Japanese meets American fast-food, a marriage made in heaven?
After attending a wedding in this part of town, we made best use of this opportunity to finally try Ume (pronounced U-me) Burger, our first ever meal in the Barangaroo precinct!
There’s something special about the whole Barangaroo area, we’ve checked it out when it first opened to the public like 2 years ago. And at that time, it felt semi-incomplete. However, now that most residents and businesses have been calling this place home for a couple of years, everything feels nice and established, while still having that nice and fresh feel about it! Lining Wulugul Walk, set back far enough from the path not to hear the foot traffic, while still close enough to the action to get the hub-bub, are all the restaurants facing out to the water. The Ume Burger counters were nearly empty by this time (2.15pm) so we simply studied their menu, and stepped up to the polite Japanese waitress and made our orders.
For me, I ordered the Menchi Katsu burger ($14.80); my wife ordered the Fish Katsu burger ($15.00); a regular serving of the Hot chips ($3.20); and a house made Strawberry vanilla soda ($6.00) to share.
And after taking our table number, we found ourselves some seats in their dining area and took in the Ume/Barangaroo atmosphere for the first time. The dining area is all under cover, but with high ceilings and the angle of the sunlight, it felt like we were sitting in the open air. Just like King Street Wharf or Darling Quarter, but everything was just that little bit newer and less run down?
The house made Strawberry vanilla (with strawberry puree and vanilla bean) was bottled and it was nice – a cross between a natural fruit juice and a soda. Not too sweet, with subtle flavours, and thirst-quenching. A little pricey at $6, but still worth it! (Even if it only inspires us for a future ‘Drink of the Month’ creation).
And in less than 10 minutes our burgers and fries were delivered to our table.
My Menchi Katsu burger consisted of handmade pork katsu, mild mustard, tonkatsu sauce, mayo, Spanish onion and shredded cabbage. Me-thinks it’s all in the wording of the menu that makes food sound a little bit classy! Although stripping it down, it was basically a twist on the humble McDonalds McChicken burger. The burger itself wasn’t all that large but it was tall. To fit it in between top and bottom teeth, a bit of compression of the fluffy brioche bun was required, and once you got your teeth wrapped around it, it was very easy to get a bite with all the fillings! As mentioned before, it’s all about the use of words in the description, “hand made pork katsu” sounds a lot classier than “minced pork”, which is basically what the protein was. But it was covered in a thin katsu crumb, seasoned perfectly with pepper – reminded me of the flavour profile of a McChicken burger. And all of the onions and cabbage were fresh, although I didn’t taste much of the mustard sauce.
When my wife and I swapped bites, her Fish Katsu burger (hand-crumbed fish fillet, Japanese tartare sauce, iceberg lettuce and cheese) was quite flat in comparison. Like a Macca’s fish burger, and the actual crumbed fried fish fillet was particularly thin. The strongest flavour was from the cheese, and again it felt like taking a Fillet-O-fish, and making small modifications by replacing the usual ingredients with something Japanese-y.
Mean while, the fries were your standard affair, not shoe-stringed nor thick cut, but it had a dusting of umami seasoning …..Sorry, I forgot to add its full menu description, with “natural umami seasoning”. Again, the only Japanese twist on the standard hot chips were the seasoning – hard to describe, but it was nice, a little earthy tasting?
And when we were done with our meals, we took a leisurely stroll back to our end of da city, and that was a nice way to while away the late afternoon.
Our end verdict, 3.5 Stars from 5. (2 from 3 for Food (the burgers were good enough, they weren’t amazing, but good enough. While the Japanese twists on basically the McDonalds’ menu was unique, I can see it falling out of favour quite quickly); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were both polite and efficient); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (although their musical playlist was only loud enough to be heard by the staff situated behind the service counter, who really needs music if you’ve got harbour views right in front of you!); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for Money (we’re pretty used to paying $15 for burgers, but for the fish burger at least, it was a little small and unsatisfying for that price point)).
In conclusion, Japanese and American are common bedfellows, however as cuisines….. Maybe not a marriage made in heaven, but a marriage of convenience? Everything was tasty, and the pairings felt normal, none of the combos felt too weird. But perhaps what we were looking for, was something weirder? As in the end, the burgers were a little bit forgettable. But at least arriving long after the lunch rush, we didn’t have to wait (thus avoiding what irked many Foodies before us). To be honest, I don’t think we’ll be back; been there, done that. It’ll be interesting to see how they stack-up against our other popular Sydney burger joints, when we put Ume Burger through the burger scorecard!
Ume Burger- Saturday 3 August (3.5 Stars)
PH: 8195 1920
Wulugul Walk, Barangaroo
Sun-Wed 11.45am – 9.30pm
Thurs 11.45am – 10pm
Fri 11.45am – 10.30pm
Sat 11.45am – 10pm