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Gjelina and Gjusta are two of the most popular spots on Abbot Kinney and now Travis Lett has MTN, an izakaya restaurant, to add to his list of restaurants. Like its siblings, and the neighborhood surrounding it, MTN is super hipster and trendy. The interior is all-black with high communal tables with uncomfortable seating. The backless stools definitely do not encourage one to linger too long at the restaurant. There is a long bar/chef counter along one side of the room with seating, as well as a long counter along another wall with seating. While watching the staff work is enjoyable to me, staring at a black wall does not. Luckily, we got a seat along the street-facing window and could watch the people walk by. And, while the seating may not be that comfortable, the decor is very appealing. The ceramic dishes, custom-made for MTN, are exquisite and the presentation of each dish was enhanced by what it was served on.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. There is a new trend in fine dining and it is called “social responsibility.” Recently, I attended Taste Talks Los Angeles, a food and drink festival featuring talks, tastings, dinners and parties. As L.A.'s amazing chefs, restaurants and cultural figures came together, they engaged in great conversation, including the role social responsibility has in the hospitality industry.
According to the California Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing, California has more than 118,000 homeless people, accounting for 22 percent of the nation’s homeless population. Many across the state, from political groups to nonprofits to for-profits to individuals, are working to solve this moral crisis, and the hospitality industry plays an important role.
Chrysalis is a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization  founded in 1984 to create a path to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals. They provide the resources and support to find and retain employment. To date, more than 58,000 men and women have been helped and, most importantly, 71 percent of people who find work through Chrysalis keep their jobs, officials said.
Located on the ground floor of a magnificently designed new building on Melrose Avenue, Umeda Restaurant opened its doors earlier this year. Across the street from Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza and Chi Spacca, Umeda is on the north side of Melrose, on the corner of Citrus, just west of Highland. Omeda quietly opened with little fanfare but luckily some friends told me about it. Umeda Restaurant is named after its chef, Takuya Umeda. Takuya Umeda began his career in Sapporo, Japan and worked with chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu London between 1997 to 2003. Umeda then came to work at Nobu's Matsuhisa in Bevelry Hills until 2017, when he opened his own restaurant. In the front of the house is the friendly and charming Joseph Mansour who also worked at Matsuhisa for almost a decade.