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Manka Peruvian Kitchen

216 Glen St Glen Cove, NY 516-801-1519

Manka Peruvian Kitchen, located in Glen Cove.

(Credit: Michael Falco)

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Critic rating: 2.5

User rating:
3
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Type: Spanish Price range:

$$ (Moderate)

Description:

Glen Cove's newcomer is an unpretentious little strip mall spot that pays homage to the land of chef Boris Torres' birth. His training as both architect and chef comes through in his dishes, with food that has color, texture and flavor. Though dessert isn't quite a hit, the rest of the fare served at this dining spot makes up for it, and then some.

Hours:

Lunch specials, Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; dinner, Monday to Saturday 5 to 10:30 p.m., Sunday 5 to 11 p.m.

Ambience:

Good

Service:

Good

Credit cards:

Accepted

Accessibility:

wheelchair accessible

2.5

Although Boris Torres grew up working in his parents' Queens Peruvian restaurant, he chose a career in architecture, not gastronomy. It took some time before he realized his true passion. After getting a culinary degree and cooking at some of Manhattan's top dining destinations, now Torres has opened a restaurant of his own, Manka Peruvian Kitchen -- an unpretentious little strip mall spot that pays homage to the land of his birth.

His training as both architect and chef comes through in a tiradito of grilled shrimp and calamari, the cool marinated seafood as prettily plated as it is refreshing. An appetizer of cold green mussels topped with a bright Peruvian relish is arranged with art and flair -- and tastes even better than it looks. One day, at lunch, a generous, colorful octopus salad steals the show with its interplay of color, texture and flavor.

To sip with such fare: one of Manka's fine Peruvian cocktails. Consider a pisco sour, topped with whipped egg whites. Or a sassy pisco caliente, with mango, mint and rocoto peppers.

On the homey side is a tamal (the Peruvian version of a tamale), a savory union of a Peruvian corn masa and chicken. Chicken, in fact, is a specialty here, coming off the rotisserie bronze and juicy, its nuanced marinade penetrating every fiber. At both lunch and dinner, you'll often see families sitting down to well-priced rotisserie combination platters.

Reflecting the polyglot nature of Peruvian cuisine is a comforting dish called aeropuerto, which brings together chaufa, the Peruvian version of Chinese fried rice with lo mein noodles and seafood. If you're after something more eye-opening, try the cool, lustrous, flawlessly fresh mixed seafood ceviche, raw fish and seafood "cooked" by its citrus marinade. But a cooked seafood dish -- pan-seared corvina (a firm white fish) al ajillo -- is rather dull, its creamy sauce devoid of even a hint of the promised garlic. Much better is the classic Peruvian stirfy called lomo saltado featuring smoky strips of steak, vegetables and French fries -- which somehow works. For vegetarians: a flavor-intense "risotto" of quinoa and mushrooms.

Rice pudding, though, is overwhelmed by cloves, the custard called leche asada is pretty humdrum and what's described as a pastry filled with caramel turns out to be just a cookie sandwich.

After a meal such as Torres is capable of putting out, who needs dessert anyway?

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