Nine years ago, Gjelina could have been MTN. When Fran Camaj had secured the space on Abbot Kinney, the chef and co-founder Travis Lett suggested opening an izakaya, with ramen, gyoza and an array of seasonal vegetables. Instead, Gjelina became the sometimes pretentious and sometimes perfect Italian restaurant and an emblem of Venice Beach. With MTN, Travis Lett can finally let his izakaya dreams run wild and free — he even took the time to stage at the prestigious Tsukizi fish market in Tokyo. The restaurant (which took years to open because of permit issues) is a big block of black painted mushroom wood, with counters, barstools and communal tables. After flipping a vinyl on the record player, your waiter will come get your order: yuzu butter-baked mushrooms, smoky eggplant with walnut miso, albacore tataki, pork belly gyoza, koji-marinated duck breasts… and, of course, ramen — wheat/buckwheat noodles and a broth made with the feet, head, tail and bones of Peads and Barnett’s pigs. Wash it all down with tea, shōchū, beer or an homemade yuzu soda. Enjoy yourself because, well, you’ve probably waited for 45+ minutes to get a seat at MTN. And now you know it’s pronounced Mountain.
Where? 1305 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
When? Monday-Sunday 5:30PM-12AM
How? (424) 465-3313 or Resy
Price: Small plates $8-12, Dishes $18-27
Best for: Dinner