The Food Pornographer and I decided to catch up for lunch recently. It was TFP’s choice of restaurant, as I picked last time (I chose Meeka and a post will be up in a few weeks). TFP was keen to check out Kanta Japanese Kitchen and Sushi Bar in Langford, which was a recommendation from a few of her readers. I happily agreed and was very interested to try a southern suburban eatery that has a big reputation for great Japanese food.
Kanta is situated in a small row of shops and is nestled happily in the quiet suburb of Langford. It’s interesting that this little place has received a lot of attention as it is easy to miss from the outside. I am told that it is very popular and it is difficult to get a seat on any night of the week (hint: bookings are highly recommended in the evenings). It’s an “Izakaya” style (small plates) restaurant, which features some unique Japanese dishes such as Kamo Steak (Duck in special shitake mushroom sauce) and Beef Tongue steak (Grilled beef tongue with red wine teriyaki sauce), as well as the usual Japanese fair of sushi, donburi and udon noodles.
TFP and I were quick to order and decided to share our dishes, as recommended in Izakaya style dining. We ordered the California Sushi (5 pieces) ($6), Chicken Karaage ($7.80), Salmon Shioyaki ($9.80), and Beef Teriyaki Donburi ($9.80). We sat at the sushi bar, which overlooked the kitchen. During our meal, both TFP and I were distracted by the chef and the food sizzling in the kitchen. It was a nice change to the usual mundane dining experience of a seat nowhere near the kitchen and I enjoyed having a view of the chef and kitchen in action.
The first dish to arrive was the California Roll. These pieces of sushi were amazingly soft and tasted really fresh. As mentioned in TFP’s post, there was a good amount of avocado and omelette, leading the sushi to be big on flavour. TFP was kind enough to give me the third piece left over in the division of food, which made me very happy!
Our next dish to arrive was the Salmon Shioyaki. Watching the chef in the kitchen, we saw him prepare the salmon by heavily salting the slice before grilling it until it was black and crispy. This dish came by itself, but I found it a bit dry and dull so I asked for some Japanese (umo) mayo on the side. It definitely perked it up a bit but I probably wouldn’t order this again, due to personal preference, as I wasn’t too fond of the burnt taste of the skin. TFP seemed to enjoy it though and I guess it comes down to individual preference.
The next dish was my favourite of the four – the very tasty Chicken Karaage. Kanta served up an amazing dish of fried chicken. Both TFP and I particularly enjoyed this dish and we were happily attacking it and talking about the taste. There was an almost salty taste to it but it was counteracted by the deep fried batter and the chicken itself was juicy and lightly cooked. It was really good and I recommend it as a dish to pick at Kanta.
Our last dish was the Beef Teriyaki Donburi. By this stage I was quite full but the smell of the dish made my mouth water regardless. The rice was really fluffy and the meat was tender and seasoned well. The serving was quite big for the very reasonable price and was definitely another stand-out dish at Kanta.
There are a few noticable things at Kanta that are especially appealing to the average diner. Firstly, the place is really clean and tidy for its tiny premise, which is good to see in any establishment. The second are the prices – they are really reasonable for what you get. The price of our lunch was $37.90 and we both walked out feeling full. The third is the quality of the food. It seems to be really good quality and is also very tasty. It’s not generic and overlooked – you can tell that the chef is interested in what he provides and endeavours to supply his customers with great food.
In saying that, there are a few negatives. The service is efficient but isn’t the most friendliest you will find. Even so, Kanta feels comfortable but I wouldn’t suggest it for a romantic dinner as the place has little atmosphere. Kanta is also really small inside so they are unable to cater for tables more than six.
I am very keen to take A in the near future and I am especially interested to return for a dinner soon, as they have a braised pork belly dish with seasame teriyaki sauce that looks extremely appealing. Kanta is definitely recommended if you are in the area and looking for great Japanese food.
Thanks to TFP for a lovely recommendation and company at lunch.