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UMAMIcatessen - Thoughts?!

Surprised this thread hasn't been started yet!

Checked it out last night after work! Longish wait, but to be expected for an anticipated spot. The cocktails are the bar were delish and service was attentive. We had the Black Jack (really yum and could be dangerous as it was strong but sweet!), the pig whiskey thing (was aiiight) and the Urban Trader (could have been mixed better of all ingrediants).

Finally after 30 min or so, we were seated. Waitstaff was lovely and menu was familiar on the Umami Burger section (which I was thinking there'd be something different). It's funny to me that there is a "kosher" Jewish Deli section and then a pork-centric menu! All 3 food menus offered a variety of selections without being too overwhelming. I do however wish there was a lil bit more veggie options, as it was very meat and startch/fried/carb heavy with only a few salads.

We ordered the crispy pig ears (good but nothing amazing), mini potatos knishes (yummy morsels but again, nothing that blew my mind), pastrami burger (yum--want to try just the pastrami sammich next), manly burger, and the tempura onion rings amongst 3 people. Dessert was the beignets and they were not good (pout).

Would I go back? YES! Sure. Would I go out of my way for it? Naaaaaaa.

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  1. Anyone know what the lunch wait is like?

    1 Reply
    1. re: sku

      There's no wait at lunch, the place is cavernous.

    2. Loved the Foie doughnut and the Cortado from the espresso section. When I went there the pig ears weren't that great either, although Idid like the pork rilletts.

      1. We had tickets for a show at the Orpheum on Saturday night.

        Arrived at Umamicatessen (UC for short) at about 7pm. The wait, we were told, would be 45 minutes. Our didn't need to be in our seats until 9pm so we opted to wait. It helped that a single seat opened up at the bar so my wife sat down, ordered a very good Cape Cod, and we got some FRIED PIG EARS while we waited.

        Those were good; I'd say as good as any other ones I've had in the city. My wife liked them better than the ones at Lazy Ox. They're cut a lot thinner and at $7, it's not exactly as cheap as an order of fries but they're generous on the amount. The "brainaise" sauce (brain + mayo) was fine; very citrusy which seemed to go over well with the saltiness of the pig ears.

        One bad note: the bartender, despite making a good Cape Cod, assumed the small group of people standing behind us were "with us" and so he put all our orders on a single tab. The only thing we had in common - besides geographic proximity - was that we were all Asian.

        Don't racially profile me, bro.

        (Disentangling the checks proved to be a minor headache, to boot.)

        Anyways, our table came ready after about 35-40 minutes. We ordered:
        •BEET SALAD (which was really more of an arugla salad with truffled ricotta and these very tasty bits of fried almonds. Liked this one a lot)
        •UMAMI BURGER (tasty but not to start up this old fight: not better than Father's Office. Not by a longshot).
        •PASTRAMI ON RYE (based on JGold's "it would keep the Langer's folks up at night" recommendation) but here's the weird thing. The sandwich I got was spiced like pastrami but it also looked and tasted like...ham. That bugged me out for most of dinner. I'm sure I was wrong but it was some cognitive dissonance going on with that. It was decent but not remotely in the same orbit as Langer's)

        We were seated right by the ham-o-vator and it was tempting to want to order a sampling but at $25 a pop, we shied away. I like cured meats a lot but that felt too rich for our blood.

        I will say this: food was PROMPT. Our burgers were out within what felt like less than 10 minutes after being ordered. Got to the Orpheum with time to spare.

        Overall, besides the unfortunate bar incident, I liked the meal. I'd totally go back there again...if I had another show at the Orpheum. But otherwise, I don't know how badly I'd want to trek down to DTLA to eat a meal there again.

        1 Reply
        1. re: odub

          I really like that beet salad too. It feels weird to go to this meat extravaganza and order something vegetarian, but it's really good!

