Venice people don’t like to leave Venice. Everyone else likes to make fun of them for this, but also, why would they? They have the beach right there, a Whole Foods and an Erewhon, and the ability to walk (or more likely, skateboard) to a whole lot of very good restaurants.
Mtn is a casual izakaya-ish Japanese restaurant from the people behind two of those restaurants: Gjelina and Gjusta. And while it feels like the kind of laid-back neighborhood hangout that would give locals another reason to never cross Lincoln, it’s too expensive to be a restaurant where most people (except maybe those who just came into some Venice startup stock options) could regularly eat.
The space is dark and modern, with music only your coolest friend would instantly recognize, played at a not-good-for-your-eardrums level. There aren’t any tables - just a big bar that runs through the whole restaurant and a bunch of high communal tables. There are a few reservations available online, but otherwise you’ll be putting your name on a list that, on weekends (and some weeknights), can be pretty long. Service is helpful, especially at the bar, where they’ll let you try sake before you buy, and generally be way friendlier than any server has ever been at Gjelina.
The food is like a Greatest Hits of Japan - there’s sushi, ramen, small plates, and things on skewers cooked on a grill. Most of these are served simply, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Mushrooms come roasted in yuzu butter that we’d like to have spooned directly into our mouths and we’d recommend any of the sashimi dishes, but while the grilled squid is obviously fresh, it’s also a little bit boring. And while there are a bunch of ramen options, we’d only advise ordering a bowl if you’re here solo - there are other better things to share.
Mtn is a good restaurant, but it’s less useful than it could be. Two people having dinner with a couple of drinks can easily reach the $250 mark once you factor in the 20% mandatory tip. We get that running a restaurant on Abbot Kinney is an expensive undertaking, but Mtn doesn’t quite manage to make you feel like you got your money’s worth for a midweek dinner. That said, it’s a good spot in the area for quality Japanese food and a fun atmosphere, even if you won’t be skateboarding there multiple times a week.
You’re in Venice, so of course you should be eating pickled broccolini at dinner. It helps that this plate is very good.
A green that’s pretty similar to bok choy, this comes covered in a creamy sesame dressing with fluttering bonito flakes on top, and we are now addicted to a vegetable.
This is not an attractive dish - they just put the mushrooms on a plate - but it is a delicious one. The yuzu butter is incredible.
Only available when tomatoes are actually good, this is our favorite dish at Mtn. There’s a ton of sesame and a bit of wasabi, and we’d eat this daily.
This also comes smothered with butter, although this time it’s miso rather than yuzu. If you’re deciding between buttery sweet potato and the buttery mushrooms, we’d go for the mushrooms.
Buri is the Japanese name for yellowtail, and this sashimi is really simple, with just wasabi, ginger, and soy. With such high-quality fish though, it works.
If you’re sitting at the bar you’ll probably watch a chef grill your squid over hot coals right in front of you. The squid is excellent quality, and comes with a simple green chile sauce. It’s a little boring.
Get this instead if you’re looking for something grilled. It comes with some incredible Japanese mustard that you should save to dip everything else you eat in.
A spicy hand roll filled with crunchy burnt bits of pork. It’s good, but not a standout.
Ramen purists might have an issue with the thin noodles in Mtn’s ramens (they’re more like soba noodles), but we’re into them. The pork broth is a little flat though, especially for something that advertises the presence of bones.
If you’re going to do ramen here, get this one. The broth is more flavorful, and the clams make it feel different from all the other bowls you can get around town.