Last winter, we told you, reluctantly, that Mr. Max in Irving had closed, seemingly forever. People loved this place, were deeply passionate about it. But the owner had died; there was no succession plan. Down went one apparently great izakaya.
But in February, news came that Mr. Max had been resurrected, and I've been dying to get back out to Irving to try the restaurant. I wish I could say that I'd visited the first iteration, so I could offer some sort of comparison, but it really doesn't matter. The Mr. Max that is serving up Japanese snacks right now deserves praise on its own merit.
Inside, a few small tables seat customers low to the floor, their shoes in piles beneath them. There's more seating at the bar, but Mr. Max is not a very big restaurant and the place was full for a weeknight. If you want to visit on the weekend, make reservations.
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I worked my way through natt, raw squid, tempura shrimp, fried tofu and other snacks. I was especially impressed with a slab of grilled mackerel that was served with just some grated radish and lemon. Sitting at the bar gives you a full view of everything being cooked in the kitchen.
I drank in the customers as much as I did my warm cup of green tea, probably because everyone was having a good time. Some customers shared dishes, and most everyone was drinking. I can't wait to see what the place is like on a Friday night when it's jam-packed with Mr. Max fans chomping on agedashi tofu.
If you're coming, too, just look for the tiny storefront with covered windows tucked behind a laptop repair company. It looks a little dodgy from the outside, but the second you push open that door, your doubts will melt away like a thin sheet of nori in a hot bowl of tonkatsu.
Mr. Max, 3028 N. Belt Line Road, 972-255-8889.