Life After Umami

For relaxing times, make it Plan Check time

Tsukemen was usually on our plate when we dined on Sawtelle Boulevard in West Los Angeles last year.

In 2012, though, burgers have usurped dipping ramen at the culinary fetish zone of Little Osaka. That's thanks to Plan Check, the newly opened restaurant helmed by former Umami corporate chef Ernesto Uchimura.

The restaurant's name references the neighboring Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety building, but the Suntory whiskeys behind the bar, the panko breadcrumbs baked into the buns, and the oysters with yuzu kosho cocktail sauce speak of Sawtelle's restaurants more than its bureaucracies.

The Plan Check Burger (pictured; $10) isn't the flashiest of Uchimura's patty-and-bun creations, but the ketchup component is inspired: The condiment appears as a thin strip of "leather" laid over the bottom bun. It's the culinary prophylactic the world of sous-vide burgers has been waiting for, offering spongy bread a shield from the dripping juice of a medium-rare patty.

Uchimura has a brawny ode to Jewish deli food on the menu, too. His pastrami sandwich ($12) is smeared with kimchi mustard and has a fried egg draped over the top slice of bread. The meat itself is treated much like bacon, the fat batons seared to a charred crisp before being loaded onto the sandwich.

Plan Check, 1800 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A.; 310-288-6500 or plancheckbar.com