For those of you who don’t know, Jollibee’s is the Philippines’ answer to McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), all rolled into one. In the Philippines, Jollibee is bigger than McDonald’s. They serve fast food Filipino-style, with choices like burgers, fried chicken, spaghetti, french fries and white rice. There are a few already in the U.S., but this one is the first in Houston, Texas.
Checking It Out
Well, as you can guess, my wife and I had to stop. They had just opened about a month ago, and were packed with customers at lunch time. The obvious growing pains of a new staff combined with a busy restaurant made service a bit slow, but I expected that with a packed restaurant and a line almost out the door.
A majority of the customers appeared to be Filipinos who wanted a taste of home, although a number of non-Filipinos trickled in for lunch as well. American fast food, Asian/Hispanic style1.
Having eaten at Jollibee’s in the Philippines, the one in Houston was true to the taste of the originals. Same menu and same flavor. Filipinos will savor the taste of home. For everyone else, eating at Jolibee’s will be an interesting experience.
We ordered a medley of items, including the Yum Burger, fries, spaghetti, and a chicken leg. While the execution could have been a little better, everything was good.
The Fried Chicken
Most people seemed to be getting the fried chicken, which is branded as “Chickenjoy.” The chicken leg we had was tasty and should be familiar to anyone who has eaten at KFC, Popeye’s or Church’s Chicken. For non-Filipinos, the fried chicken is probably the safest item on the menu, since it has the most “American” taste compared to everything on the menu (i.e. you probably would not know the chicken came from a Filipino fast food restaurant if not told).
Like other fast food chains, each brand has it’s own signature taste. Just like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, White Castle and Whataburger all have their own style of making burgers, so does Jollibee’s. If you can tell the difference between a Burger King Whopper and a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese, you definitely will be able to spot a Jollibee Yum Burger or Aloha Burger. The only way you will know if you like it, is to try it.
Yes, I said spaghetti. This fast food place serves spaghetti. In fact, the poster in the window proudly states that their spaghetti is “Meatiest. Cheesiest. Spaghettiest.” And they are not lying. It is pretty tasty, and has a flavor that Filipinos will be very familiar with, and non-Filipinos might be a bit surprised at. Filipino spaghetti sauce is a bit sweeter than American spaghetti sauce. So don’t expect Ragu, and try a new taste.
You can’t be a fast food restaurant selling burgers without fries, right? Their french fries were cooked to perfection, not too hard and not too soft. Even tastier when you get them fresh out of the fryer. Unlike most American fast food restaurants, Jollibee’s fries are not heavily salted. If you like your fries salted, like I do, then be sure to ask for some salt packets with your order.
The White Rice
Don’t want fries with that? How about some white rice? Probably the biggest give away that this is an Asian fast food restaurant and not an American one. 🙂
Try Something New
If you haven’t been to Jollibee’s before, check it out and tell us what you think. I am curious how non-Filipinos take to American Fast Food, Filipino Style.
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