Monday, May 16, 2011

Max's Restaurant - Philippines

Max's Restaurant is a Filipino restaurant chain serving fried chicken and Philippine cuisine since 1945.  Founded by Maximo Gimenez with the help of his niece Ruby after WWII, it is a family-style casual dining restaurant that has expanded to 120 branches in the Philippines, eight branches in the United States, and one in Canada.  Overseas it is known as Max's of Manila.  Max's delivery service is offered within Metro Manila through its hotline number 7-9000.

Its signature dish is its fried chicken—Max's dubs itself "the house that fried chicken built".  It's often served with rice and/or kamote (sweet-potato) fries.

Other items on Max's menu are Filipino dishes like pancit, kare-kare, nilagang baka, sinigang na baboy,  lechon kawali, pork adobo, bicol express, and crispy pata among others. 

Although described as "sarap to the bones!", for a signature dish Max's fried chicken is surprisingly plain; aside from possibly a little salt rubbed in, there seems little else done to the chicken before it is deep-fried to a golden brown.  Yet it is a testament to the natural flavor of chicken that from such simplicity Max's has enjoyed such longevity.  While Max's unadorned fried chicken can be a disappointment at first it does get things right by placing the focus on the chicken.  One learns to respect the dish when many years later one still finds it palatable while other seemingly more impressive chicken dishes haven't endured and have faded from memory.

In a sense basic goodness and soundness can be used to describe Max's menu lineup. All the Filipino dishes are solidly interpreted and make a good benchmark with which to compare other interpretations of the same dishes at other establishments.  However, their rice servings tend to be small.  Banana catsup, hot sauce, and worcestershire sauce are condiments at hand at every table.

Service is generally good, but the usually high volume of customer traffic at its mall locations doesn't lead to the cleanest or most relaxing of environments at those branches. Max's is a casual dining restaurant leaning more towards fastfood rather than fine dining.  Pre-packaged caramel bars accompanying some meals and Max's bakery kiosks at some restaurants drive the point home.

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