And in the case of Beeston’s finest Filipino eatery, Sarah finds you really have to sprint.
Popular sayings go through phases. At one point, everyone started the sentence with “At the end of the day…” even though they weren’t summarizing anything. In 2019, Love Island made us admit “It is what it is”, as if we’d all been divorced, hence the empyrean fate. Lately, there’s been a demanding little slogan on the radar: “Run, don’t walk!”, we’re told. Drop everything and go now. Park your toothbrush and try this sandwich at Cross Flats! Leave the school run, Bao buns are back at Trinity Kitchen! You know the drill.
The entire batch was eaten before the waiting Deliveroo driver even received his order
Unfortunately, with the current pressure on small businesses, it’s often wise to leave – before it’s gone. And in the case of Beeston’s finest Filipino eatery, you really have to sprint. Canto, translated as ‘street corner’, apt as it is at the junction of Dewsbury Road, opposite the Tommy Wass pub and the cheeky Dan Pearce Sells Homes of Yorkshire Estates.
Kanto is mostly takeaway. In fact, we are the only diners sitting at a small cafe table amidst a curation of electric fan heaters. Plants hang in front of a red window that overlooks busy traffic lights where kids in black gloves throw clickers across the road. Police cars flash by every so often, interrupting the melodic Taylor Swift covers on the radio. The counter is framed by a patchwork of mismatched wallpapers, with a refrigerator of about a hundred cans ready.
I pair my meal with a bottle of Thai Mogu Mogu. What I didn’t skimp on was the chewy pieces of coconut floating in it. Bonus jelly snack. Finally, I purse my lips to let the liquid flow through on its own, straining the cubes that I later learn glow in the dark.
The vegetable gyoza are also almost a beautiful bright green with a glassy transparency. Four small boats that are ideal for crashing in the beautifully painted saucer of the house. The filling is starchy and thick, with a lovely salty taste. Scattered spring onion curls provide sharpness and bite.
On the shelf behind us are framed prints from the Philippines, along with Cantonese culinary inspirations: a copy of David Chang’s Momofuku and Under Coconut Skies, Yasmin Newman’s stories and feasts from the Philippines. With the sound of a deep fryer sizzling from across the kitchen, it’s clear that Javier’s family takes pride in serving up these vibrant sweet and sour dishes with the generous spirit of heritage.
The special offers are cozy, but of a high standard. Triangles of teriyaki sea bass melt in a glaze filled with garlic. My dinner date and self-proclaimed “Katsu slut” described her as “lovely” – generous slices of crispy chicken escalope in a mild curry sauce. The giant rice beans are sticky and gooey, and the sides! The gorgeous strips of glossy spring green with a lemon wedge are buttery and bright. The Asian salaava has a pepper made from red onion and kohlrabi. The entire batch was eaten before the waiting Deliveroo driver even received his order.
The friendly husband and wife serving us express their gratitude for our visit with a foil packet of colorful “Filipino Puto” steamed buns for the road. With heavy hearts, they explain that they will be closing their store at the end of the month and blame “sky-high” energy bills.
Kanto’s Instagram feed blames “Liz Truss, BoJo and the British Dream.” But scroll down and you’ll see their hopeful sign – “Sa uulitin”, meaning next time. Fortunately, Kanto is hard at work developing a new menu of delivery and home food, and is currently securing a location at Quarry Hill. The upcoming pop-up kitchen at 5 Sheaf Streetth May, this family is definitely worth watching.
So if you catch them, tie them up and “run, don’t walk!”
Katsu curry 8, Seabass 7, Veg Gyoza 7, Coleslaw 6, Puto 8.