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The House That Fried Chicken Built, Empanadas + Jeepneys, Philippines

Submitted by on July 3, 2011 – 10:55 am58 Comments

Before heading off to the Philippines, I knew I had to turn to my trusted advisers (friends) for suggestions for the best eats in Manila. I knew that if I didn’t, I’d end up coming home to phrases like “What the?! You didn’t eat at Jollibee or Red Ribbon not even at Max’s Chicken Restaurant? Why that’s blasphemy. So, a comprehensive list was compiled to ensure that our itinerary for each day was geographically centered around the restaurants I shortlisted. BOOM!

First off the rank and most recommended was Max’s Restaurant aka The House That Fried Chicken Built and rightly so. Max’s Chicken was founded by Maximo Gimenez, just after Word War II. Interestingly though, is that it was his niece, Ruby, who actually created the recipe for their famous fried chicken turning the restaurant into a household name. :O


Get down tonight.

Unlike most fried chicken institutions, they aren’t reliant on heavily battered pieces of poultry.  Now…that’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh.

In fact, the other point of difference is that they are an actual dine in restaurant chain rather than a takeaway joint. Apart from chicken, they also serve up most traditional Filipino meals.

Max's Fried Chicken

“I saw the sign, I opened up my eyes I saw the sign…”

Again, I thank the Australian Dollar during my holidays affording me the luxury to shop till I dropped (to luggage capacity of course) and no money was spared when dining out either. Mo Money Mo Problems did NOT apply here mama!

I’ve never ordered so much at one time. Although, we did receive some weird looks from other patrons and overheard a couple saying “ang takow nila” which pretty much means, they are so freakin greedy! We found ourselves on the ground laughing our heads off! Think about this: having 2 entrees, 4 main dishes and two desserts all to yourself baby!

“I felt like a king who ruled the gastronomic valley. Don’t worry; all is welcome in my kingdom…so long as you bring a dish. A taste tester will greet you in the entrance to ensure there is no poison. I need to be careful- I’m a king after all. “


Not that I was on a budget, but the Budget Meal consisted of three of my favourite things: a tender and juicy piece of crispy golden fried chicken thigh that I a pleasure of eating to the bone, creamy macaroni salad and a caramel bar for dessert. I’m not sure if you’re like me, but when it comes to fried chicken, I always save the skin till last! What I loved about Max’s Chicken is that it’s not too oily and being well seasoned- there was no need for any sauces but as with most Asian restaurants, there was a bottle of chili sauce on the table for you spicy fans.


Pancit Bihon which is a tasty combination of shimmering noodles, generous sized prawns, chicken liver and balls and of pork.

Gulaman a popular drink in Philippines

I drank Gulaman everyday in Philippines knowing full well that I couldn’t get it in Australia.What’s up with our love for floaties in our drinks?! Gulaman is made up of tapioca pearls, agar-gar jelly, brown sugar, water and ice.

Seriously Sinful Dessert

Dessert began with a chucky caramel bar but ended with the queen of the crop. I present to you, her majesty, Ube Creme Decadence.

Ube (purple Yam) happens to be one of my favourite Filipino desserts whether it be on its own, in ice cream or cake. It was beautifully smooth and light sending me to Food Rehab with its creamy custard and ube cake crumbs.

ube panna cottaube panna cotta

Come to papa….

Max's Chicken logo

Red Ribbon Bakery

I was NOT leaving Philippines until I fillied my belly with as many empanadas as physically possible. I heart empanadas and have heard so much about how Red Ribbon perfects the recipe to an art form. And rightly so. There was a good balance between the sweet wheat flour based pastry and the stuffing. Slightly flaky and crispy.

Empanadas Red Ribbon

Starting with a small outlet in Quezon City, Red Ribbon has grown into a network of over 200 stores spreading it’s freshly baked aroma across the Philippines and the world with addition stores in the US!

Just stepping into the bakery was so surreal and smelt like heavenly butter. It felt like I was finally at home. When relatives or friends would go to Philippines, I’d tell them to bring me back some “pasalubong” (which translates to goodies) from the sugary ensaimada topped with grated cheese (we like our cheese) to the buttery and fluffy mamon.

Red Ribbon Mamon Bread



In addition to many bread varieties, they also serve up some traditional Filipino meals such as Palabok (a brightly orange tinged noodle dish with pork, shrimp topped with pork crackling)  to twists on the classics like sweet spaghetti bolognese.


Mall Food

I was in complete awe at the choices of food on offer in the malls. I mean, you hear about it and all but to see it in person my jaw just dropped. In fact, there were a few dishes I’d never had before so it was a real treat just tasting everything. I’ll do a separate post on food court food in the Philippines. It’s epic.

Food courts in Philippines

Creamy the cat’s friends in the Philippines

It saddened me to see the SHEER  amount of stray cats in the Philippines- see more info here at The Philippine Animal Welfare Society website. They were literally everywhere. The cute feline we spotted was at Manilla Cathedral in Intramuros (Manilla’s forgotten Spanish past).  Just seeing them made me miss Creamy even more prompting bouts of homesickness having left her at a Cat Motel.

Stray cats in the Philippines


Certainly the most popular and most affordable mode of transport in Philippines and has become our country’s icon with owners pimping up their rides with all kinds of bling (LOL!) and extra signage. From what I saw, they were the preferred choice over buses and taxis by mall goers but riding in one can feel like a can of sardines. In the urban areas such as Makati, they have air conditioning, new engines and run on LPG. Again, another post in this one.

Jeepneys in the Philippines

I definitely experienced some culture shock being the first time I’d been back home. I got to see the urban side having stayed in Manilla and visiting the Spanish outskirts for a week and then getting severely sunburnt in the blissful white sandy beaches of the Boracay islands.

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Keep eating,


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