This is a friendly neighborhood restaurant, with burgers and dogs, cheese fries and chicken sandwiches. But take a closer look, and more importantly, take another bite, and you quickly realize that this isn’t your typical neighborhood restaurant. This is Umami in Northwood, New Hampshire.
“Everyone here is very friendly. It feels like you’re coming home. And the food is amazing.”
“So the food is fresh, it’s local, it’s made with love. It’s totally orgasmic.”
Umami is a Japanese word that means “savory”. It’s a fifth taste sensation, along with sweet, spicy, sour, and salty. And every dish on the menu is positively packed with umami, thanks to executive chef Zach Squier.
Zack Squier – Executive Chef: “The food here is more like a new American Asian fusion comfort food, food that normally you wouldn’t eat on a burger, but we try and present it that way. Absolutely. I’m trying to basically bring umami to every dish. That savory, meaty food bliss that people love.”
Along with his brother Bobby Graves and their parner Jess Belair, Umami was designed to be a quirky, comfortable, farm-to-table spot where everything from the food to the atmosphere is locally-sourced and completely sustainable.
Bobby Graves – Co-Owner, Umami: “Umami Restaurant is a gathering place to have a culinary experience that is unlike any other in the area. We took an old building that was just studs, and tore down an old 1806 colonial to repurpose it into this building. All the walls, the exposed beams, all the tables are repurposed, You walk in the door, it’s a big open, you walk in, look at the menu, order at the counter, someone brings you your food. The vibe that we create is festive, non-sterile. It’s vibrant. It’s farm fresh and very grassroots. We just wanted to create a very festive, comfortable atmosphere and I think we did.”
So, the food listed on the chalkboard menu is sourced from farms right down the road. But the flavors are inspired by Japanese and Korean ingredients, always focused on achieving the ultimate umami experience. And that starts with the signature grass-fed burgers, griddled with some duck fat so they stay nice and juicy.
Bobby Graves – Co-Owner, Umami: “Burgers are fun. Locally sourced, made from scratch, made with love.”
“Best burgers in the state. Probably in the country.”
Zack Squier – Executive Chef: “Our beef is raised 20 minutes down the road in Dover, New Hampshire from Paradise Farm. They’re smash burgers, so they’re cooked on a flat top, seared, nice and crispy.”
“Oh my gosh, the burger is the best burger I’ve ever had. They have a variety of different things that go on them that all go together, hence the name of the restaurant Umami… It’s so good you just want more.”
There’s the flagship Umami burger, which is like a gourmet, hand-crafted Big Mac. The Belly Burger packed with Chinese 5 spice, pork belly, duck fat onion rings, and a Sunny Farm egg. And the Smack Burger with short rib confit, macaroni and cheese, and house made Fresno chili hot sauce.
Bobby Graves – Co-Owner, Umami: “Smack burger is a lot of fun. I like the creaminess of it. It’s got a little bit of spice to it.”
Zack Squier – Executive Chef: “You get salty from the cheese, you get a little sweet from the confit short rib, the hot sauce has a very good kick.”
Fries always go great with a burger, but their hand-cut, tempura style, duck fat fries are so good, then can take center stage.
Bobby Graves – Co-Owner, Umami: “Our fries are fresh. Right now we’re getting them from Fryeburg, in the summertime we get them right down the street, pulled out of the ground, fresh every day. We wash the dirt on them, we hand press them, we blanch them, we fry them in fresh oil and they are delicious. They’re crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. People go crazy over the French fries.”
And they come in crazy flavors, like the Hot Fries with sriracha aioli, Cheese fries smotheredin a house made cheddar sauce, and the indulgent Hanzo Fries layered with short ribs, kimchi, sesame and scallions.
The Hot Dogs are addictive and creative as well, featuring high quality, quarter pound smoked franks that are nice and snappy, in combinations like the KTown Dog featuring caramelized kimchi, shishito pepper and scallion cheese sauce, and Korean pickles. Or, you might want to order the short rib grill cheese on miso scallion bread. And you definitely don’t want to miss the sweet and gingery Korean style fried chicken sandwich. The unique “Chicken and Dumpling Sandwich” which adds in a flavor-packed layer of pork and leek dumplings that has been smashed on the grill. And for brunch, there’s a Chicken and Waffle sandwich nobody can resist.
Zack Squier – Executive Chef: “Chicken n’ Waffles might be my favorite dish I’ve every created here. It’s a cheesy, scallion, waffle, turned into a grilled cheese. Inside that you have your Korean fried chicken with a sweet ginger Korean glaze, sunny fried egg, local organic egg on top with a hot honey, chili infused honey. It’s just food bliss, some of the best things you’ve ever tasted. When you eat that sandwich, you’ll come back every Sunday.”
Customers definitely are coming back, and they’re coming from all over.
Bobby Graves – Co-Owner, Umami: “It’s worth it. It’s worth the trip, we are right between Portsmouth and Concord. I knew that if this was gonna succeed on any level, which it really is getting there, we had to become a destination. If you’re heading to Umami, taking a trip off the beaten path your expectations will be overly exceeded. Blown away.”
284 1st New Hampshire Turnpike
Northwood, NH 03261