        2. only hearing 2 things said about this place

          1. their fois donuts are amazing (gone soon with ban…then what?)
          2. i wish i went to animal

          i wanna try it but… i dont wanna say #2 and be bummed after…scared!

          1. I went a couple of weeks ago and loved everything I had off the Pigg menu. The highlight, though, was the pork liver pate sandwich. Served on a ciabatta roll, the liver was rich and juicy, shimmering with fat, more like a lobe of porky foie gras than a typical liver pate. The arugula and caramelized onions offered just enough sweet and acid to cut the fat.

            The Umami menu is just a regular Umami burger and I didn't try the deli menu. As to the doughnuts, the foie doughnut is good for one bite, but not much more. I preferred the Tres Leches Cajeta doughnut.

            Still, I definitely liked this place enough to go back, and now with the JGold review, I'm curious about the deli stuff.


            1. I don't know if it was only me, but the pig ears and the donuts were both room temp when we got them? not sure if it's supposed to be that way, but seems to me they'd be much tastier fresh out of the fryer.

              1. Had lunch there today, focusing more on the PIGG menu after eating at Incanto and the Boccalone Salumeria :
                - 3 of the items we tried to order were not available
                - the Iberico Crudo recommended by the waitress was almost without taste or texture
                - the strong wasabi taste in the potato salad totally overpowered the tuna sashimi that accompanied it
                - the crispy pig's ears were ok, but heavy on the spice
                - the meat of the hoof & mouth terrine sandwich was overshadowed by the strong taste of the pickles

                In all not as great an experience as I had hoped it would be, but then again I may not have had the best of the menu.

                1. Went today for the first time. The Pastrami Reuben was OK. Not as good as Langer's, by a long shot. The Manly Burger was good. Thought the beet salad was extraordinary. Crispy Brussel Sprouts very good but for me, a small portion of Brussel Sprouts goes a long way. Tried their version of a spicy Bloody Mary, made with some beer. I love spicy food and have had great spicy Bloody Marys but this one was too hot for me. Something different about the heat.

                  Will go again, after trying all the other downtown restaurants have not tried yet.

                  1. Went last night for the first time and really enjoyed our meal.

                    Started out by splitting the Pigg's Picks of assorted cured hams. Good news on multiple fronts, as they've cut the price in half from $60 to $30 – not sure how long that will last. The assortment, including one prosciutto San Daniel, two Ibericos and the balance an assortment of artisanal cured American hams was absolutely fantastic, with a great range of flavors from salty, to earthy to smoky! I jokingly asked my brother-in-law, who is a nut for all things cured, if he had an urge to crawl into the ham isolation booth/elevator that anchors the Cosentino side of the space.

                    For mains, two of us had the Reuben, which was a hit. Never had one with thick cut pastrami before and, aside from making it a bit tough to eat, it was delicious. Enough fat to add the right flavor but lean enough to provide an enjoyable chew. The cure tasted pretty standard and relied less on saltiness and more on a rich, meaty taste for flavor. The rye bread was crusty and chewy and a solid match for the fillings. The only (minor) gripe was the lack of acidic mustard to cut through all the richness. We were offered either dijon or grain mustard. Why is there a dearth of brown, deli style mustard in Los Angeles? It would have been the perfect accompaniment to balance all the good fat and meat in the sandwich.

                    The bro-in-law opted for the Manly Burger, which he said was solid as usual – we’re frequenters of the Los Feliz Umami – and my sister opted for the chicken salad sandwich. Sort of a bland call but she is a big fan of chicken salad with grapes.

                    Sides included a crispy Asian slaw and the roasted Brussels sprouts. The sprouts were really tasty. Tasted like they were roasted first and then tossed in some sort of creamy, mild mustard sauce.

                    At this point, we were tempted to tap out and call it a night but the idea of donuts fried to order was too good to pass up. We opted for the brown bread with dried fruit, the tres leches, the lemon curd and the german chocolate. Wow! You know they’re doing something right when the default chocolate is considered the least tasty. The lemon curd, with its contrast of crispy, fried dough and creamy, slightly tangy curd was amazing. The brown bread had a nice, spicy hint that matched perfectly with the topping of raisins and sultanas. The tres leches seemed to be the crowd favorite. How could it not be, as it’s served sitting in a puddle of Mexican caramel?

