Celebrating 69 Years of Max’s Famous Fried ChickenCover Story Features
October 12, 2014
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
FOR MAXIMO GIMENEZ, an unrivaled recipe for chicken is all it took to take his modest Philippines cafe and turn it into the modern-day restaurant chain Max’s of Manila, which over the years has become a worldly empire for exceptional Filipino dining.
With approximately 130 establishments in the Philippines alone, Max’s has rapidly spread its reach across the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Here in the Islands, the initial locale opened nine years ago in Waipahu, followed by the Dillingham branch in 2010.
According to Maly San Luis, general manager of Max’s in Hawaii, the Gimenez family continues to head global operations of the company, and the recipe for the prized chicken still is classified.
In laudation of Max’s of Manila’s 69th anniversary, Tuesday, Oct. 21, marks the restaurant’s annual Chicken Blowout, where customers will receive half off the regular price on a whole Max’s Fried Chicken. The $6.88 special deal is available during business hours for dine-in and takeout (while supplies last). “There is no limit on chicken purchases. You can enjoy it in the restaurant, and then take a couple (chickens) home for dinner,” says San Luis.
Max’s Fried Chicken — sans batter — is marinated and deep fried a gorgeous golden brown. The meat is tender and juicy. The skin? That’s the best part — crispy and magnified with robust flavor and seasoning.
“Our Chicken Blowout brings a lot of first-time customers to the restaurant. We’re seeing a 20-40 percent sales growth ever year. In 2013, we sold a total of 2,200 chickens between our two branches,” confirms San Luis.
“Twenty-four hours before the big day, our entire staff comes together to help prepare the chickens, work the fryer, etc. It’s a long process, but it’s a lot of fun.”
While customers flock to Max’s for its famous chicken, the company has since expanded from its humble beginnings, now offering an assortment of Filipino cuisine.
Pork Adobo ($11.95) and Pancit Bihon ($8.95) are among the most universally known Pinoy dishes. Pork adobo consists of mouthwatering marinated pork chunks braised in vinegar and soy sauce reduction, and enhanced with garlic, bay leaf and whole peppercorn. Green onion, diced tomato and onion are added as garnish. Pancit Bihon, or thin rice noodles, is cooked in a savory, saucy concoction of shrimp, squid and ground pork. Adorned with bits of garlic, ground pork cracklings, green onion and boiled egg, this staple is an all-time Filipino favorite.
Gregorio Delos Santos and Nestor Manimtim are skilled chefs who previously worked at Max’s restaurants in the Philippines. Currently, they run the Dillingham branch kitchen, expertly creating Tagalog cuisine essentials, such as Kare-Kare ($12.95 regular, $19.50 large), tender stewed oxtail and beef shank simmered in a rich peanut sauce. This native delicacy is accompanied by shrimp paste for additional gusto.
Home-cooked fare, including Bulalo, appeals to patrons reminiscent of their homeland and family in the Philippines. Priced at $16.95, Bulalo features osso buco, bone marrow, cabbage, bok choy, green onion, peppercorn, garlic and corn on the cob submerged in tasty, clear beef broth.
“The beef flavor is very prominent,” San Luis explains. “You’ll notice in Tagalog cuisine there are great Spanish, Chinese and Malay influences.
“Popular ingredients in Filipino cooking are vinegar, garlic and soy sauce, to name a few. The ingredients that we use also are popular in other cultural cuisine, but we incorporate them differently.”
San Luis has observed a steady increase in Max’s customer base, noting that many non-Filipinos are dining more frequently.
“Chicken Blowout is a great time to come by and see what we’re all about. Our classic fried chicken is the perfect way to introduce our fare, and to begin your Max’s experience. This anniversary special also is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our loyal customers for their support and commitment to us,” says San Luis with a smile.
Max’s of Manila
Waipahu Shopping Plaza
94-300 Farrington Hwy.
Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m.9 p.m.
801 Dillingham Blvd.
Daily, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.