Best Bites and Swigs at The UMAMIcatessen

UMAMI Shrimp Burger

I have had four Umami burgers in my life and I have really enjoyed only one of them, which is probably due to the fact that all four were consumed after the quick Umami Burger expansion to Santa Monica, Hollywood and so forth. Thus, I found them to be largely inconsistent.

UMAMIcatessen Interior

Just last week, I passed the La Brea location and there was a line of at least 20 Yelp reviewers people waiting outside to get seated. I gave the same roll eyes that I reserve for those who drive in to my neighborhood expressly for Saturday night bottle service.

But this…”catessen”…is a whole new ballgame. So nothing really prepared me for how much I enjoyed pretty much everything at Adam Fleischman’s UMAMIcatessen friends and family night in Downtown LA. And is the theatre revival on Broadway ever thankful for this pre-performance dining spot, which is basically a 7,000 square foot bazaar furnished with repurposed furniture in the 1929 Art Deco Ninth and Broadway Building. Down the street at a later date we can welcome Two Boots Pizza, Ace Hotel and Clifton’s Cafeteria reopening. The Cure (read: Kosher “style”), Umami Burger, P!GG, Spring for Coffee selections, & a Donut and of course, the fabulous Back Bar all offered tasty treats and swillerific swigs. Top notch.

Wasabi Potato Salad with Sashimi

The best bite of the night was the just-unveiled-that-night Shrimp Burger with Yuzu-Kosho, which embodied that namesake fifth taste in every way. No soggy lettuce, mind you, sat between the buttery, airy buns but a bit of seaweed in keeping with that shrimp bite. It also packs a delicious, slight kick thanks to the yuzu-kosho. Also exclusive to this location was the ever delicious Wasabi Potato Salad topped with Sashimi. It’s ingenius and probably the most refreshing taters you’ll ever have, but I’d be lying if the sashimi isn’t the easiest thing to pick off the appetizer, with my somewhat guiltfully leaving some lonely spuds behind.

Chris Cosentino and a can of lardo

But let me backtrack, here. It can’t be overlooked that P!GG is a welcoming of Chris Cosentino, of San Franciscan fame, into the Los Angeles foray. Don’t forget the Pork in a Can Lardo on crostini nor the Cone O’ Cracklins, the latter of which were delightfully airier than I expected. The Country Pate with cornichons and green peppercorn was pork-solid, as well, and delicious. And don’t forget the “Brainnaise” (whole hog is key), which comes atop P!GG Style Fries. But at the center of the P!GG menu are cured selections from Spain, Italy and the U.S. The Mini Potato Knishes from The Cure were also little bits of pastry heaven. The Matzoh Ball Soup is not to be overlooked, either, since there are crunchy little chicken cracklins dispersed amongst the matzoh. The Corned Beef and Pastrami assessment will have to come at a later date.

9th and Broad Cocktail

And I would be negligent if I didn’t address the delicious cocktails helmed by Adrian Bigg. My favorite was the 9th and Broad, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, Carpano Antica formula, Apricot liqueur and Jerry Thomas decanter bitters. The essential drink, of course, is the Bourbon Pig, essentially bacon fat washed Bulleit with Angostura, sugar and pig ear garnish.

As for gin lovers, I loved the Red Sapphire, made with Bombay Sapphire gin, St. Vincent raspberry syrup, Earl Grey tea syrup, Maraschino, fresh lemon juice and egg white. Don’t judge a cocktail by its cover, as this was a, yes – light, but perfectly balanced cocktail despite the temptation to dismiss it as a girly drink. So tasty.

& a Donut

Feeling more like beer? Ten draft beers are available for your pleasure. And the Spring for Coffee was a perfect, mid-meal pick-me-up. Now that is really good coffee.

And don’t forget dessert. The beignets were delightful as was the perfectly moist, rich donut.

So get yourself down to the UMAMIcatessen. Your appetite for whole hog, burgers, cocktails and all the extra fixins demands it. It’s really not just about burgers, anymore, and at once worthy of all the hype that surrounds Umami.

