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Umamicatessan soft-opens, plies downtown L.A. with pork products

March 2, 2012 |  2:34 pm

Umamicatessan soft-opens in downtown L.A.
Umamicatessan, Adam Fleischman's haute answer to the lowly food court, soft-opens Saturday in the renovated Orpheum, across the street from the teal-coated Art Deco majesty of the Eastern Columbia lofts near 9th Street and Broadway.

With seating for 206, Umamicatessan features a large central dining area surrounded by five distinct dining concepts and an ample bar. They are: Pigg, chef Chris Cosentino's ode to all things pork; Spring for Coffee; the Cure (Fleischman's sauced-up modern deli); Umami Burger; and & a Donut, which features fresh-fried donuts with creative toppings and sauces. The bar, Umami Burger's biggest, is helmed by mixologist Adrian Biggs (La Descarga, Harvard & Stone).

Meals from each of the concepts can be ordered from one server, or diners can sit at the bar in front of the station of their choice. Food will come out at different times, according to the pace of each chef in each kitchen an order is placed with.

"It's a playground in here," said Jason Berkowitz, VP of hospitality for Umami Restaurant Group during a recent press preview. "We told the chefs 'The only limit is your imagination,' so let's see what evolves."

Perhaps the most stunning feature of the lofty dining room with its wooden tables and chairs is the two-story "tower of ham" that anchors Pigg.

The refrigerated tower will eventually be home to 20 varieties of ham from around the globe and even has its own conveyor belt for ease in dispatching the meat.

"People take cured meat for granted in that they think it only comes from Europe," said Cosentino. "We have a long-standing tradition of it here in the States -- from the South."

To that end Cosentino has shipped in offerings from North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, alongside Iberico and Serrano from Spain and prosciutto from Italy. Then there are his fried snacks (proudly crisped in 100% pure lard). These include pork corn and Pigg-style fries served with pickled peppers, ham puree and "brainaise," which is an aoili made of pig brains.

Can't stomach the adventure? Perhaps you'd prefer a plate of "Hoof & Mouth," featuring meat from you-guessed-where.

"That's me taking back the term," said Cosentino. "It's pig's head and pig's foot terrine, served with pickled carrots."

Over at the Cure, Fleischman has laid claim to traditional deli classics like corned beef on rye, bagels, smoked fish and knishes.

The idea, he says, is to open Umamicatessan in other markets across the country with its core concepts -- Pigg, the Cure and Umami Burger -- always represented.

"It all just kind of aligned and turned out well," said Fleischman. "In other places, instead of coffee we might do barbecue, or something else."

Also available in Umamicatessan is a new line of Umami Burger cooking products, including Umami Dust and Umami Spray, which contain the secret ingredients that Fleischman uses in his Umami Burgers to give them certain cravable savory qualities.

These have been incorporated by Biggs into his cocktails where applicable. Of particular note is his take on the Michelada, made with tequila, house-made roasted tomato Bloody Mary mix and beer. The glass is rimmed with Umami Dust.

Try to have just one.

Umamicatessan, 846 S. Broadway, L.A.


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Photo: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times