Max’s World Take Out has tiny menu, a world of tastes
July 5, 2011
By Emily Baer
Max’s World Take Out has as much personality as its owner and chef, Edna Noronha. After all, she named her small restaurant and catering business after her German shepherd, of and with whom she has professionally photographed pictures hanging on her walls.
Though Max’s menu is limited to a dozen or so items, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in flavor, variety, flavor and did I mention flavor yet? Not the overwhelming, gluttonous kind, though. No, a light, perfect contrast of spices and textures. All of Max’s food is fresh, preservative free and prepared from scratch, right down to the tortilla chips.
Originally from Goa, in the southwestern part of India, Edna blends Indian, Korean, Portuguese, American and Goan influences with almost scientific precision. Fortunately for Issaquah residents, Edna wasn’t satisfied with a master’s degree in business administration and returned to school at age 41 — this time to the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in New York. It was there that she mastered her craft, though many of her creations are recipes passed down from her mother that she has tweaked to taste.
The chicken tikka masala is both delicious and refreshing. It’s your standard Indian curry dish, but Max’s rendition is anything but standard. Squarish chunks of tender chicken and slices of soft potato absorb the cumin-dosed, creamy curry sauce that envelops them. Edna departs from the curry’s typical coconut base, opting instead for cream.
Despite the lush ingredients, the tikka masala is more sundress than wool coat in terms of heft.
If you go
Max’s World Take Out
Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.
The African chicken is succulent and spiced appropriately. Buy the whole breast instead of the half and use your leftovers for taco meat.
Max’s chicken curry is similar in texture to the tikka masala, but not at all in flavor. Let’s just call it tikka masala’s deviant twin.
Upon first hitting the tongue, the coconut milk base exudes a warm sweetness. Soon the spice kicks in, electrifying the combination of spices. Most dishes can be made mild or spicy. I, being the spice wuss that I am, opted for mild. But not to worry, tamale lovers, Edna knows hot. If you’re too macho for her spicy dishes on their own, she has created a piquant sauce that can be added to any meal.
The fish taco dish, made with wild Alaskan cod and coleslaw, is a must-try simply for its Pacific Northwest feel. From the perspective of a friend with a more reasonable zest tolerance, “They’ve got a little heat.” Max’s coleslaw, a popular side, goes well with the cod. It’s a bit sweet, tangy and sprightly. As if you hadn’t already guessed, the tortillas are homemade.
“Honey, do you want rice with that? OK, good.”
Edna suggests a side of basmati rice in her sassy accent (Is it Hindi, Portuguese or a Goan dialect? Or maybe a combination? I don’t know.) for most dishes. The inherently light basmati grains are infused with what tastes like fresh lime.
Good ol’ American-food-lovin’ picky eaters shouldn’t be deterred. Max’s offers wild Alaskan cod fish ‘n’ chips. The fish is light and crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. The chips are, well, fries.
Max’s menu includes a beef dish for extreme carnivores as well as vegan and vegetarian options, “but not just dishes thrown in a pan like other restaurants — real vegetarian,” Edna said.
The menu changes periodically as Edna experiments with new flavor and texture combinations.
Main dishes average $12. Let’s be real, though, you’ll spend at least that much anywhere but a fast food restaurant, and anywhere can’t compare.
Max’s table space is undeniably tiny so you have a decision to make. Option one, you can dine in the venue and be served by Edna herself, possibly in a kitchen-side table. If you couldn’t tell already, Edna is quite talkative and loves to converse with her customers about the career — or is it hobby? — she loves. Option two, you can bring your take out to a Lake Sammamish State Park picnic table, your backyard or some other beautiful Issaquah spot.
You can’t miss Max’s red-and-yellow sign located on Front Street. Really, don’t miss out.
Emily Baer: 392-6434 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.