Trendy but Tasty at MTN Venice

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.

The MTN menu is Japanese and most of the ingredients are made from scratch, including the dashi stock, red miso paste, kimchi, ponzu, tofu and more. The flavors are simple, precise and flavorful and make up for the uncomfortable seating.

Erika’s Pickle Plate ($10) is a must-have dish. It includes shoyu-soaked mustard greens, koji-fermented daikon radish, cucumber nukazuke, cabbage kimchi and eggplant cured in tangy plum vinegar.

Albacore Temaki ($16) is a fresh handroll with avocado, shiso, cucumber and ume.

Grilled Ika ($16) is grilled squid with yuzu kosho

Grilled Skirt Steak ($22) with red miso and marinated wasabina is delicious. The meat is tender with a savory char on the the outside.

Yaki Onigiri Chirimenjako ($12) are grilled Japanese rice balls covered in savory soy sauce with semi-dried salted tiny sardines, red shiso furikake, daikon greens and goma.

To pair with our meal, we enjoyed a few glasses of wine. MTN offers beer, sake and shochu cocktails and when it comes to wine, Wine Director Henry Beylin has crafted an exclusively white (and orange) wine list to offer guests. I love his bold decision to only offer wines that will pair beautifully with the food.

Tart, refreshing with a little spice, the Pomegranate and Ginger Sorbet was a perfect way to end the meal.

MTN Venice is a bit on the pricey side but the flavors are spot on. If I can overlook the trendiness of the entire area, I will be back.

MTN Venice
1305 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291