When I was invited to the new menu launch party at Max’s Restaurant, that go me thinking, how come I had not tried Filipino food after so long being in Qatar? Apart from the occasional halo-halo I had seen but never really tried, the chicken adobo which I had tasted once or twice in buffets, and little things here and there, I never had an authentic Kabayan food experience. Probably because it’s quite different from the Indian or even the middle eastern palate and not as famous as other Asian cuisines. But the adventurous foodie in me was immediately excited to try it out and guess what …its actually quite underrated – I discovered some awesome dishes! Read on to find out my 5 top picks.
I had not heard of Max’s Restaurant before but apparently it’s a very famous chain, hugely popular with the Filipinos around the world. We were at their Muntazah branch here in Doha. The restaurant has a cool and friendly ambience, just like the lovely from Philippines. It was more of in a party mode that day so I tried to focus more on the food here.
After being served drinks, appetizers and finger foods downstairs, we went upstairs for the main course. The main course arrived all at once. A variety of meat dishes, with a side of fragrant steamed jasmine rice. Apparently rice is a staple, eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner as my filipino friends informed me. It went down well with me as being from the south of India, rice is our dominant grain too back home.
So after a good 10 minutes of snapping our food, we finally dug in. I first reached for those sumptuous looking Barbecued chicken skewers. Yum! My top pick #1 sweet, tangy, umami, perfectly balanced. Not at all dry. Perfect with the rice. I later on tried the shrimp skewers. They had gone cold but the staff, upon notifying, had promptly replaced it with fresh off the grill, but I found it too dry for my taste.
Next I tried the Chop Suey which was light and tasty broth with veggies, chicken and shrimp. Very much like our Indo-chinese food. I enjoyed it. Also had the fried chicken with sweet potato fries – this is their famous fried chicken but it was I found it to be just okay – didn’t make it to my top 5.
But my top pick #2 goes to the Inihaw na baka. These were fall off the bone tender grilled beef ribs, superb flavor, aboslutely delicious and served with a tangy sauce. I totally relished it with the rice!
I then reached for the Kare Kare which is beef in peanut sauce and with shrimp paste. Looked adventurous to me so I sampled a bit. But I had not read the whole description and the adventure was abandoned as soon as I encountered a piece of tripe in it! Apparently ox tripe is one of the main ingredients and I for some reason can manage to eat a bit of all offal with the exception of tripe. If you like tripe then might give it a try….
By this time I was too full and didn’t have the space for the tofu stir fry although I must admit it looked appetizing. As for the chicken adobo, I wasn’t sure if I wanted the liver in it so I let it pass for the lack of space in my belly. All through the dinner, our filipino friends gave quite a few approving nods to most of the dishes. Means they did well in the authenticity department too.
My next top pick #3 has to be from the desserts, of course! We were served the dessert platter and Turon. Both were awesome but hardpressed between the two I would go for Turon – Fried banana with caramel and sesame served with vanilla ice cream and mint sauce. Absolutely amazing!
You might ask, dinner’s over where is #4 and #5. Well it was the two items from the Max’s Bakery in the goody bag!
top pick #4 is the Ensaymada – super fluffy, creamy, cheesy delicious goodness. I had once tried one from Lulu and it was no good. This one was far far better. Do not miss!
top pick #5 is the Caramel Bars – fudgy, dense, and nutty with peanuts. A very slight smell of egg yolks but I couldn’t be bothered. I could finish a whole box with a cuppa anytime.
I will be going back with my family inshaAllah to repeat my top picks and maybe discover more. Even if its not dinner time I will be definitely making a pit stop at their bakery for those goodies mentioned above. And I recommend you do too!