Those of you who bow down at the alter of pork, who high five for ham, who beat down the doors for bacon, who dream of such things as chitterlings, cochon de lait, cracklings, headcheese, jambonneau, pieds de cochon, or trotters will love Umamicatessen (not that you can get them all here of course).
For the rest of us, it just plays like a really big, really nice looking Umami where you can also get a decent bowl of matzo ball soup (my aunt makes better) or some fried, fresh to order donuts. And for The Monster, that doesn’t justify the trip downtown.
The Monster loves Umami. Great pickle plate, tasty fries, love the onion rings. And be it the turkey or Ahi tuna burger it’s a delicious way to eat all your calories for the day in one sitting. And so it was with great anticipation that The Monster made the hike downtown. On the edge of the jewelry district, this striking restaurant takes the Umami aesthetic and blows it out. Unlike the other outposts, the size of the space means there is no wait. Score.
The menu has Umami classics with a few additions like the shrimp burger with yuzu-kosho and Japanese spices and the wasabi potato salad with sashimi. This is what The Monster orders, we’ll come back to them both in a bit.
The “Jewish deli” portion of the menu, under the heading The Cure has the aforementioned soup along with turkey, corned beef and pastrami sandwiches (Senor Gold penned one of his epic love poems to it previously). There’s also some chicken salad and liver (here spelled liva, annoying).
PIGG features all things…pig. The menu even bequeaths it the handle “The Magical Animal.” Many would agree. So enjoy your Jamon Iberico de Bellota and your pork liver pate with orange marmalade. The Monster will abstain.
So, the soup. It is fine. One large matzo ball, plenty firm, some vegetables and a bit of chicken. Sorry Umamicatessen, Aunt Connie makes better.
The wasabi potato salad with sashimi is both an odd amalgamation of flavors and a miss. The wasabi needs to be more pronounced, the tuna sashimi falters from too much salt and, as The Monster has found at other places like Picca, fish and potato just doesn’t mix all that well.
There is the pickle plate served at other locations on the menu. And of course The Monster orders it. And of course it is wonderful. Umami has one of the best pickle plates on offer though he misses the pickled fruit he’s seen at other branches of the mini-chain.
The shrimp burger, available only downtown, is the highlight of the meal. Umami has the burger portion of things squared away nicely be it with beef, turkey, tuna or shrimp. The Monster would love to see them branch out and try a lobster or scallop burger. A boy can dream.
Why go? You know what pieds de cochon is.
Monster rating: 3½/5 Monsters
852 South Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014