Umma by Noodlelove, a terrific new Korean comfort-food restaurant in Nolita, was conceived and executed entirely during the pandemic, but not for reasons you might expect.

Owner Natalie Camerino had a good thing going pre-COVID with her fast-casual, build-a-bowl spot Noodle Love, located on the corner of Kenmare and Mott and a favorite of area workers. Counter service restaurants accustomed to a high volume of takeout initially seemed to be in the best position to survive the shutdown, but as the months went by and working from home became the norm for the foreseeable future, Camerino realized that many of her regulars weren't coming back anytime soon.

Simultaneously, later in the summer everyone in NYC seemed to realize how pleasant it could be to eat full-service meals outside in curbside dining rooms, so Camerino brought in chef Tabitha Yeh, formerly of high-end kitchens like Per Se, Noma, and Bar Masa, and together they completely reinvented the place. Which is why we all now get to eat at Umma, which means "mom" in Korean and features a winning menu evoking the sorts of dishes and flavors that Camerino and Yeh grew up with.

I got to try out Umma's dishes last week at a press dinner, and really loved just about everything. At the heart of the menu are the noodle and rice dishes, some of which you may have encountered before at Noodle Love, others are newer creations. For example, Yeh spent much of the summer working on a new take of that old Italian workhorse linguine with clam sauce, and oh man did she ever nail it. Yeh's Seoul alle Vongole features slick wonton noodles, loads of tender littlenecks, plenty of heat courtesy of gochugaru, and napa cabbage and sourdough crumble for further textural intrigue. Honestly, I've never enjoyed any version of this dish as much as this one.

Seoul Alle Vongole ($23)

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Other excellent offerings in the "large plate" section include the Royal Ddukbokki, packed with fat tubes of rice cake, glass noodles, and trumpet mushrooms in a lively sesame-soy sauce; the Peanut-Chili Noodles, another fiery delight, this time using udon noodles and thick, nutty sauce; and the Kimchi Bibimbap Fried Rice, a riot of flavors in a perfectly composed bowl. Coconut Fish Curry, Crab Thai Basil, and Korean BBQ Flank Steak round out your entree-sized options.

Royal Ddukbokki ($16)

Scott Lynch / Gothamist

Umma's starters, or "small plates," are even more playful, and almost as good. The K.F.C Buns were my favorite from up here — juicy fried chicken with spicy cucumbers, slaw, and barbecue sauce spilling out from its soft, spongy container — but the Spicy Salmon Crispy Rice was a close second. And the Bulgogi Cheeseburger Dumplings are worth it for the ocean of cheese sauce alone. You can also get Yeh's Matzo Ball Soup, an array of Homemade Banchan, and/or the Bang Bang Shrimp Lettuce Wraps to start.

For dessert there are Warm Black Sesame Dumplings, which weren't sweet enough to really satisfy me at this stage of the meal. The Mochi Ice Cream quartet, however (there's a passion fruit, a matcha, a mango, and a salted caramel) comes from the great nearby Mochidoki and definitely hits the spot. Beer, wine, sake, and sake cocktails will keep the drinkers at your table happy.

The outdoor setup on Mott Street is comfortable, though a little tight and plagued by honking drivers, with tables for 16 guests curbside, and stools along a storefront counter for another eight people. Camerino is planning on putting tables out on Kenmare soon, and began inviting diners inside this week. By the way, the old Noodlelove menu remains available during the day, from noon to 4:30 p.m., and you can order it counter service style or for delivery.

Scott Lynch / Gothamist

Umma by Noodlelove is located at 192 Mott Street, at the corner of Kenmare Street, and is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (646-870-0571;