It took a bunch of friends from New York to drag me all the way to Jersey City in New Jersey to have dinner at Max's Restaurant - the East Coast's very first franchise of this popular restaurant chain in the Philippines. It opened only three months ago and from all indications, this Pinoy food mecca is going in the right direction. First of all, its location is right smack in the heart of Little Manila in Jersey City's thriving Five Corners district. On the very same block are at least two big Pinoy businesses, the Phil-Am Food and the Red Ribbon Bakeshop - which make this restaurant a great addition for Pinoys hankering for some familiar dishes.
It was a busy Friday evening we got there but since we had reservations, we were immediately directed to our tables. There are two floors, the main dining room being up on the second floor which sits 110 guests. Our group - more than a dozen! - had no problem digging up what's on the menu. It was simply a matter of choosing the "set menu" which for one price included several of our favorites. They have three variations of their set menu, priced anywhere from $135-$155. We had the soup of the day, Miki Bihon, Kare-Kare, Bistek, Lumpiang Shanghai, Pancit Sotanghon, Lechon Kawali, Max's Fried Chicken (of course!), steamed rice, soda and dessert. Some extra stuff ended up on our table, like San Miguel beer and Sago't Gulaman.
Much as there were plenty to eat, the fried chicken, Lechon Kawali , Kare-Kare and Miki Bihon really won me over while the rest were just so-so. Service was quick, coming from a crew of young Fil-Ams who were also very eager in singing "Happy Birthday" to celebrants that night. The decor of the entire place is pleasantly muted, accented with Filipino-themed paintings hanging on the two dining rooms. Overall, the dining experience was worth it and I won't certainly complain having to cross the Hudson River next time just to eat here again.