Say the words “Max’s Restaurant” to any Filipino and that person will start waxing poetic about family gatherings where the tables were spread with a variety of local specialties, mostly fiesta fare like kare-kare or a dish of pancit guisado, and platter upon platter of a real classic: Max’s Fried Chicken.
In 1945, just as the Second World War was ending, a schoolteacher by the name of Maximo Gimenez made the acquaintance of several American soldiers near his home in Quezon City. It is said that the army lads would head over to the Stanford-educated Max’s house for drinks and the liquor would be accompanied by a whole fried chicken cooked by Max’s wife Ruby. When the war ended, at the insistence of his friends, Max opened a restaurant where Ruby’s deep-fried chicken would take center stage. The rest, as the story goes, is history.
Say this about Max’s chicken: it’s just a properly seasoned bird thrown into a wok or soup pot of boiling oil. No breading, no secret blend of eleven herbs and spices (which, alas, probably smacks of MSG), no fancy gimmicks: just a properly cooked chicken – period. Even in such glaring simplicity, it’s the sort of dish people have and then go back for. There’s just something about the chicken: moist all throughout, even the breast which tends to dry out in most cases. The golden skin just crisp enough; the meat flavorful on its own.
Die-hard Max’s fans swear that the only dip for this dish is the Jufran Banana Ketchup that appears by the bottle at one’s table. But, seeing how I eschew most sauces, this is one dish I can devour on its own with a relish. Definitely sarap [delicious] to the bones!