Location: 1305 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291. (424) 465-3313
Date: March 31 & June 28, 2018
Cuisine: Japanese Izakaya
Rating: Good flavors, uncomfortable chairs
Travis Lett has a little Venice empire helmed by Gjelina.
MTN, which is a modern, upscale, kinda westernized Izakaya (Japanese for “here, sake is served” or “stay/sit at sake shop”). The build out is cool and more than a little crazy with “burnt” or blackened wood.
I brought this Ramen Roll remainder high end sake.
Japanese medai sashimi. yuzu kosho, finger lime, sisho. Salty and with a very strong signature from the yuzu kosho (salt, green chili, and yuzu).
Japanese tai sashimi (6/28/18). yuzu kosho, shiso, finger lime. Straightforward by today’s standards, but really good.
Handmade shitake gyoza. roasted kabocha, tofu, salted daikon greens, shiso, scallion. Nicely cooked. Good. Great for vegetarian gyoza. Pork would have been even better.
And on 6/28/18 when I returned, I got the handmade peads & barnetts pork belly gyoza. red kimchi, negi, ginger, black pepper.
Ocean Trout oyakodon. Basically a grilled salmon and salmon egg rice bowl. But the vinegar on the pickles was very nice with the rice.
Lone mtn wagyu beef tataki. ponzu, cucumber, crispy garlic. This tartly sauced thin sliced beef was spectacular.
Squid ink chahan (6/28/18). Koda farms white rice, lemon basil, ika, pork belly, amaranth, egg, fresno chili, pickled ginger, sudachi, fish sauce. Like a Japanese paella, sort of.
Grilled Japanese eggplant (6/28/18). Walnut miso dressing, lemon, scallion.
Dungeness crab ramen. miso, crab broth, tosaka, confit tomato, fresno chili, chive. I didn’t actually try this as the guys next to us at the table had it and allowed me to sneak a photo. But on 6/28/18 I had it myself and it was great. Really interesting complex flavors.
Yuzu meringue pie. Not as tart and bracing as I would have hoped. Yuzu can be VERY tart and this would have been a good excuse for it.
Overall, I was impressed by MTN. The setting was gorgeous and nice atmosphere. Loud though. And I wish the seats were comfortable. Really not at all. And I hate high stools. But service was very good and friendly in that contemporary LA way — i.e. at the good end of that spectrum, but not traditional really knowledgeable service.
The food was surprisingly excellent. Yeah it’s not totally traditional in all ways, feels snazzed up and touch whitewashed, but the flavors were generally strong, very Japanese (with the weird-to-Americans edge polished off), and extremely enjoyable.
MTN has a low Yelp score (3) and this is total BS. Too much whining about the $20-24 ramen from the peanut gallery. First of all, this isn’t even a ramen place. Yeah, it has some fancy ramens, but it’s not Shin Sen Gumi where everything is dirt cheap on the menu AND in the kitchen. It’s not just “order your bowl of ramen and toppings.” It’s a full Izakaya menu that happens to have a couple ramens. They don’t even really belong because they are very hard to split. But come on, that crab ramen is full of Dungeness crab meat. It CAN’T be $8 like a bowl of over salted mediocre tonkotsu. Plus they pay an Abbot Kinney rent and have a crazy blackened wood hipster build out!
On my second visit the food was just as good. The service was excellent. The seats were even more a pain in the ass (literally) and they had a bit of a kitchen backup on the ramen which created an extra 45 minute delay before we got it (as pretty much our last course). They threw in some extras and apologized a lot which was nice but my ass was starting to go numb.