I am not one to frequent shopping mall food courts, but friends goaded me into lunch at the new Century City food court.
As sleek a setting as they've built, it's still not for me. I found ten different offerings that failed to spark my imagination or appetite. They deserve credit for a massive upgrade, and for one saving stroke of culinary counterprogramming.
Outside of the main food court hall, there is a semi-sitdown Brazilian churrascaria cafeteria line with a full bar. I know, it sounds bizarre. It kind of is.
Looking at the array of side dishes in the self serve line, I had vivid flashbacks to a summer exchange program to Brazil about 15 years ago. Each dish was more authentic looking than the next.
I ordered a roasted sirloin sandwich (big and meaty, though the beef was meh), a side of roasted lamb (the winner of the bunch, the best roasted lamb I've had in recent memory, do not miss it), and then piled a plate full of perfectly sweet, firm and hot plantains, and then built a grain-elevator sized pile of faroffa, a dish whose exact contents escape me. Perhaps it's an acquired taste, but faroffa as done at Ummba is a savory pile of lightly toasted breadcrumb-like grain, suffused with lots of smoky bacon. You have to chew, grind, inhale to fully appreciate it. The staff found it odd that I would choose it of all the available options.
In addition to the excellent lamb and overall authentic Brazilian grub, they serve a very, very, very (they warned me three times before serving it to me) spicy tomato/pepper salsa and delicious mild green sauce. This salsa ties the Lamb Frankie at Bombay Cafe for the "spiciest thing I eat voluntarily" award.
The pricing structure is a bit confusing at Ummba. I just closed my eyes and hoped not to get screwed. All of the above was between $20 and $30. Given the foodcourt options, I felt like I got the best possible meal for a pretty reasonable price.
They have a full bar outside with lots of plasma TVs. This would be a GREAT place to watch the next Brazil vs. anyone soccer match.
Check it out.