Starting on July 1, foie gras will be banned from California. While some people are actively protesting it or supporting it, there’s no doubt that the ban has sparked a statewide interest in this delicacy. Foie gras parties are being discussed and restaurants are pulling out all the stops, hoping to attract some eager/curious taste buds before it disappears. One item that caught my attention was the foie gras donut at L.A.’s Umamicatessen.
Umamicatessen is part of the Umami Restaurant Group, best known for their Umami Burger chains. Their burgers are purportedly so rife with flavor that they’re the go-to burger for many L.A. celebrities and wanna-be’s. When we stopped there during an impromptu early-morning trip to Los Angeles, it was too early for burgers… but that was fine. We were there for the donuts.
Umamicatessen’s tongue-wagging & A (the name of their donut bar is “& A” — that’s not a typo) menu features boozy Coke float, sorbet and six distinct, fried-to-order donuts. But due to stomach space, I settled on three donuts to split: tres leches, beignet and foie gras donut.
I approached it like wine — I ate them going from the lightest (the beignets) to the heaviest (foie gras).
An order of beignets ($4) includes two fried puffs with a chilled dipping sauce flavored with chicory coffee and burnt sugar. Having only had beignets only a few times, I didn’t expect much from these but they turned out to be the most satisfying and surprising of the bunch. The beignets were light and fluffy and the addictive sauce with generous vanilla bean speckles was more than enough. We attempted to lick the bowl clean long after the beignets disappeared.
What I thought would be a sure-fire win was a disappointment. We were warned that the tres leches donut ($4) takes an additional 5 minutes of prep to allow the cake donut to soak up the sweetened milk. While the donut was certainly moist, the flavors seemed a bit too delicate for what I normally expect out of tres leches cake. The whipped cream and the sauce were barely sweetened… to a fault. The only redeeming factor in this donut was the fine dusting of cinnamon which punched up the flavor.
The foie gras donut — aptly named FG&J ($8) due to the inclusion of both foie gras AND jam — was interesting to say the least.
Upon first glance, we noticed the donut had two insertion points on opposite ends: one for the foie gras and the second for the jam. Splitting it lengthwise caused both fillings to spill out. If you think eating a donut with a fork is faux pas, an encounter with this one may have you changing your mind. It seemed like the best way to eat it was to cut a piece of the raised donut and dip each piece into the fillings.
The foie gras mousse was reminiscent of lightly whipped peanut butter, further highlighted with the crushed peanuts on top. It was slightly salty (a nice contrast to the sweet jam) but with a light liver taste. Paul’s and my verdict was split. While I found it fine if not a bit funky, Paul decidedly left all the extra foie gras filling for me.
Umamicatessen donuts are served all day. For those with a weaker stomach, I suggest reserving the foie gras donut for later in the day and not first thing in the morning.
852 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014