As if V&T Market weren’t enough reason to visit the corner of Front and North Franklin in Hempstead, last night I was introduced to Manila Hut, a Philippine restaurant just across the parking lot. My guide was a friendly food-writing competitor.

Because I go years between visits to Philippine restaurants, I always forget that I don’t really like lumpia, the vegetable-filled crepe that always strikes me as a less-fresh version of a Vietnamese summer roll. These lumpia did not disappoint (which is to say that they disappointed), but the meal was more than redeemed by the tortang talong, an omelet in which what seemed to be a whole eggplant had been creamily embedded. We loved the pochero pictured above, a sweet-savory stew of beef with plantains and baby bok choy. Also good was the pork adobo (stewed with vinegar and soy sauce), but its texture could have been more luxuriant.

Nothing at Manila Hut costs more than $12.95, with most entres coming in at less than $9. That said, "hut” is a poor descriptor for this restaurant, which was attractive and neat as a pin. I’m looking forward to exploring both the menu and the many bakery items available for takeout.

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