My friend M is, in a word, lovely. She’s tall, gracious and wittily smart, and the best part of all is this layer of happiness that’s radiated from her since she met her husband-to-be, E. So when the occasion arose to celebrate with the bride-to-be and some So. Cal pals, I jumped on a plane and headed south.
Of course I had a few foodie fixes in mind.
Starting with - Umami Burger. I read a lot about this Burger of the Year winning restaurant (that’s coming to the Bay Area soon, yay!) named for the fifth taste. I was never good in science, but apparently along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter, umami is one of five tastes that the human tongue can identify.
A Truffle Burger (with housemade truffle cheese & glaze) for me, and my pal Whangers & Mash got the Umami burger, which has umani-laden toppings like shiitakes and parmesan cheese. Both were juicy, meaty, and the umami (which hopefully I'm correctly recognizing as a savory richness) was surprisingly pronounced. It wasn’t a huge burger and didn’t include the usual lettuce & tomato, but the flavors, textures and slight richness of the bun made it one of the most satisfying burgers I’ve ever had.
Malt liquor tempura onion rings and sweet potato fries were also quite tasty, and served with a trio of homemade sauces. We made sure to try the housemade umami ketchup, which was zingy, vibrant and a lot less sweet than what I’m used to, making me wonder just what exactly is in the ketchup in my fridge.
Also on the list was recommended Studio City noodle joint, Jinya Ramen. The last couple of bowls of ramen I’ve had were all pork-based, so it was a nice change to try Jinya’s lighter, but still tasty chicken-based broth. I loved it, especially with their slightly toothsome, al-dente-style noodles.
To accompany the ramen, we also ordered delightfully thin-skinned gyoza and spicy tuna rolls. A few of us also ordered a delicious soft-boiled egg which the waiter attempted to furtively tell through his teeth would be free if we checked-in on Yelp (we all pulled out our smart phones immediately).
It was a great trip, surrounded by the great company of great friends, coupled with great food. Most of all it was great to be there and see my shining friend M, as she begins this wonderful, magical chapter of her life with the one person I know she’s meant to grow old with. Congratulations, and love you, M!