Take Your Midday Meal to the Max

Columns What's for Lunch?

January 19, 2014

Story By: Rachel Breit | Photos by: Rachel Breit

Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Filipino cuisine or new to Southeast Asian gastronomy, there’s something for you at Max’s of Manila, especially around lunchtime. The sit-down eatery typically hosts happy patrons sharing a feast of assorted dishes heaped with steaming favorites served family-style. From 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, however, lunch specials furnish diners with individual and complete meals — tastes of entrees that would ordinarily come super-sized.

So take your pick. Whatever you’re in the mood for, even if it’s not 100 percent authentic Filipino cuisine, Max’s of Manila has a lunch special for you (six of them, in fact) priced at $8.50 each.

For those accustomed to Filipino fare, Inihaw Na Liempo needs no introduction. It’s grilled pork belly — juicy and slightly chewy pork belly. Sliced thin and cured, you’d know it as bacon. Cut thick, marinated in soy sauce and lemon juice, and grilled — well, you’ll want to get to know it in this form. The flavorful pork belly features distinct layers of texture: chewy fattiness, hearty meatiness and charred bits of crispiness. Dillingham branch manager Elizabeth Joven likens the cut of meat and preparation to kalbi. Some say pork belly is the “new” bacon. Decide for yourself.

Don’t feel like pigging out? Fish Filet with Black Bean Sauce is “a favorite for those that don’t like too much meat,” says Joven. The not-so-Filipino dish — battered and fried sea bass laden with thick, gingery Chinese-style black bean sauce served on a bed of bok choy — is, nevertheless, a catch.

At Max’s, vegetarian dishes sizzle, too. Sizzling Tofu entices taste buds with spicy mayo-covered cubes of fried tofu. The sauce gets its kick from jalapenos and red and green peppers. “You can ask to make it hotter if you want,” adds Joven. Or, similarly, dial it down to mild.

Lunch specials also include side dish options: brown jasmine rice; steamed white rice; garlic rice (with crispy minced garlic); or Shanghai lumpia, along with tossed salad or ensalada kang kong (ong choy “shaped like a volcano” seasoned with sesame oil and topped with diced tomatoes). Of the many items Max’s serves, the lumpia is its pride and joy. Hand-made on-site with ground pork, celery, carrots and onions, “it’s one of the things we are really proud of,” says Joven. Dip the lumpia into the homemade sauce and savor them.

Max’s of Manila

801 Dillingham Blvd. #108, Honolulu
Daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

94-300 Farrington Hwy., # F-1, Waipahu
Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sundays, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Westgate Shopping Center, Waipahu, HI 96797

Honolulu, HI 96817

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Hawaii's Best