Max’s Restaurant, which landed on Singapore shores at Far East Plaza, started in 1945 after WWII. The Stanford-educated educator, Maximo Gimenez, befriended the American occupation troops stationed at Quezon City. They visited his place regularly and insisted on paying him for the drinks.
His niece, Ruby, served the fried chicken, which drew both American and Filipino crowds. In fact, it got so famous that Max’s Restaurant is come to be known as “The House That Fried Chicken Built.” Besides Philippines, it has outlets in Middle East and North America, and now, in Singapore.
Max’s Fried Chicken ($16.80 half, $28.80 whole), which comes with sweet potato, is recommended to be eaten with their banana ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. By itself, it is just alright. It is tender and the skin is crispy, but it is bland.
Knowing that I was coming to Max’s Restaurant, not one but TWO Filipino friends independently recommended to order the fried boneless bangus ($16.80) or milkfish.
It is marinated in vinegar before deep-frying so there is a sourish taste to the fish. It’s not unpleasant but it takes some getting used to. But it’s fried excellently: crispy but not oily, meat is juicy.
Almost all tables around us ordered the Max’s crispy pata ($30) but not the fried chicken. It’s deep-fried pork knuckle with a side of soy-vinegar dip that can serve up to 4 to 6 people.
It is okay. Gamy.
We couldn’t finish so we took away. Next day, I threw the leftovers in the rice cooker to cook together with rice. The rice soaked up the pork oil. I ate it with belachan and coriander, as shown in my IG story. I thought my pork rice is more delicious than the original dish.
Pinakbet ($12.80) is the only dish on the menu that says “MUST TRY.” It consists of shrimp, bittergourd, ladyfingers, string beans, eggplant, pumpkin, and kangkong, sauteed in bagoong (fermented fish).
Not sure if it’s a “must try” as stated on the menu, but it has every vegetable known to humankind here. So it must scratch some green craving. Taste wise, it’s not bad but I would not say it is a “must try.”
The best thing we had was the halo halo; every table ordered one. The halo halo-s I had before are all so similar to ice kacang that I did not have high expectations for this.
But this is different. It consists of half a flan (which is probably the Filipino dessert), yam ice cream, corn, coconut jelly, caramelised banana, jackfruit, and a red bean paste that has a salty aftertaste. It sounds weird–a salty red bean paste–but it adds depth and interest to the dish.
The different elements combine well together and provide a variety so you won’t be bored. However, the ice shards are a bit big; would be better if they can have finer ice.
My Filipino friends say in Philippines, they only go to Max’s Restaurant during celebrations like birthdays. They also say that this Singapore outlet is better than those in Philippines because they take time to prepare the food here.
We are indeed lucky to have Max’s as a casual restaurant that we can go any time, but like a casual chain restaurant, I feel that the food is just so-so. It’s not terrible but I would not strongly recommend it. If my friends want to go, I don’t mind, but I won’t suggest it.
We paid $84 for two persons but we over-ordered so that we could write this review. It’s probably closer to less than $30 per person.
14 Scotts Road, Far East Plaza #01-07 Singapore 228214
tel: +65 6909 8504
11am – 10pm daily
Price / value: 6/10
Ambience / decor: 6.5/10
You may be interested in…
–International Fried Chicken War: Arnold’s Fried Chicken @ GV Yishun 10; Jollibee @ Lucky Plaza; Ssiksin Chicken @ Nex Serangoon
–Asian Food: Penang Kitchen (Tanjong Katong) VS Kabayan Filipino Restaurant (Lucky Plaza) VS BaaMee Bangkok (Jalan Besar)
–Balai Kainan, Lucky Plaza
–Bonifacio, Tanjong Pagar
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.