All food and drink were hosted.

 

UMAMIcatessen
846 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015
323.782.8201

What’s Cooking at The Taste This Weekend?

Michael Voltaggio & Co. Cooking Demo at The Taste of Beverly Hills, 2010

Hello, Labor Day Weekend!

So many events, so little time. So many events within events, as well. Such as with The Taste, which has been revamped since last year’s The Taste of Beverly Hills 3-day event ran concurrent with L.A. Times’ own cooking, food truck and tasting debut.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, as they say. And so the 4-day, 3-location extravaganza, a collaboration between L.A. Times and Food & Wine, begins today. Through Monday, nine 3- and 4-hour events will span The Beverly Hills Hilton, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood’s Paramount Studios and a block of Downtown Los Angeles.

So, which The Taste sessions will I be attending? If I weren’t hampered by a LudoBites 7.0 reservation tonight and FYF Fest (to see friends OFF! and others) tomorrow, I would pick these:

Burgers & Beer (Tonight/Friday, 7 – 10 PM)

With quality restaurant participants like Rustic Canyon, Blue Palms Brewhouse, Osteria La Buca, The Spice Table, City Tavern, The Gorbals and Westside Tavern – it’s a lineup that easily coaxes me out of my burger-hype-averse funk. With The Beer Chicks curating the beer list at this event, it’s a definite shoe-in. Check the full participant list, which also includes breweries.

Secrets From The Kitchen & Cellar (Saturday, 11 AM – 3 PM)

This is the session with intriguing demos, sure-to-be entertaining panels and top-notch restaurants all bundled in one. Get the inside take on Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre’s LudoBites operation and the first season of Ludo Bites America. Listen to Jonathan Gold, Michael Voltaggio, Craig Thornton (Wolvesmouth) and Walter Manzke talk about the industry in the age of tweeting. Learn insider tips on farmers’ markets from Russ Parsons. The cooking demos by Celestino Drago and Scarpetta’s Scott Conant are sure to be educational and interesting.

…And, while you’re at it, sneak some bites and sips in from my personal favorites of the session: Black Market, Ray’s and Stark Bar, Chaya, Craft, Cafe del Rey, Locanda del Lago, Osteria La Buca, Scarpetta, Sotto and Wood & Vine.

Taco Tryst (Saturday, 7 – 10 PM)

Need I say more? Nouveau and O.G. tacos collide, here. Yes, the Kogi King, Roy Choi, will be host on this night. But the real tastes I’d look forward to are brought to you by Antojitos Carmen, Guelaguetza, Loteria Grill, Mariscos Chentes and Yamashiro.

Street Eats (Sunday, 4 – 8 PM)

The panel led by Betty Hallock will be the main event for this session as she leads Roy Choi, Sang Yoon (Father’s Office, Lukshon), Jet Tila (Wazuzu) and Mario Alberto (Chimu) through a discussion about Los Angeles as a (the best) food city.

While you’re there, don’t miss bites from Akasha, Cast Iron Gourmet, Coolhaus, Jitlada, Osteria La Buca, Pitfire, STREET, The Foundry on Melrose and The Grilled Cheese Truck.

Desserts After Dark (Sunday, 8 – 11 PM)

This is pretty self-explanatory, and though it may be after dark, I’m thinking that dessert on Sunday may also be my dinner. Look for sweet treats from the brand-new Fonuts by Waylynn Lucas, Craft, Farmshop, Oliverio, Pazzo Gelato, Simplethings and Sweet Rose Creamery.

***

I wish I had time to list all the wines and spirits that are also participating, but you’ll have to see the individual event pages for those. Don’t forget the 40% off code (WEB) when you buy your tickets. The all-inclusive price of $125 and $150 gets knocked down to $75 and $90.

Have fun this weekend, whatever you do. Enjoy the long one, and see you on the flipside.

The Taste: Friday – Monday, September 2 – 5, 2011

Tickets

40% off code: WEB

9900 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Paramount Pictures
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Broadway Blvd.
Between 8th and 9th
Los Angeles, CA