It used to be that the fast-food chain idea was to cram as many people as possible into a cookie-cutter space, feed them as many cheap, unhealthy calories as you could get away with, then make it uncomfortable enough for them so they would leave.
But as we have all moved on from this formula to seek a more comfortable dining experience – and will happily pay for the added service – restaurants chains need to move on with us.
Enter Maxim’s, a catering brand that many, if not all, Hongkongers were raised on. They own Starbucks and multiple restaurant chains such as Peking Garden, Jade Garden, City Hall, Rice Paper, House of Jasmine, Maxim’s Cakes, Lian, Pearl on the Peak, Lawry’s the Prime Rib and Cafe Landmark.
Now they’ve created a cross breed of their popular brands Starbucks, Simply Life and Maxim’s Cakes into one shop: Maxim’s & You.
Maxim’s & You looks like a poor man’s Classified or The Pawn. It has mismatched furniture in a modern Swedish style, low Ikea tables and chalkboards instead of menus. They also have racks displaying tin cans of tomato sauce, baked beans, soups and condiments, all of which you are about to be served. Now I don’t know about you, but I can crack open a few cans of beans on my own to make dinner. I wanted something fresh, or at least something with fewer preservatives. We settled for the spaghetti bolognese set ($52) that includes soup and a drink, and also the grilled ham and cheese sandwich ($26). If you want three courses of carbs, then you’ve come to the right place. The soup, a ‘cream of X’ (even the server was unsure) was reheated canned soup with not a lick of cream flavour, but instead a flour-based thickener with some bread cubes mixed in. It was served in a Simply Life tin coffee mug; the packaging of this and indeed the whole place was cute, but we wanted substance.
The spaghetti wasn’t spaghetti at all but ramen noodles. Eh? The sauce was thick with ground meat, but so overly sweet that it reminded me my annual visit to the dentist was overdue. The cup of milk tea was of course made with sweetened condensed milk. And yes, they serve Starbucks coffee.
But it’s not all bad in this cross-branding wonderland. The grilled ham and cheese sandwich, which uses Maxim’s Cake’s pai boa egg bread, was worth coming back for, or making at home if you wish. The super-soft egg bread was smashed with pre-sliced American cheese and a sliver of ham on the griddle. It came out oozing processed cheese; what rainy days were made for.
Maxim’s & You has the concept right; given the current economic times, people want a playground dining experience right now. They want trendy and they want a place to hang out. If Maxim’s spent more on its food costs, this concept could really work.
Shop 159-160, Hau Tak Shopping Centre, Tseung Kwun O, 2177 1534. Daily 11am-10pm. Meal for two: around $110.
|Venue name:||Maxim's & You (Closed)|
Shop 159-160, Hau Tak Shopping Centre, Tseung Kwun O