Kanta Japanese Kitchen and Sushi Bar, Langford
Kanta Japanese Kitchen and Sushi Bar is a cosy izakaya-style restaurant located next to Pharmacy 777 on Langford Avenue. It's the kind of place that would be easy to overlook and drive right past; you wouldn't expect to find an amazing restaurant here in this no-name shopping centre in a suburb not particularly known for its eateries. But Kanta deservedly has a legion of loyal fans who make it necessary to book a table if you wish to dine in at dinner time.
I'm at Kanta with Natalie for lunch. The restaurant is tiny, with seating for around 15 people. There are a couple of tables by the windows but the counter-top seats give bloggers and gluttons the added thrill of a front row view of the open kitchen. There are no secrets here, just serious, skilful cooking.
Natalie and I order several dishes to share. We always talk each other's ears off (today is no exception) but as we chat, I'm also watching the baseball capped chef, who cooks with the fluent movement and serenity of an expert in perfect control of his work. He looks up and greets customers without missing a beat, breaking into a grin as he chats with the regulars. I watch our sushi being assembled from scratch, rolled neatly, then sliced precisely. I can't wait to start eating.
The California roll (5pcs, AU$6) has an excellent filling to rice ratio, with generous amounts of avocado and omelette.
Next, we share the salmon shioyaki (salted grilled salmon, AU$9.80). The chef sprinkles salt on the salmon fillet before placing it on the grill to cook. We can hear the skin sizzling away, and by the time it's served to us, it's blackened and crisp, the salmon flesh still moist and flaky. Natalie asks for some mayonnaise to eat with the fish, and it's cheerfully provided.
My pleasure and anticipation grows as I watch our chicken karaage (AU$7.80) bobbing in the bubbling hot oil of the deep fryer. The freshly fried chicken is tasty and juicy. Next time I'll be tempted to order a serving all to myself.
As we finish each dish, the empty plate is removed by the efficient wait staff. In such a tiny restaurant, it seems excessive to have a chef, two wait staff who also assist in the kitchen, plus a fourth team member who washes the dishes, but somehow it doesn't seem crowded. The food is prepared and served quickly, diners' needs are attended to promptly, and there's someone available to deal with the takeaway orders which trickle in steadily the whole time we're there.
We also share a serving of beef teriyaki donburi (AU$9.80). The tender ribbons of beef are full of flavour, cooked with sweet soft caramelised onions and sprinkled with sesame seeds, served with steamed rice and cold mung bean sprouts.
Kanta Japanese Kitchen and Sushi Bar is another of Perth's suburban dining surprises. The food is fantastic - well-priced, simply presented, fresh and delicious. This authentic Japanese kitchen is intimate and unassuming. I could sit here for hours, eating and watching.
For the more adventurous eaters, Kanta has some dishes on their menu that are presumably not that unusual in Japan, but unusual by Teriyaki Chicken Town Perth standards, including grilled beef tongue, chawan mushi (steamed seafood egg custard), braised fish head in sweet ginger soy sauce, yukke (Korean-influenced beef tartar served with apple and egg yolk on top) and homemade green tea ice cream, which can be ordered as part of a spectacular special - a mountain of green bean and vanilla ice cream topped with red bean.
I can't wait for my next visit.
Kanta Japanese Kitchen and Sushi Bar
Open Tuesday to Saturday
Lunch 11.30am to 2.00pm
Dinner 5.30pm to 9.00pm
Kanta gets very busy at dinner time so it's advisable to book. Reservations are not taken for groups of more than six people.
Thanks to reader Sandra for first telling me about Kanta (and all the other readers who've recommended Kanta) - I'm just sorry it's taken me this long to check it out. I guess I'll just have to make up for lost time.
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