Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fast Food Fridays - Jollibee

Pretending I posted this last night as planned.. :P
Reiterating from my first Fast Food Fridays - Newark Airport's Nathan's Famous post but I suffer from this thing I call "Junk Food is Greener on the Other Side" syndrome. Maybe it's the unfamiliar menu, idiosyncrasies of flavor, unique packaging, novelty of location.. most probably all the above, but other fast food outlets outside my day to day reach always seem so much cooler!? ;)

Jollibee is a Philippine based fast food chain that I found out about recently on Mary's Blog. Like I had no clue they existed and turns out there are actually quite a few here in SD. Googling I also found Kirk had done a post or two a while back on them as well..

So reading Mary's post I knew maybe not to get the lumpias but more or less I kinda had an idea what to expect. But whether the food agrees with my taste buds aside I was still pretty excited to get to experience something completely new from a fast food chain for a change. :)

I visited the Mira Mesa location since it was the most convenient. First up a Jollibee Spaghetti and Chickenjoy Combo (~$5.95). (I misplaced my receipts so I'll update in the future..)

Mmm, shredded American cheese on meat sauce.. I was hinted by Canine Cologne about the sweetness of the spaghetti but this was sweeter than I had imagined. Much more than what I'm used to for even Japanese fast food standards, well surpassing Chef Boyardee.

But the combination of minced meats and also cubes of ham or (could've been hot dogs) made it fairly palatable for me. More so if I had some of that pre-grated parmesan that comes in a green cardboard tube but I wouldn't be that lucky.

The chicken (called Chickenjoy here) was fairly mainstream but pretty good. :)

I read things online about a possible higher sugar content in the batter but didn't detect such. Reminded me a bit of Church's but much lighter. The two I sampled for this post were both hot, crispy and juicy. I can see myself coming back for these.

I also came across a lot of fans of JB's brown gravy on online forums, many even inquiring about the recipe. So I was surprised when I couldn't get past a strange, rather strong flavor that I at first thought was some sort of exotic spice that I never came across.

I then deduced that maybe the particular batch had been scorched at one time.. And then my final conclusion was that it was the artificial flavor that more than a few people spoke of. I just didn't think it would be this strong (and I'm no supertaster by any means). I wanted to visit other Jollibees to compare but at least during my visits to this location it was consistent.

The Jolly Little Big Bites sandwich. I had the spam of course ($.0.99).

The pandesal bun was sweet and fluffy. Had a bit too much mayo but fared to be a very decent snack (provided you're a Spam fan of course).

Too bad nobody takes advantage of pan-frying Spam to crispy edges. It's the best! ;)
On another visit I ordered a few things a la carte. A Jolly Hotdog ($1.95) and another Chickenjoy ($1.85) to hedge my lunch bets.

I was really curious of that slathered 'signature dressing.' Grated cheese and ketchup is also added onto this "Classic" version of the Jollibee Hotdog. To me not the most compatible combination of condiments but at least the buns were nice and steamed.

Hmmm. Very sweet. Although on their official site they claim the sauce is "cheese based" to me it was much closer to a tartar sauce that had been further sweetened. The wiener itself was otherwise very ordinary. Off the shelf skinless Ball Park or Oscar Mayer-ish flavors.

The amount of sauce was a bit much and I probably personally wouldn't be getting this again. Was fun to try though. :) The chicken was just as great as the first, but I still couldn't get over the strange flavor of the gravy. I really need to check out a second Jollibee location. The Cheeseburger ($0.99) arrived a little later.

I'm not sure if Jollibee boasts 100% all beef patties but I'm quite used to the fillerized stuff of fast food joints in Japan. In fact I crave the texture and flavor once in a while (and I also found this place in Mitsuwa New Jersey called GABUTTO BURGER that I'm dying to try, sorry for the tangent).

The pinkish sauce you see was more of a Russian Dressing than a Thousand Island spread, and again quite sweeter than usual. Not sure how much the fresh lettuce and tomatoes in the premium versions would've skewed my impression but as with their hot dog I felt it was to be a one time experience.

If you're one of my blog's longer followers you might remember my Three Not So Ordinary Breakfasts series. I had a lot of fun with those and I'm finally almost ready to do a part three. Anyhow I actually managed to fit a visit to JB in the morning before heading into work one day.

I went for the sweet pork Tocino breakfast meal ($4.95). Before I opened the container I could already smell a waft of garlic which I thought maybe was from the tocino (which I never had) but turned out it was from the rice.(!) Not from a powder but minced garlickiness. :)

At least here the flavors of the tocino reminded me a lot of the bbq pork at Panda but without any sinewy connective tissue. Well marinated sweet savory pork pieces. I enjoyed the scrambled eggs much more than McD's where it actually seemed to be cooked on a griddle and not steamed. If you don't mind having a little garlic breathe in the morning I thought the breakfast was pretty satisfying in that Pacific Island rice fill kinda way.. ;)

Too bad that there isn't any miso soup available which for me would've completed the lovely but bit heavy breakfast..

