Max’s of Manila Sizzles With Sisig
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With locations spread out internationally — including two Hawaii locations on Dillingham Boulevard and in Waipahu — Max’s of Manila is known for sharing its traditional Filipino cuisine with the world.
General manager Maly San Luis explains that Filipino eats from the central region of the Philippines, where Manila is located, are very accessible to the general population, giving something for everyone to enjoy.
“Manila regional food is authentic Filipino food, yet a lot of the ingredients are things that people will recognize,” she explains. “It has a lot of familiar tastes.
“Filipino food is a melange of Chinese cuisine, mixed with some Spanish,” she says. “So a lot of these ingredients are what you would see in these types of cuisines, but just prepared a little differently.”
Just last week, Max’s launched its Sizzling Sisig Festival, which features various dishes served on a sizzling plate. One option is Chicken Sisig ($9.75), which features diced Max’s chicken and liver accented with celery, onions and seasoning. This dish already is on the menu and has proven to be popular.
For those who want to try some new sisig dishes, the festival has introduced some new creations as well. Enter Bangus Sisig ($15.95), which is a boneless milkfish marinated with onions and ginger.
The festival also offers Lechon Kawali Sisig ($13.95) — a crispy pork belly flavored with a special savory sauce.
“The pork belly is seasoned and very tender,” San Luis says. “And then we chop it up and season it and serve it on the sizzling plate.”
If it’s pork you are craving, the festival also will feature its Classic Pork Sisig ($9.75), marinated pork cheeks broiled and cut into small pieces. This dish originates from the province of Pampanga.
“This one is made out of pork cheeks, and it is kind of crunchy,” she says. “It’s a delicacy.”
In addition to this new promotion, Max’s of Manila has been busy ramping up for its holiday menu, which includes a Seafood Paella and a holiday package that features the paella, Max’s Chicken and Crispy Pata.
On the Side
Max’s of Manila opened in the Philippines during World War II by Maximo Gimenez, a professor who befriended American soldiers stationed in the Philippines.
“The soldiers would come over to eat and drink socially,” explains general manager Maly San Luis. “But soon they were coming so often that they insisted on paying, and soon it became a coffee shop and eventually a restaurant.”
The speciality at the time was fried chicken — a dish that still reigns supreme at Max’s today.
“It kind of grew from that, and today it is a complete Filipino menu, but the chicken still remains one of the main dishes that the restaurant is known for,” San Luis says.
When Gimenez started the restaurant, he enlisted his niece Ruby to do the cooking. These days, the restaurant is run by Max’s grandchildren alongside Ruby, who created many of the recipes.
Over the years, the restaurant has expanded to include nine locations in North America and more than 130 in the Philippines. Max’s of Manila will open in Las Vegas next month and Canada before the end of the year.
Contact Christina O’Connor at email@example.com
Max’s of Manila
801 Dillingham Blvd., Honolulu
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.