Dining Out: Bold, comforting Filipino food, piping hot and fresh at Kanto 98 St.

Casual, quick and delicious, “street food” restaurants have become a popular choice in Edmonton of late. They’re a step up from the awkward food truck experience of balancing flimsy plate, drink and curbside seating without the fuss and time commitment of a fancier restaurant.

Tres Carnales was among the first to bring street food indoors. Now, chef Edgar Gutierrez of the celebrated downtown taqueria has opened his own little spot featuring the food of his homeland, the Philippines.

Kanto 98 St. opened in April. Like some of the city’s other street-food focused restaurants like Dorinku (Japanese) or NongBu (Korean), the dishes here might be unfamiliar to diners who have never eaten on the streets of Tokyo, Seoul or Manila.

No worries — the friendly staff at Kanto will happily explain the brief menu, which includes a mix of traditional Filipino dishes with influences from China (bao) and Hawaii (poke).

Kanto means street corner in Tagalog, a nod to the source of the food that inspired it. Gutierrez’s kanto is in Chinatown, along 98 Street as the name confirms, just west of the neighbourhood’s main drag and down the street from the Mildly Chinese Herbal Centre.

Inside, the narrow room has about 15 seats with a counter/prep area along one wall and, on the other, a graffiti-style mural of Filipino comics above a row of tables. At the entrance, a large, fun photo of the chef’s mom, taken many decades ago in the Philippines, shows her holding a rifle, looking fierce in a very unmenacing, mini-skirted kind of way.

Hip-hop music plays at just the right volume. Order at the counter and staff bring the food to your table when it’s ready.

The night we visited, the small space was hopping. Takeout is also available, although the stack of Styrofoam containers visible in the kitchen was disappointing — there are plenty of greener options.

The food, however, was anything but disappointing. Everything our group of four tried was delicious — piping hot and fresh, with bold and comforting flavours. We ended up just sharing all our plates, so keen were we to have everyone try what we’d ordered.

The bao boy ($15) was two warm, plump rounds of steamed bao bun, each wrapped around a rich chunk of soy-marinated pork belly, pickled cucumber and green onion. You can also get fried chicken or braised beef as fillings.

We also tried the kaldereta ($15), a flavour-packed dish of spicy braised beef in

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Lifestyle

      

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