I eat: UMAMIcatessen

I’ve been craving burgers lately. Like, a lot. Apparently, eating In-N-Out on the weekends while watching playoff hockey has not been enough. I NEED MOREEEE BURGERS!!! So on one of my off Fridays, Henry and I headed to DLTA to try UMAMIcatessen, a food-court-esque eatery, which houses UMAMI Burger (yes, I’m totally stating the obvious :P). Having never eaten at UMAMI, we both wanted to see if the burgers were worth all the hype.

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As we looked over the menu, we knew we had to try their signature burger, the Umami Burger. Choosing our 2nd burger was tough. We were interested in both the Manly and Hatch Burgers. This was a battle of bacon vs. chiles, which we both LOVE, but ultimately, bacon won, as it usually always does. Always.

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Umami Burger, $11
shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp, umami ketchup

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Manly Burger, $11
beer-cheddar cheese, smoked salt onion strings, bacon lardons

We ordered the burgers medium rare, as suggested by our waiter, but when we split the burgers, the patties looked more like medium, almost medium-well. I couldn’t really complain because the burgers were actually incredibly tender and juicy.

To my surprise, I liked the Manly burger a lot more than the Umami. Simply put, the Manly is a high end, refined version of a Western Bacon Cheeseburger. I really enjoyed the combination of smoky + sweet and the contrast in texture provided by the fried onion. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with the Umami Burger. The flavors just didn’t mesh well and I did not care for the roasted tomato or the Umami ketchup. Am I only one??!! I’ve read many reviews raving about the ketchup.

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Smushed Potatoes, $4.50
dutch yellow creamers, double fried

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Crispy Pig Ears, $7
parsley, lemon, brainaise

In addition to the burgers, we also ordered two sides. If you love potatoes as much as I do, you must order the smushed potatoes. Starchy, salty goodness! And if you’ve never had pig ears and are feeling adventurous, I recommend the crispy pig ears; they’re a great alternative to fries.

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FG&J, $8
foie gras mousse, forest berry jam, peanut (yeast)

I gotta say, even though UMAMI is a burger joint, I was most excited about dessert. I love foie gras and I love doughnuts so the FG&J sounded amazing on paper. After a lengthy wait (longer than we waited for our burgers), I took one bite and was immediately turned off. My taste buds were so confused – the delicate flavor of the foie gras mixed with the tartness of the jam just didn’t make sense in my mouth. It was such a shame because the doughnut itself was quite good!

Verdict: 3.5/5
UMAMIcatessen
852 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

I eat: Traif

Our experience at Traif could not have started out any worse. We arrived 30 mins late because I thought our reservation was at 8:30PM – it was actually at 8:00PM. The hostess offered us the bar since our table had obviously been given away and we accepted. As we were settling in and figuring out what to order, the hostess came by and said she would be able to move us to a table (outside in the patio area) if we didn’t mind waiting about 10 minutes. Even though it actually turned out to be more like 20 minutes, we were so delighted and grateful! The hostess was more than awesome :) .. too bad I can’t say the same for our waitress.

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Amuse bouche – Moroccan lentil soup

Delicious and oh so comforting on a cold, rainy night.

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Seared scallops, butternut squash, huckleberries, pistachios, sage

The scallops were perfectly cooked and I loved the sweet and nutty aspect of the sauce.

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Crispy pork belly, cauliflower, peperoncini, romesco, parsley-garlic

Hmm, honestly, I don’t really remember this one. Not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose. The dish was just not memorable either way.

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Butterfish carpaccio, grapefruit, avocado, mint, sesame, soy

The avocado enhanced the creaminess of the butterfish and the grapefruit brought a refreshing element to the dish. YUM!

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Gemelli pasta, blue crab, fresh black truffles, braised leeks

I’ve read many complaints about this dish, specifically regarding the lack of crab. While I agree that there could have been more crab (who doesn’t want more crab?), this dish was one of my favorites. The crab was not the star of the dish, but I couldn’t have cared less because I’m a sucker for truffles.

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Joe’s chopped chicken livers, balsamic-bacon toasts, rosemary & shallots

LOVED. LOVED. LOVED this! The balsamic drizzle added a bit of sweetness and paired well with the chicken liver pate.

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Salt & pepper spicy white shrimp, golden pineapple, sweet potatoes

When I read salt & pepper spicy shrimp, I didn’t expect to see this; I was thinking more along the lines of Asian salt and pepper shrimp. Although I liked the shrimp itself, the combination of pineapple and sweet potatoes didn’t work for me.

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Seared foie, fingerlings, ham chips, sunny egg, maple, hot sauce

This dish reminded me of the foie gras loco moco at Animal (one of my favorite dishes EVER). It wasn’t as good, but certainly isn’t far behind. How can a dish with foie, potatoes and egg not be good?

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Sautéed veal sweetbreads, roast mushrooms, green garlic, spinach

By this time, we were so damn full, our buttons were about to pop off. I liked the earthiness of the mushrooms and green garlic, but the dish would have been much better had the sweetbreads been accompanied with something that would have provided a contrast in texture instead of spinach. Henry isn’t a big fan of sweetbreads because of the texture so even though I was already extremely stuffed, I basically finished the dish myself. oof.

We definitely learned the hard way that 8 dishes is wayyyy too ambitious! No regrets though, we had a great meal.

Verdict: 4/5
Traif
229 S 4th St
Brooklyn, NY 11211