70 Years Of Filipino Fare

A La Carte Columns

December 29, 2015

Story By: Caitlin Basilio |

Embutido ($10.95) and Seafood Paella ($26.95). Bodie Collins photo

Embutido ($10.95) and Seafood Paella ($26.95). Bodie Collins photo

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Max’s of Manila. The restaurant chain highlighting Filipino cuisine made its way to Hawaii almost 10 years ago, with one location in Waipahu and another in Honolulu.

Max’s of Manila started in Maximo Gimenez’s home. Gimenez was a Stanford-educated professor who befriended American troops stationed at Quezon City, Philippines, after World War II. When Gimenez’s niece created a special recipe for fried chicken, his good company kept returning to his home for more. This led to the opening of a cafe, and then eventually a restaurant.

Today, Max’s famous Fried Chicken ($14.75 whole, $8.95 half) still is available and adored at Max’s of Manila locations. And seeing as the culture of the Philippines is no stranger to Hawaii, the restaurant is the perfect place to satisfy all your Filipino-food cravings.

The eatery also is a great place to hold large parties with family and friends, and its function rooms can fit 200 people at the Waipahu location and 150 in Honolulu. Call now to reserve a room for your next shindig.

Ring in the new year by ordering one of Max’s Holiday Specials. Highlighting Seafood Paella ($26.95) and Embutido ($10.95), these traditional favorites will have your mouth watering from the minute you walk into the eatery.

Both dishes are influenced by Spanish culture and take a lot of time to prepare. The Embutido, or Filipino meat-loaf, consists of ground pork, sausage, peas, raisins, relish and hard-boiled eggs. As for Seafood Paella, this special sizzles with annatto-infused rice and a zesty tomato base. It’s served with fish, shrimp, mussels and calamari, and can be a complete meal on its own. Although according to general manager Maly San Luis, folks usually order it as a side dish to share.

Either way, the dishes are synonymous with Filipino holiday traditions. “Whenever I see them I think about Christmas,” says San Luis. “They have a nostalgic, homey effect — very holiday comfort foods.”

Max’s Of Manila

801 Dillingham Blvd., Honolulu (and in Waipahu)
Daily, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96817

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