Canto Restaurant Brings Modern Chinese and Hong Kong Flavors to Puerto Vallarta

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Henry Ho and Jeremy Reigel Share Their Love for Cuisine and Customer Service

[Editor’s Note: The restaurant is open for dinner service from 6 to 10 p.m., closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. They are only accepting reservations as of March 28, 2024 as they have a soft opening and ramp up operations. Walk-ins are not accepted yet. You can link to their reservations through any of their social media platforms]. 

A passion for food and time on their hands during the Covid Pandemic has led to the opening of a new Chinese restaurant in Zona Romantica adding to the diverse offerings which make Puerto Vallarta a culinary destination.

Canto, a modern Cantonese bistro,  has opened at Lazaro Cardenas 446, and is offering a different take on some of your favorite Chinese dishes.

Canto Chef and Co-Owner Henry Ho. Photo by Oscar Almeida.
Canto Chef and Co-Owner Henry Ho. Photo by Oscar Almeida.

Henry Ho and Jeremy Reigel, who also own Cardenas Suites, are residents of Puerto Vallarta and are combining their love for each other, and using their respective special talents to add to the culinary experience in Puerto Vallarta.

Henry, who was born in Hong Kong but raised in Los Angeles, has lived in Puerto Vallarta for the past seven years. It was where he and Jeremy met, and fell in love. That was about four years ago, when Jeremy was visiting on vacation. 

“I was introduced to Henry by a mutual friend of ours,” Jeremy explained. “Cheesy as it sounds, it was ‘love at first sight’ and by the time my vacation was over, we were already working on a plan for me to move here. And just seven months after that, here I am!”

The restaurant opened on March 28, 2024, and getting things ready has not been without its challenges.

“So far, the construction to convert the former dental office into a restaurant on the ground floor of Cárdenas Suites has been the biggest challenge,” Henry said. “We have amazing contractors who have worked day and night to make our vision come true, but despite that, there were a lot of unexpected lessons in Mexican construction and how things are done compared to the U.S. Knocking down concrete walls is a lot harder than wood and drywall! There was a massive amount of work involved to reinforce the structure to be able to tear down the walls to create an open space. That was very stressful.”

But those challenges have only made them both more determined to provide a fun and delightful experience for those dining with them. 

“Friends often ask us if we’ve watched the TV show “The Bear”, a show about the hectic and stressful world of running a restaurant, and whether that made us think twice about this,” Jeremy said. “But actually, the show was an inspiration and it just got us even more excited.”

The Pandemic

While Henry has always had a love for cooking, the lack of mobility during the pandemic had him in the kitchen with a lot of time on his hands. 

“We noticed there aren’t many options for Chinese food in Puerto Vallarta outside of the fast food places to satisfy our cravings,” Henry explained. “So while everyone was baking bread at home during lockdown, I was making dim sum! That’s when the idea of the restaurant was born. There was a space that needed to be filled and we decided we’ll be the ones to do it.”

And while Henry has owned a 20-year-old boutique graphic design and marketing agency, food is his true passion and the pandemic helped him realize that passion and that the kitchen is his sanctuary where he can express his true creativity.

“I was introduced to my love of cooking by my father and since then, food has become the center of my world,” he said. “Food to me is more than just about eating. It’s also about understanding the origins of food, learning about different cultures, and exploring new things.”

The Food and Drinks

Canto is short for Cantonese, which is the primary style of food that the restaurant will be serving. There are many North American-Chinese dishes that are inspired by Cantonese cuisine, and Henry said he wanted to bring authentic flavors and dishes that he grew up eating to Puerto Vallarta. 

The initial menu will feature Dim Sum. Dim Sum are like tapas—small dishes of various items ranging from dumplings to spring rolls.

You’ll also find “North of the Border Favorites”. 

“These are the westernized dishes that we’re all familiar with—orange chicken, beef and broccoli, and sweet and sour pork,” Henry explained. “Perfect for satisfying those cravings.”

And there is a section of the menu that Chef Henry says is his favorite – “Hong Kong Specialties”. 

“That’s where I was born and there is so much delicious food people don’t know about that I’m very excited to introduce them to,” he said. “Hong Kong cuisine is very interesting because of its history. Hong Kong was a British colony for over 150 years, and from there, many dishes were created that marry Chinese culture with the western world. One signature dish on the menu is the iconic Baked Pork Chop Rice. It consists of a pan-fried pork chop over a bed of fried rice, smothered in a tomato sauce and finished with cheese that gets baked until it’s golden brown and melted.”

And behind the bar you’ll see Jeremy honing his skills as a bartender. He’s excited for you to try his fun and creative cocktails (and mocktails) “that fuse classic North American drinks with Chinese and Mexican flavors.”

“We want to honor our adopted home by incorporating Mexican ingredients in some of our food and drinks,” Jeremy said. “The goal of the restaurant is to always have fun with the menus. We want the guests to always find new and fun things to try. We have many additional menu items that will roll out over time.”

Their Skills

While Chef Henry will be busy in the kitchen, Jeremy will be the face out front, drawing on his vast years of customer service and hospitality experience.

Jeremy was born and raised in Los Angeles – interestingly not far from where Henry grew up. He said that his passion is to make sure people are taken care of and “will go out of my way to provide a memorable experience for my guests because that’s what brings me joy.”

Jeremy said his past work in restaurants as a server, trainer, bartender, and manager will help him with the daily challenges of owning a restaurant. Since moving to Puerto Vallarta, he has managed the day-to-day operations of Cárdenas Suites. 

“This restaurant is perfect for us as a couple because of our individual strengths,” Jeremy said. “I will be managing the bar and the front of the house, making sure the guests have an exceptional dining experience. And Henry will be managing the kitchen and the business logistics. Basically, everything behind the kitchen doors is Henry’s, and everything in front of it is mine.”

Love for Puerto Vallarta

The couple both share a love for Puerto Vallarta, a town they say is full of culture and a welcoming LGBTQIA+ community.

Henry said it was his first visit in 2014, when he fell in love with “the relaxed environment, the openness, the wonderful Mexican culture, the safety I felt, the gorgeous beach and of course, the food.”

There’s a certain magic in this town that I was drawn to,” Jeremy said., “I fell in love with all that PV has to offer. I’ve always loved the beach and the ocean. Since I was a child, I’ve been enamored by marine animals, especially humpback whales because they ‘sing’. And to be able to see them from the beach, or get on a boat and get even closer to them, that just makes me so happy.”

And they both enjoy the extensive arts and entertainment scene that Vallarta offers. 

Jeremy was part of the Heartland Men’s Chorus in Kansas City and the Turtle Creek Chorale in Dallas  and loves live entertainment. 

“The top-notch talent you can find here in PV—from singers to theater shows to drag entertainers —there’s so much to enjoy and not enough time,” he said. 

Guest at a recent dinner service at Canto. Photo by Oscar Almeida.
(left to right) Marcia and Kevin enjoying dinner at Canto. Photo by Oscar Almeida.

Information to Know

The price range for the restaurant is in the mid-level range. It’s currently open for dinner service, so please check their social media for exact times. Future plans have them expanding the menu to lunch and brunch service.

Lazaro Cardenas 446
Facebook: facebook.com/cantopv
Instagram: Instagram.com/cantopv
Website: cantopv.com

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