While I'd admit I probably won't be visiting Jollibee again in the immediate near future, it was a really fun nerdy experiment. If anyone I'd be the first one to understand the phenomenon of flavors that a person just becomes attached to (like me with my MOS Burger..). So for those interested, Jollibee is here and has your back for those craving the Philippine fast food palate. :)

Jollibee, 8118 Mira Mesa Blvd #E, San Diego, CA 92126


K and S said...

sounds like a place to try at least once.

KirkK said...

Hey Dennis - I love the post..... but man, do you think Jollibee processes their food enough? BTW, that gravy tastes pretty good with enough tabasco!

caninecologne said...

great post Dennis! if you try the national city or the plaza bonita mall location, maybe you can see if the sauce is the same there (or not).

just not a fan of jollibee's. thanks for taking one (or 10) for the team!

Dennis K. said...

Hi K&S, I just couldn't pass up on something named the Jolly Hotdog... ;)

Hi Kirk, the gravy was kinda ok on top of the garlic rice. I think you commented on your post about the food looking like plastic but it's true!

Hi CC, yeah I think it'll bug me until I try another location. But everyone seemed to be enjoying their meal with gravy ok except me..

Darwin D said...

Man Dennis, you really make me miss Jollibee! I probably haven't had it since my last visit to the Philippines but after looking at the spaghetti, I'm craving it now! If the spaghetti is the same as the Philippines, they are actually chunks of hotdog in there. So good and sweet! Haha.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Darwin, you must be then Filipino? Bangus! ;) Yeah the spaghetti was really sweet. I think I could do it again if I had some kraft parm cheese with me.. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Dennis! Pandesal and Spam sounds good to me. I'd have to pass on the sweet spaghetti sauce, tho. Ate way too much Chef Boyardee as a kid to ever enjoy it as an adult.

I drive by that Jolibee in MM so many times and yet never stopped in. Might go for the chicken, tho.

Mary said...

haha, Dennis, you are braver than I am trying all of that stuff on the menu. Kudos!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

No pie? I haven't been, but want to try their fried mango pie.

caninecologne said...

yeah, wc - their mango pie is good!!! now i'll eat that!

dennis - just got back from SF and we went to jollibee's in the SoMa district - we tried the chickenjoy 2 pc w/gravy and 1 side. fries suck'd and the gravy tasted like it came out of a packet or a jar. didn't taste wierd tho'. iwe saw the jollibee's and i thought of this post and i figured, wtf, let's do this! ha ha!

by the way, my dad used to put hotdogs in our spaghetti - didn't really like that. my dad never poured a cup of sugar in our sauce either, thank goodness. i hate sweet spaghetti - it just tastes wrong!

Anonymous said...

I've always been curious about this place. It's something I want to try once. BF says the ones here aren't very good, but in the Philippines they are yummy and popular. I love how you tried so many diff items!

Dennis K. said...

Hi CAB, I might've gotten lucky with my fried chicken but I enjoyed them both times. Nothing to go out of your way for but if I were hungry and in a mall with a JB, I'll most probably order from them again.. :)

Hi Mary, there were many more curious items like the fried fish Bangus but I think I hit my Jollibee limit for the time being. Maybe someday.. :)

Hi WC, I think they also have the purple ube ice cream as well. Unfortunately I don't have the slightest of a sweet tooth.... :P

Hi CC, did I inspire you to try junk food?? haha that's too funny..
Hot dogs in spaghetti sauce doesn't sound like such a bad idea actually.. I remember my dad being upset at the sweet meat sauces in Japan. But JB's definitely takes it to another level.. ;)

Hi Kirbie, I think many fast food chains are better at the source so I can imagine. My curiosity in trying JB was maybe to get to experience general flavors that many Filipinos seem to enjoy. It was interesting to try and see for myself.. :)

caninecologne said...

we also ordered a halo halo for our daughter, which had jackfruit ice cream and ube ice cream. of course it didn't look as good as the photo on their posters. i saw the fried bangus advertised as well. i just don't like bangus - too many bones, altho' i'm sure they serve it deboned. heh heh.

Janice D. said...

Hi! Great post - I've never even been to a Jollibee AND I'm a Filipina. Thanks for the "report" - still unsure if I'll give it a try. *wink*

Dennis K. said...

Hi Janice! To be really honest I think I was most excited about the Jollibee logo plastered all over my meal box.. ;) In fact I kept and still have the wrapper for my burger, haha..

Dennis K. said...

Oops, So sorry CC, I skipped your comment by mistake!! I just love the word Bangus! haha.. I'll have to try it next time at JB and report.