It's possible that you have never heard of Max's Restaurant, despite the fact that the chain has over 225 locations worldwide. Only 17 of those locations, however, are in North America, and we're lucky enough to be home to one of them here in Seattle Southside. The name of the restaurant is as unassuming as the corner of the center that it's tucked into near Westfield Southcenter Mall, almost hidden from view of the street. When you step inside, however, you realize that the small-looking entrance outside actually opens up into a sizable restaurant inside complete with a private dining space for events.
The exterior of Max's Restaurant in Tukwila.
When you come to Max's Restaurant, you'd better come hungry, since it's basically impossible to choose just one entrée. Everything is served family style, which is a good thing because you're going to want at least a bite of everything that comes to the table. Start off with mango juice to drink and lumpiang Shanghai to munch on. If you've never had lumpia, they're like little egg rolls with pork and vegetables.
Lumpiang Shanghai, served with a sweet dipping sauce.
From there, you have tons of choices. Max's Restaurant is known as "The House That Fried Chicken Built" and for good reason. Their fried chicken recipe is what put them on the map. It's not like American style fried chicken, which is breaded. Instead, the crispiness of the skin is allowed to shine with no breading weighing it down. The traditional condiments for this fried chicken are banana ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, a combination which I know sounds a bit odd, but trust me on this. The umami savory with a touch of tart that the Worcestershire brings to the table is a perfect counterbalance to the sweet-but-not-too-sweet banana ketchup. Pair that with chicken that has gloriously crispy skin and perfectly tender, moist meat, and you have a one-way ticket straight to flavor central. The plate comes with some french fries on it, but you're going to be so enamored of this chicken that you'll barely have any room for them.
Fried Chicken and French Fries.
The Crispy Pata is another dish that may not be familiar to you. It's a ham hock, or leg of pork, which has been slowly braised in a marinade until the meat is perfectly tender, then flash fried so that the skin is crisped and delicious, almost like pork rinds. A single bite of that crunchy deliciousness and you will be in hog heaven. There is a vinegar-based dipping sauce to help cut through some of the rich fattiness, but truth be told I had a hard time not directly stuffing the meat in my mouth. I cannot sing its praises enough, and I can't wait to eat it again.
Crispy Pata, served with a vinegar and soy dipping sauce.
Pancit Bihon is a rice noodle dish with shrimp, chicken, and pork - a trifecta of deliciousness - plus lots of veggies. Imagine if someone took all the same things you might add to a combination fried rice and used thin, glassy rice noodles instead of the rice. It's kind of similar, but so, so tasty. Adobo chicken fried rice was the other main carb on display, and it was richly flavorful with just a bit of the vinegar brightness from the adobo marinade.
Pancit Bihon rice noodles.
I was sure after all this food that there was no way I was going to be able to have dessert...but then they brought out the halo halo. This beautiful dessert consists of layers of fruit jellies, coconut threads (they look and feel like noodles but they taste of coconut), sweet beans, jam, shaved ice and condensed milk topped off with a few scoops of ube ice cream. Ube is a delicious cousin of the sweet potato that has a vibrant purple color, and you'll find this flavor a lot in Filipino desserts. Halo halo comes from the Tagalog word for "mixed," so despite how pretty and infinitely Instagrammable the beautiful layers in the dessert are, you're supposed to mix it before you eat it. I always take a few bites of the ube ice cream and shaved ice by themselves first, though, just to make a bit of room so I don't make a mess while stirring. If you like boba tea and the texture variation between the tapioca pearls and the tea, you'll enjoy the texture changes in the halo halo between the smooth, cold creaminess of the ice cream and shaved ice mixed together and the slightly firm but squishy fruit jellies, beans, and coconut threads.
Halo halo dessert.
On top of the incredible food, the service is very friendly and makes you feel right at home. They welcome you warmly and will hep explain anything on the menu that you might not be familiar with. The tradition of hospitality that founded Max's Restaurant back in 1945 continues to this day with the servers at Max's in Tukwila. While I saw some solo diners while I was there, it's definitely a place to go with a group so that you can sample across more of their menu. Delicious food tastes even better when shared, after all. Visit our listing for Max's Restaurant to find contact information and more.