Sunday, March 8, 2009

Maxim Restaurant - Phoenix

In what has become somewhat of a tradition, with Tara out of town on a quick trip home to Minnesota, I decided to get some Vietnamese food for lunch on Saturday. Usually this means Davang or Avina's, but I decided to branch out once again, despite my Scorcese-dialogued lunch the last time. I'd seen Maxim Restaurant mentioned on Chowhound and there was a very positive review in the Republic last week, so I decided to give it a try.

Maxim is located just north of the Osborne/19th Ave intersection in a tiny and somewhat rundown strip mall. They are literally just down the road from Town Talk II BBQ. They were moderately busy for a late Saturday lunch and the friendly staff waved me to an open table and dropped off a menu.

The menu is a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, with the majority on the Vietnamese side of things. All the staples were there, except for banh mi. I spent so much time looking over the menu a waitress came over and asked if I needed any help with the menu. Very unusual for most Vietnamese places I've been to. I explained that I was just having a hard time narrowing things down. I finally decided on fried shrimp and pork egg rolls, fresh shrimp spring rolls, pho tai soup and a Pepsi.

The spring rolls came out a few minutes later and at first I though they were pre-made. After taking a bite and tasting the still-warm noodles, I realized it was just the thick rice paper that had given me that impression. They were very good and the peanut sauce they came with was as well. I made short work of them.

Next the plate of sprouts, herbs, and lemon wedge to dress my pho was dropped off. Shortly after that my egg rolls came. They were fried to a beautiful golden brown and very hot. I let them cool down for a bit before I tried them. They were excellent. Marginally larger than usual, they were dense and seemed to have some extra ingredients. Dipped into the nuac mam, they were perfect. I've loved the Vietnamese version of fried egg rolls ever since I first tried them back in my later college years. I love that they are mostly meat with a few veggies sparsely mixed in. I think there were some sort of mushroom in these as well. I would have been content with about a dozen of these for my whole lunch.

The bowl of pho followed a few minutes after I scarfed down the last remnants of the egg rolls. It came in a large ceramic bowl instead of the usual generic plastic ones. The thinly sliced pieces of rare beef were mostly cooked, so I separated them and pushed them into the soup to finish cooking. The broth was very rich and I was enjoying it on it's own. Another one of the owners came over and explained that there hot sauce and hoisin sauce on the table were to season the soup to taste. Again, this has never happened before. I thanked him and proceeded to douse my pho liberally with the hoisin. It was funny how my actions were being misread as ignorance as opposed to just taking my time or enjoying things on their own first. I figure most white boys who go there must be really clueless. I added some lemon (although I missed the ususal lime) and some herbs and mixed it all well. The pho was very good and I enjoyed it as much as the other items. Once I'd eaten as much of it as I could, I went to the counter to pay.

And then the weirdness happened.

As I was paying, one of the guys sitting at the table closest to the counter, which consisted of owners/waitstaff from what I could deduce, got up and came over to the counter.

"You have a very nice face," he said. I blinked several times and said, "Um, thanks?"
"No, it's got a very nice shape." he continued. Again, I was a bit nonplussed.
"Very friendly. you look very familar. We were all talking about how much it reminds us of him," he said, pointing to a nearby image of Buddha.
I smiled. "And I've got his body as well, so it's a two-for-one," I said. They all laughed.

Buddha. Really. Usually the diety I'm associated with is from a much hotter climate, so this was a nice change.

Although I did get my clothes ready to head back to the gym tomorrow. I'm taking that as a sign from, well, SOMEONE, that it's time to hit the cardio again.

No comments: