NORTHWOOD, NH – In Northwood, New Hampshire, you will find a friendly neighborhood restaurant, with burgers and dogs, cheese fries and chicken sandwiches. Take a closer look, and more importantly, take another bite, and you quickly realize that Umami is not your typical neighborhood restaurant.
“The food is fresh, it’s local, it’s made with love. It’s totally orgasmic,” one customer described.
Umami is a Japanese word that means “savory”. It is a fifth taste sensation, along with sweet, spicy, sour, and salty. Every dish on the menu is positively packed with umami, thanks to Executive Chef Zach Squier.
“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. 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 partner 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.
“We took an old building that was just studs, and tore down an old 1806 colonial to repurpose it into this building,” Bobby explained. “All the walls, the exposed beams, all the tables are repurposed. We just wanted to create a very festive, comfortable atmosphere.”
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. That starts with the signature grass-fed burgers, griddled with some duck fat so they stay nice and juicy.
“Our beef is raised 20 minutes down the road in Dover, New Hampshire from Paradise Farm,” Chef Zach shared. “They’re smash burgers, so they’re cooked on a flat top, seared, nice and crispy.”
There is the flagship Umami burger, which is like a gourmet, handcrafted Big Mac. The Belly Burger is packed with Chinese 5 Spice, pork belly, duck fat onion rings, and a Sunny Farm egg. The Smack Burger has short rib confit, macaroni and cheese, and house made Fresno chili hot sauce.
“You get salty from the cheese, you get a little sweet from the confit short rib, the hot sauce has a very good kick,” Zach described.
Fries always go great with a burger, but their hand-cut, tempura style, duck fat fries are so good, they can take center stage.
“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,” Bobby proclaimed. “They’re crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. People go crazy over the French fries.”
Those fries come in crazy flavors, like the Hot Fries with sriracha aioli, Cheese fries smothered in 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. You can order combinations like the KTown Dog featuring caramelized kimchi, shishito pepper, scallion cheese sauce, and Korean pickles.
You might want to order the Short Rib Grill Cheese on miso scallion bread. You definitely do not want to miss the sweet and gingery Korean style fried chicken sandwich. Try the unique Chicken and Dumpling sandwich, which adds a flavor-packed layer of pork and leek dumplings that has been smashed on the grill. For brunch, there’s a Chicken and Waffle sandwich nobody can resist.
“Chicken n’ Waffles might be my favorite dish I’ve ever created here,” Chef Zach said. “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, local organic egg on top with chili infused honey. It’s just food bliss.”
Customers definitely are coming back, and they are coming from all over.
“It’s worth the trip,” Bobby promised. “We are right between Portsmouth and Concord. I knew that if this was gonna succeed on any level, 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.”
You will find Umami at 284 1st NH Turnpike in Northwood, New Hampshire, and online at umaminh.com.
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