Ummba Grill - Century City mall Brazilian joint
I am not one to frequent shopping mall food courts, but friends goaded me into lunch at the new Century City food court.
As sleek a setting as they've built, it's still not for me. I found ten different offerings that failed to spark my imagination or appetite. They deserve credit for a massive upgrade, and for one saving stroke of culinary counterprogramming.
Outside of the main food court hall, there is a semi-sitdown Brazilian churrascaria cafeteria line with a full bar. I know, it sounds bizarre. It kind of is.
Looking at the array of side dishes in the self serve line, I had vivid flashbacks to a summer exchange program to Brazil about 15 years ago. Each dish was more authentic looking than the next.
I ordered a roasted sirloin sandwich (big and meaty, though the beef was meh), a side of roasted lamb (the winner of the bunch, the best roasted lamb I've had in recent memory, do not miss it), and then piled a plate full of perfectly sweet, firm and hot plantains, and then built a grain-elevator sized pile of faroffa, a dish whose exact contents escape me. Perhaps it's an acquired taste, but faroffa as done at Ummba is a savory pile of lightly toasted breadcrumb-like grain, suffused with lots of smoky bacon. You have to chew, grind, inhale to fully appreciate it. The staff found it odd that I would choose it of all the available options.
In addition to the excellent lamb and overall authentic Brazilian grub, they serve a very, very, very (they warned me three times before serving it to me) spicy tomato/pepper salsa and delicious mild green sauce. This salsa ties the Lamb Frankie at Bombay Cafe for the "spiciest thing I eat voluntarily" award.
The pricing structure is a bit confusing at Ummba. I just closed my eyes and hoped not to get screwed. All of the above was between $20 and $30. Given the foodcourt options, I felt like I got the best possible meal for a pretty reasonable price.
They have a full bar outside with lots of plasma TVs. This would be a GREAT place to watch the next Brazil vs. anyone soccer match.
Check it out.
Thanks for the review. Have you tried the somewhat similar stand at the L.A. Farmer's Market called Pampas Grill? We thought that place was just so-so, and I was sort of assuming Ummba would be similar (if a little bit slicker-looking). Comparisons would be welcome.
I went there last week for the first time and was pleasantly surprised.
The pricing structure is odd. They have a few options: (1) sandwiches with a set number of sides for a set price; (2) meat of a set weight plus two sides for a set price; and (3) do it yourself -- as many types of meats and sides that you want -- at a per pound price. Of the three of us, two did the per pound option and the third had a chicken sandwich (which he enjoyed).
Per pound, the price depends on whether you want hot sides only, which i think was $6.95 per pound, or hot and cold sides for $8.95. I think there is a meat-only option for a bit more. Then you go through a cafeteria-style set-up with the sides and then reach a station where they will slice meats of your choice off the skewer.
I enjoyed it, thought some of the meat was on the salty side. Of the meats, I tried the alcatra, picanha, garlic beef, sausage, and grilled shrimp. Surprisingly, nothing was overcooked. Of the sides, I enjoyed the faroffa, feijoda (black beans with sausage), cassava with cheese. I stuck to the hot sides only, because none of the cold sides really grabbed me and it allowed me to save $2 per pound. My total order was about two pounds, so it came to just under $14.
My friend who also did the do it yourself option spent a bit more because she had a cold salad or two. She also had some chicken items that she said were good.
I enjoyed it and will go back. It is a little pricey for being part of the food court, so I do not know if it will become a regular stop.
We tried this place on Friday night before a movie and found it to be surprisingly good! Some of the sides were really excellent, and we had a few tasty pieces of sirloin. I wouldn't make a special trip for it, but if you're there to see a movie anyway, it's a great option!
10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067