Umami Burger and 9021Pho
2200 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.  
Thousand Oaks
Umami Burger: 413-8626
9021Pho: 494-6633

Thousand Oaks: the land of enchantment. I’m not sure if that’s the actual slogan, but hey, why not? There’s a little ol’ place called The Lakes right off Thousand Oaks Boulevard, next to the Civic Center, that is a prime location for drinking, if you’re seeing a show next door or simply fishing for koi in the namesake pond.


9021Pho once could be found by the Costco off Lindero Canyon, but re-opened into a larger spot at The Lakes in August. New to the location, and to the small, five-restaurant chain centered in Beverly Hills, is a cocktail program that cannot be found at any other 9021Pho and that features some rather interesting cocktails.

The creative cocktail list features at least two fruit-centric martinis, including a cloyingly sweet version with lychee fruit. My personal favorite was reminiscent of a bloody mary, only in cocktail form: a tequila and sriracha sauce concoction with basil and cucumber that truly opened up the sinuses. This would be a perfect cocktail for those Sunday morning brunches or, as it were, with a bowl of hot Vietnamese pho noodle soup.

Right alongside 9021Pho is another L.A.-based chain: Umami Burger. The burger-centric restaurant has a well-rounded tap list for those of us who might prefer a few brews before catching an operatic performance.

Typically always on tap is the Allagash White, a wheat beer with a light citrusy finish from the great state of Maine. Alongside the classic Stone IPA is the Goose Island Matilda, a Belgian-style strong pale ale. My only qualm with this beer is that it’s technically owned by ABInBev, i.e., Anheuser-Busch, meaning the Goose Island craft brewery is technically not craft brew any longer.

But with the addition of a rotating tap handle, one can avoid dubious beer choices on moral grounds if one chooses to do so. Umami Burger also has quite a few bottles for sharing or sneaking down your pants for a trip to the Civic Center. Just don’t get caught or the ushers will put the boots to you.

Chris O’Neal needed a white russian after drinking sriracha sauce. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @agentoneal.