There are lots of places to eat at the Kenwood Towne Centre, and the mall’s food court has seen numerous businesses come and go over the years. Most of the stalls in the court are large chains but a few are genuine small-scale operations. China Max (formerly known as Max Oriental) has been a mainstay in the court for years, in a stall between two major food chains near the back of the dining area.
Bourbon Chicken, Orange Chicken w/ rice: $6.50
Regular mallgoers instantly recognize Max Oriental as the place where someone is always standing yelling at passerby to get a free sample. Aggressive marketing clearly pays off when the little food stall has weathered its larger competition, including another Asian cuisine stall opening on the other side of the food court. The other stall focuses more on non-Chinese foods but many of the dishes overlap.
The food is very rich. Too rich for my blood, to be honest. While you will genuinely enjoy your meal at Max Oriental, your system will not enjoy the sheer quantity of salt and sugar flooding it as you try any of the dishes from the tiny menu. There are a few types of chicken and noodles to go with the rice but not much else. Healthy options are at a minimum and almost everything on the menu is fried.
Some of the food was also overcooked when I came to give it a taste. The General Tso’s Chicken was blackened, as were the egg rolls. While the options I tried had ample sauce and were very filling, but I was running for a cup of water the rest of the night. It’s hard to describe, but I didn’t taste the salt immediately. It just made me thirsty later, no doubt by shocking my system with a swift kick of sodium.
I’ve tried a few different dishes, Bourbon Chicken and Orange Chicken among them, but the differences in taste were, to me, minimal. To the unrefined palette, it all tastes like sugar and salt in thick sauce. The flavors blend and run together. I tried each separately, then I mixed them a little, and I was disappointed to find either option tasted the same. Crab Rangoon and egg roll options came of bland and weak.
The service was good and the food was fast but the selection was so small and unhealthy that it was a severe distraction from the rest of the experience. Still, I like Max Oriental and I enjoyed the experience there though it felt like I was indulging in a guilty pleasure. I just wish it was better for me.
- Max Oriental is fast and convenient food. It’s potentially a nice option if you’re spending all day at the mall and don’t want to drive anywhere to eat.
- There isn’t a lot of choice on the menu, so what you see is what you get.
- Bring water. The food can be a little on the salty side.