Taking it to the ‘Max’

Columns Veg'n Out

May 10, 2015

Story By: Andy Beth Miller | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Swaying palms, glistening white sands and crystal blue waters amid warm, tropical temperatures. It’s not just the weather that reflects how similar in many ways the Philippines is to Hawaii. Also synonymous is the way that Filipino cuisine has evolved over the years to include a number of ethnic influences such as Malay, Spanish, Chinese, and American, as well as Asian and Latin — sound familiar?

It’s just this type of mouthwatering melange that Max’s of Manila is known for, and the eatery bridges the gap between Oahu and its own origins by bringing the flavors of the Philippines straight to our Island tables.

And lucky for us vegetarians, Max’s of Manila (now with two convenient locations in Waipahu Shopping Plaza and on Dillingham Boulevard) proudly includes the veggie-friendly cuisine that both countries embrace as well. Famished, and more than excited for our noontime foray into vegetarian Filipino fare, Veg’n Out sat down to enjoy these three savory selections.

Filipino cuisine often is distinguished by its bold combinations of sweet, sour and salty flavors, and this mixture is perfectly seen in Max’s Sizzling Tofu ($8.95). Served on a sizzling platter and leaning toward the spicy side (although you can request for the dish to be made mild), this hot little number presents large chunks of cubed tofu sauteed with chopped onion, and red and green bell pepper, which is then glazed generously with a special sauce.

Store manager Kate Del Callar explains, “Coupling the dish with our rice is best. It cuts the spiciness and really brings the flavors out.”

Ensaladang Kangkong ($8.50), also known as Ong Choi Salad, blends blanched kangkong (watercress) tossed with diced tomatoes and soy sesame vinaigrette. It is a light and healthy choice that Del Callar says is “quite popular, especially when paired with our famous fried dishes, as it has a slight and refreshing vinegary taste to it.”

The eatery’s Asparagus and Tofu ($9.50) rounds out the trio nicely, featuring vibrant green stalks of goodness sauteed with wood-ear mushroom, slivered carrots and served in an oriental ginger sauce with just a dash of sesame oil.

Max’s of Manila

801 Dillingham Blvd.
Daily, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

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.

94-300 Farrington Highway, Waipahu, HI 96797

Honolulu, HI 96817

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