creative take on a seafood based burger and I enjoyed it! As for the paired beer, the Victory Golden Monkey is a Belgian style tripel with herbal and fruity notes with a slight spice.

COURSE #5: Hatch Burger paired with a Blackberry Swizzle

If you like Hatch chiles, this is the burger for you. The burger was topped with roasted hatch chiles, house Cali cheese, and roasted garlic aioli. As a pairing, the Blackberry Swizzle was a delicious drink made with Old Rittenhouse rye, Benedictin,mint, fresh blackberries, lemon and topped with ginger beer.

COURSE #6: Greenbird Burger paired with Laurenz Singing Gruner Veltliner

Fans of turkey burgers would love this version! Made with a turkey patty topped with crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, and green goddess dressing. This burger was paired with a Laurenz Singing Gruner Veltliner. I found the wine to have some apple, peach and citrus aromas along with the typical Veltliner spiciness and a touch of white pepper. 

COURSE #7: Cali Burger paried with a Spicy Mezcalrita

This Cali burger was a nice combination of butter lettuce, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, house spread and house Cali cheese. To pair with this burger, why not something Mexican inspired like a Spicy Mezcalrita? The Spicy Mezcalrita was a classy concoction of Lunazul blanco tequila, PAMA pomegranate liqueur infused with cucumber and serrano pepper along with their fresh juices, then topped with Xicaru Mexcal and Cointreau foam.

COURSE #8: Throwback Burger paired with real sugar Pepsi

This burger was like 'Americana' to me. Two 3.5oz beef patties, white cheddar cheese, miso mustard, Umami house ketchup, and mustard spread was sandwiched in between their sweet Portuguese inspired hamburger buns. With the burger alone giving me a flavor blast, the best pairing was a real sugar Pepsi!

COURSE #9: Umami Burger paired with 2013 Seghesio Zinfandel

Finally, we get to the final burger and the one that started it all! Parmesan frico, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and Umami house ketchup top this glorious burger, To pair with it, a 2013 Seghesio Zinfandel was served and accompanied the burger perfectly!

COURSE #10: Hoosier Mama Key Lime Pie & Chocolate Pecan Pie

We made it to the end and finished on a sweet note! We split two slices of pie to cleanse our palates after the burger challenge. The pies were delicious. I mean, they are Hoosier Mama Pies, who make some of the best pies in Chicago!

Overall, it was a definitely a challenge and I'm thankful my guys ate through the very end. I would highly suggest order this menu to split among a few friends - make 5-6 friends because it was certainly a lot for even us four. The Ultimate Umami Burger Tasting Menu is a great way to try a variety of their signature burgers all on one visit. The tasting menu is fairly new as it was placed on Umami Burger's menu within the last month. If you do go and check out their tasting menu, be sure to allow 2 - 2.5 hours to get through the entire meni. If you opt for the paired drinks to accompany the burgers, it would be a good idea to take public transportation or have a designated driver. Those drinks sneak up on you! And lastly another tip, don't feel obligated to eat every single course. This is a delicious tasting after all!

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