Monday, September 22, 2014

Max's Restaurant set menu C

Max's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The place was crazy busy this past Saturday evening when our little group went. Non-stop line-ups till probably 9pm or so and they were pretty full with reservations (which you can make online with OpenTable). When a place is that popular, it must surely be good, right? And a Filipino restaurant filled with Filipino patrons was another good sign.

Inside it looks sort of like a large McDonalds. Bright and spacious. Private rooms host larger groups and birthday parties. One of the plusses was that it looked clean and maintained. I also had a report that the handicap washroom was really ace, clean and even with music playing.

Our group was recommended the set menu options, and more or less at random we went with Option C plus a few extra dishes. A "Full Table" order of a set menu is 2 orders of each item listed and recommended for a party of 10. A "Half Table" is 1 order of each and recommended for a party of 5. We were seven persons so we went with a Half Table plus a few extra dishes.

Set Menu C: ($179.99 Full Table, $89.99 Half Table)
  • Max's Fried Chicken (regular price $14.99)
  • Soup of the Day
    • "Soup of the Day" that Saturday night was a thin mushroom soup that looked suspiciously like Campbell's Cream of Mushroom plus beef broth. And no, it wasn't thick and creamy -- definitely soupy.
  • Miki Bihon (regular price $8.99)
  • Lechon Kawali (regular price $13.99)
  • Kare-Kare (regular price $14.99)
  • Steamed Rice
    • "Steamed Rice" was 5 small bowl's worth for a Half Table.
  • Pop
    • Our "pop" was either Coca-Cola or Pepsi or some reasonable facsimile. Your glass can be as much as 33% ice, depending on luck of the draw when they filled it. Also, it was flat. Where's my fizz to make it a "pop"?
  • Caramel Bar
    • Your "Caramel Bar" dessert is as pictured on the right. It is 2 inches long, 1.25 inches wide, and 0.5 inches thick.
Under NO circumstances should you order this or any set menu. The main dishes total $52.96 out of $89.99, meaning soup + rice + pop + caramel bar = $37.03 or $7.41 per person.
Here's how the rest of the dishes turned out:

  • Max's Fried Chicken (half chicken $9.49, whole chicken $14.99) The original and classic fried chicken that made Max's a Filipino institution. Golden fried to perfection with a nique blend of special spices.
    • A rather small chicken, fried whole.
    • Dry meat! Overfried? Fluke kitchen error?
    • Nothing really special here. You can get tastier chicken from KFC original recipe, and probably a comparable amount of chicken (dark) meat for half the price. And if they fried it freshly for you, you can count on the meat to be moist as well.
  • Miki Bihon (Egg and Rice Noodles; $8.99) A blend of egg and rice noodles sautéed with vegetables, pork, chicken and shrimp.
    • This was passable for $8.99 and you get a Chinese restaurant sized portion for that price.
    • Nothing particularly tasty here. The primary attraction is portion-for-price.
  • Lechon Kawali (Pork Belly; $13.99) Pork belly deep fried until crisp and golden brown, yet soft and tender inside. Served with liver sauce on the side.
    • This was one of the tastier items. Not much meat for your dollar, more like a large appetizer portion.
    • Tender meat and with a nice layer of crispy skin.
    • Very fatty, which is to be expected for pork belly.
  • Kare-Kare (Beef Peanut Stew; $14.99 regular, $19.99 large) Beef shank and oxtail with vegetables simmered in thick peanut sauce, served with shrimp paste on the side. A native delicacy.
    • Orange-coloured stew stew!
    • Did not taste of peanut to me
    • Why was this lukewarm?
  • Crispy Pata (Crispy Pork Hock; $13.99 mid-size, $18.99 full-size) Premium pork hock simmered in a special marinade and deep fried to perfection. Served with soy vinegar dipping sauce.
    • Another pretty decent item just for the crispy pig skin.
    • Portion is like a large appetizer. Looks big on the plate, but there's a good chunk of bone there.
  • Filipino Bistek (Beef Steak; $11.99) Thinly sliced beef sirloin sautéed in onions, lemon juice, soy sauce and gravy. Topped with fresh onion rings.
    • OK, but not particularly tasty.
  • Leche Flan ($3.29) Custard made from egg yolk and milk, topped with caramel syrup.
    • Smallish portion, but you'd probably be charged $6 for it if you were dining in Yaletown.
    • OK as flans go, but quite firm.
  • Buko Pandan ($4.99) Young coconut mixed with pandan leaf (screwpine) gelatin and tapioca in a rich fluffly cream sauce, with macapuno (coconut) ice cream and rice flakes.
    • A rather tasty dessert, and at basically $5 you do get a decent portion for price.
    • The rice flakes give this an interesting texture along against the smooth creaminess.
Worth a try if you're there anyway is the Banana Sauce on the table. Tastes like sweeter and less-sour tomato ketchup. Pretty much no banana flavour, if you're worried about banana on your food.

Overall I think what Max's does best is crispy pig skin and the desserts. However, my experience could be a bias from not having grown up with this sort of food. Maybe Max's Restaurant is popular with the Filipino community because of the nostalgia?

If you're going, definitely make reservations. Even small group (2-4 person) drop-ins can experience a long wait on weekends. And there's no bar seating where singles can squeeze in for a quick meal.

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