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Dining Review: So-so hot dogs at Umami Burger, wonderful ice cream at Quenelle

August 27, 2013|By Lisa Dupuy
  • A blueberry ice cream cone at Quenelle in Burbank on Thursday, August 22, 2013.
A blueberry ice cream cone at Quenelle in Burbank on Thursday,… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

Hot dogs and ice cream: They’re not just for backyard barbecues anymore. Two new Burbank eateries have elevated the simple summertime treats to new heights.

The Umami Burger chain of restaurants has certainly been written about before. But what you may not know is that the newest location in Toluca Lake is trying something new. They’ve quirkily updated the bygone Papoo’s Hot Dog Show, adding chandeliers to the old Western theme and paying homage to the shop’s predecessor by offering a line of umami hot dogs. These creations are multiple layers of umami taste.

Umami is purported to be the fifth taste, engaging a mouth receptor that distinguishes meaty, earthy flavors. Think of sauteed wild mushrooms on grilled steak. Texture and a feeling of mouth fullness may play a role, but umami is strictly a neuronal appreciation of glutamates.

I think I’m missing the umami receptor or maybe I’m an umami super-taster, because I found these hot dogs unpleasant. The mouth feel was very fatty to me. I like crunchy raw onions or cold Thai slaw on my frankfurters. My male dining companions loved the hot dogs. I mean, really loved them.

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They loved the hatch dog, with its roasted green chilies and housemade American cheese. They loved the original dog, with Parmesan crisps, caramelized onions and roasted tomato. They loved the truffle dog, with garlic aioli, gooey truffle cheese and truffle-infused onions (all dogs are $5.50). I loved the iced tea.

It’s an unusual day when dessert is less rich than lunch. Zipping a couple miles down Buena Vista Street, we reached the brand-spanking-new ice cream spot, Quenelle, its chic storefront beckoning us from a less-than-chic strip of stores on Magnolia.

Quenelle is owned and operated by John Park, lately of the westside’s Lukshon and Father’s Office restaurants. As pastry chef there, he undoubtedly placed quenelles (small, football-shaped scoops) of homemade ice cream beside expensive desserts. Here in Burbank, you can get the same delicious ice cream in a dozen flavors with your choice of unique toppings for $4.50 and up.

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