Crabs for dinner at Maxim Restaurant, Darra, Brisbane

Diets and I don’t mix.

… that should be pretty obvious, right?

Should I ever utter that I want to go on a diet, it would be so out of character, the SO and friends would probably tackle me to the ground and strip search me for alien implantations.

But hey! If a colleague is about to start her own diet and needs to pig out for 2 days prior as part of said program, I am not one to not take advantage of the situation. Especially when she has been raving about this restaurant and once visited it two days in a row.

Maxim Restaurant is a Chinese and Vietnamese establishment, in which looks like the sticks.

No, I’m not kidding. We drove through used car yards and into a very quiet dark suburb to find a rather tired looking building. Without appropriate lighting, we could barely make out the signage that said ‘Maxim Restaurant’.

The interior reminds me of kampong style restaurants in Malaysia, Thailand, etc. – chandeliers that seem out of character amongst the tacky chairs (cushioned, but still…), sheets of plastic on top of tablecloths and disproportionate lazy susans.

I was told Maxim Restaurant usually does not have entertainment, but they did that night. I am not one for dinner entertainment – it’s often cheesy and cringe-worthy – and this was definitely one of them.

Two of my colleagues did the ordering, since they were familiar with the tome of a menu. It is pretty extensive and might be intimidating for those unfamiliar with the cuisine. Do not be afraid to call over the lady boss, as she is really helpful and seemed happy to provide advice.

Maxim Restaurant has a reputation for their swamp crabs and do them 3 ways – all of which we ordered. The price of the crab varies, so don’t forget to ask. At the time of this post, the crabs were $30 per kg.

Crab with ginger and shallots on a bed of noodles


Singapore style chilli crab


Salt and pepper crab

Don’t be surprised if the crab dishes arrive first, so you’re bound to get your fingers dirty right off the bat. The crabs were fresh, ridiculously fat and succulent – plenty of flesh to pick off the shell. However all were males, so lacked the cholesterol-laden coveted roe, which is a little disappointing.

While it’s a colleague’s favorite flavour, I thought the Singapore style chilli crab could have done with more sauce. And a side serve of ‘man tou’ 饅頭 (Chinese buns that are steamed and then fried). Surprisingly they don’t have ‘man tou’ on the menu.

My favorite was the crab with ginger and shallots. The bed of noodles soaked up the sauce and was delicious! The type of noodles might not be consistent, as a colleague shared they usually had the egg noodles, whereas on this occasion, it was wheat noodles.

Stir fried beans in garlic

The other dishes we had included tofu with egg sauce (it was drowning in the sauce, but silky soft and eggy), stir-fried beans in garlic (our attempt at being healthy), fried chicken on a bed of bak choy (delish!), deep fried flounder (surprisingly fatter than I expected, but oh-so-crispy!) and deep fried chow mein with assorted seafood (it was ok – the seafood wasn’t particularly fresh).

The total came up to AUD$224 for 8 people (and a 5 year old), which works out to about AUD$28 per person. Which isn’t too bad when everyone was stuffed to bursting-point.

If you’re familiar with ‘zi char’ (煮炒, sometimes pronounced zhi char/zhu chao), this is probably the closest I’ve experienced to the authentic home-style Chinese cooking from back home here in Brisbane. It might not be as cheap as back in the motherland, but if you can round up a good troop of hungry friends to join you, Maxim Restaurant is the place to chow down and get your hands deliciously messy.


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