                    The service was solid. The server seemed well trained and could speak informatively about some of the admittedly obscure items on the menu.

                    The space is pretty large and, on a slow night, felt a bit boomy and gymnasium like.

                    Overall, a solid experience and we’ll look forward to returning.

                    1. I live around the corner and it is perfect to take my 1 year old because if a child cries in a deafeningly loud restaurant - can anyone hear him? I'm not the biggest Umami burger fan, I like the Hatch but wish it was twice the size. Obsessed with the Pastrami, the cured ham from Pigg, the grinder, drinks are fantastic and the happy hour is a decent deal. What really keeps me coming back is that I crave pastrami on Sundays, and Langer's aint open. I think this place is a fascinating concept and would like to see more of it.

                      1. My sister and I enjoyed a leisurely lunch there in June. The snacks were good. Porcine popcorn and deep fried pork rinds were fun. The sandwiches were good, too. Service was attentive. Dessert was foie and jelly beignets.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: attran99

                          Alas, no more foie and jelly beignets, but all the doughnuts are good.

                        2. Went today for lunch.

                          I'm a fan.

                          We had the:

                          Roasted beet salad. Excellent. Much better than the version with truffle oil.

                          Brussel sprouts. Nice.

                          Baby kale and butter lettuce salad. Done Caesar salad style complete with white anchovy. Very good.

                          Umami burger, California burger, Manly burger. Medium rate. As good as and maybe better than Umami Costa Mesa.

                          Pastrami Reuben. Excellent. So good we ordered a another. Not as smoky as Katz's, 2nd Ave, or Langer's but also not as fatty either while still managing to be moist and tender. Maybe the best "lean" pastrami I've had.

                          Boccolone Italian grinder. Pretty good but overshadowed by the pastrami.

                          Lemon curd donut. Excellent. Very tart but a bit refreshing after all the meat.

                          Bread pudding donut. Excellent. My personal favorite.

                          Beignet with chicory. Clearly the underperfomer of the group.

                          Ice cream of salted chocolate and "porc phat". Salted chocolate was outstanding. Porc phat lacked any lard flavor but had a nice texture. Paired well with the salted chocolate.

                          I would come here just for the beet salad and the pastrami ruben x 2...maybe another couple of scoops of that salted chocolate ice cream.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Porthos

                            agree. that is darn good thick cut pastrami.

                            1. re: wienermobile

                              Now all they need is better rye. But I agree, the pastrami is amazing. Funny thing was I have been twice and both were pretty fatty pieces of pastrami.

                              1. re: A5 KOBE

                                Their rye bread is pretty mediocre.

                                1. re: wienermobile

                                  Is it like Plan Check's thick cut pastrami? That stuff is ridiculous.... Haven't had the pastrami at U-catessen....

                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                    Must get Umami pastrami. There mustard is pretty tasty as well.

                                    1. re: A5 KOBE

                                      J. Gold's review of Umamicatesen's Pastrami from last year..."The sandwich itself, designed by Micah Wexler of Mezze, is fairly spectacular, reimagined as a kind of steak sandwich. The meat is sliced at least a quarter-inch thick, laid out in orderly rows instead of being arranged into the customary wedge on the rye bread, and seasoned with seeded Dijon mustard instead of the customary splash of the brown stuff. I'm not saying it is the best pastrami sandwich in Los Angeles, but it is the first sandwich I have encountered in a lifetime of pastrami eating that might keep Norm Langer up at night."

                              2. My thought is: blah. It's fine, but there are at probably 20 better restaurants in downtown LA.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: AlkieGourmand

                                  Name them :-)

                                  Especially ones where you get a better pastrami reuben...