And in the case of Beeston’s finest Filipino eatery, Sarah finds you really will need to sprint.
Popular sayings go through phases. At one time, everyone started a sentence with “At the end of the day…” even if they weren’t summarising anything. In 2019, Love Island had us admitting “It is what it is”, as if we were all resigned so some empyrean fate. Recently, a demanding little catchphrase has been on the radar: “Run don’t walk!”, we are told. Drop everything and go now. Park your toothbrush and try this sandwich in Cross Flats! Ditch the school run, bao buns are back at Trinity Kitchen! You know the drill.
The entire lot was devoured before the waiting Deliveroo driver even got his order
Sadly, with the pressure small businesses are under at the moment, it’s often wise to go - before it’s gone. And in the case of Beeston’s finest Filipino eatery, you really will need to sprint. Kanto, translates as ‘street corner’, which is apt as it sits at the junction of Dewsbury Road, opposite the Tommy Wass pub and the brazen face of estate agency in Yorkshire, Dan Pearce Sells Homes.
Kanto is predominately a takeaway. In fact, we are the only diners, sat on a small café table, amidst a curation of electric fan heaters. Plants hang in the red window-front which looks out at the busy traffic lights, where kids in black gloves are chucking bang snaps across the road. Police cars flash by every so often, disrupting the melodic Taylor Swift covers on the radio. A patchwork of mismatched wallpaper frames the counter, where a fridge of about a hundred cans of pop are lined up, ready.
I opt to pair my meal with a bottle of Thai Mogu Mogu. What I wasn’t bargaining for, was the chewy chunks of coconut floating in it. The bonus gelatinous snack. I end up pursing my lips to allow the liquid to flow through solo, sieving out the cubes, which I later learn to be glow in the dark.
The vegetable gyoza too are almost a beautiful lurid green, with a glass-like transparency to them. Four little boats, ideal for capsizing in the pretty painted dish of house sauce. The filling is starchy and thick, with a lovely savoury flavour. Scattered curls of spring onion offering sharpness and bite.
Behind us, a shelf showcases framed prints of the Philippines, alongside Kanto’s culinary inspiration: A copy of David Chang’s Momofuku, and Under Coconut Skies, Yasmin Newman’s Stories & Feasts from the Philippines. As the sound of a sizzling fryer drifts in from across the kitchen, it’s clear that the Javier family are proud to serve these vibrant sweet and sour dishes with the generous spirit of their heritage.
The Specials are homely, yet elevated. Triangles of Teriyaki seabass melt in a garlic infused glaze. My dinner date, and self-professed ‘Katsu slut’, described hers as “delightful” – generous slices of crispy chicken escalope lathered in a mild curry sauce. The huge mounds of rice are sticky and morish, and the sides! Wonderful strips of glossy spring greens with a wee wedge of lemon, are buttery and bright. The Asian slaw has a peppered punch from the red onion and kolrahbi. The entire lot was devoured before the waiting Deliveroo driver even got his order.
With a foil packet of colourful ‘Filipino Puto’ steamed buns for the road, the kind husband and wife serving us express their gratitude for our visit. They explain with heavy hearts that they’ll be closing up shop at the end of the month, attributing the ‘sky-high’ energy bills.
On Kanto’s Instagram feed, a post blames “Liz Truss’, BoJo, and the British dream.” But scroll down and you’ll see their hopeful sign off - “Sa uulitin”, meaning next time. Thankfully, Kanto are busy developing a new delivery and dine-at-home menu, and are in the process of securing a spot on Quarry Hill. With an upcoming pop-up kitchen at Sheaf Street on the 5th May, this family are definitely ones to watch.
So, if you can catch them, lace up and “run, don’t walk!”
Katsu curry 8, Seabass 7, Veg Gyoza 7, Coleslaw 6, Puto 8.