More than a year ago, Winnipeggers (especially the Filipino community) were all raving about the news that Max’s fried chicken is coming to Winnipeg. It was initially announced that the Filipino’s favorite friend chicken restaurant will open in Fall of 2018. After some delays, Max’s finally arrived and had its soft opening on January 10th. As soon as the news that the restaurant was opened came out, Winnipeggers went crazy lining up to try the famous tender, juicy and crispy Max’s fried chicken as well as their other equally popular Filipino cuisines.
When I was still in the Philippines, Max’s was one of my favorite restaurants. I used to work in Ortigas, Pasig and there was never a week that I missed dining at Max’s restaurant on my lunch breaks, and more often than not, I will always order for the platter meal consists of leg quarter of Max’s chicken, pancit canton (egg noodles) or pancit bihon (rice noodles), rice and Max’s caramel bar.
I thought that I will visit this newly-opened restaurant a couple of months after its opening, as I am discouraged to come because of the long waiting line. But last Monday (January 14th) I decided to give it a go with some friends who like me were curious if the Winnipeg branch will have that delightful tasting food that we remembered about Max Restaurant.
Since there was a long wait, two of our friends went ahead, they arrived at 5PM and we were able to take our seats 10 minutes before 6PM. We were a party of 11, 9 adults and 2 kids. Because we are all excited, we ordered 9 items from their selection. Of course, we got their signature whole chicken, pinakbet (vegetable stew), laing (taro leaves with coconut), lechon kawali sisig (sizzling diced pork belly), pork sinigang (pork tamarind soup), kare-kare (beef peanut stew), crispy pork hock, pancit canton and pancit bihon. We want to have milkfish sinigang but they weren’t serving it yet as of our visit. We also tried ordering classic pork sisig (sizzling diced pork) but they run out already, hence, we ended up getting the lechon kawali sisig. Most of us ordered sago’t gulaman (tapioca and gelatin) for our drinks, sago’t gulaman is the Filipino version of bubble tea, but for me it’s way better. Then, we had halo-halo for our dessert and two people shared each serving of halo-halo.
How about the taste? They did not disappoint us. All of us agreed that everything that we ordered tasted good. I’m glad that they were able to preserve the quality and taste of Max’s fried chicken – juicy and flourless but still crispy. The Max’s fried chicken experience will not be the same if you will not dip it in Jufran banana catsup, believe me it’s a must!
Since everything tasted good for us, I will just name my favorite and my least favorite from the food that we ordered. I actually have 2 favorites, the pancit bihon and the kare-kare. I’ve always love pancit from Max’s and their pancit canton was my favorite, but this time, of the 2 kinds of pancit that we had, I love their pancit bihon better. Their kare-kare was amazing, the 9-year old kid that went with us could finish a whole bowl of it. I can’t think of the right way to describe it but the combination of the really tasty, nutty, salty taste made their kare-kare really delicious.
My least favorite would be the laing, since my husband is a Bicolano, he has affinity to food cooked with chili pepper and gata (coconut milk), because of that I have tasted different kinds of laing, so I somehow know how a good laing taste like. Their laing is not bad but I feel that it needs more pepperiness taste and more gata.
One thing that disappointed me is the presentation of the food especially the kare-kare and the sinigang, my friends and I were all expecting that these 2 dishes will be served in a palayok (clay pot) just how they are served in Max’s Philippines, but it came in an oversized white serving bowl which made it appeared that the food in it was served in a small portion. I am sure they could find a better bowl than the ones they used so the food would still look appetizing even if it’s not in a palayok.
I’ve seen a lot of comments in Facebook about their price, some people were saying that the food was pricey. I can’t really say that they are expensive. It’s a full-service restaurant, in comparison to the usual amount that we pay when we eat in other restaurants, I feel that the price that we paid for our food is just the same. Maybe because some of us have dined in in Max’s Restaurant in the Philippines, we tend to convert the amount to peso, hence, if that’s the point of our comparison, we will find it really expensive.
All in all, my very first Max’s experience in Winnipeg was a good one. The staff and the owner of the restaurant were all friendly and attentive. I don’t really mind the slow seating, because the taste of the food was worth the wait. I know that most Pinoys like me would say that “you can’t beat home-cooked Filipino food,” and I will not argue with that, but if you are looking for a go-to Filipino food restaurant in Winnipeg, this is the place.
And if you’ll ask me why I didn’t order for the platter meal… they don’t have it yet. But for sure they would have more items in their menu in the future. And yes, we eat all the food that we order with steamed rice.
Momsie’s Ratings: PRETTY GOOD. I would definitely come back to this place with my husband and my kids and I’ll make sure that I will try their caramel bar (one of my favorites from Max’s bakery corner).
Location: 1255 St. James Street, Winnipeg, MB R3H 0K9