While Jollibee has continuously out-shined fast food giants back home in the Philippines, it's a little-known secret here in the States. Despite its expansion to US cities like Los Angeles and Cerritos, the chain remains relatively unknown outside of the Filipino community. Yet within this community it has become a beloved staple of Filipino-American childhoods, with a curious menu featuring pancit noodles next to fried chicken and burgers.
For those of you unfamiliar with the chain, here are the three things you need to know about Jollibee:
1. It's the Filipino McDonald's meets KFC, but better. Disagree at your own risk.
2. Do not leave any Jollibee without getting the spaghetti and fried chicken combo. Your face will melt off.
3. The mascot is a huge red and yellow bumblebee with a dainty chef hat, also known as Juicy J (unrelated to the rapper).
We ventured to a location in Eagle Rock, LA to peek the offerings and asked the cashier to hit us with the most popular dishes. This is what we got:
This ladies and gents, is fast food halo halo. A deliciously blasphemous take on a traditional Filipino dessert. Comes loaded with ube ice cream, a chunk of leche flan, sweetened condensed milk and a mix of sugar-infused crack fruit and jellies under a bed of shaved iced.
Also peek the Ube Pearl Cooler with boba (purple) and Buko Pandan Pearl Cooler with boba (green).
Dubbed "Fiesta Noodles" for American palates, the chain does a pretty decent job of recreating pancit palabok -- a Filipino favorite of rice noodles doused in garlic sauce, chopped pork, shrimp, slices of hard-boiled eggs and parsley flakes.
A burger with a beef patty topped with a thick pineapple ring and an inglorious amount of bacon. Basically Jollibee's interpretation of the whopper but better. Oh so much better.
Chicken Joy and Spaghetti Combo
It's important to note that Filipino spaghetti is loaded with banana ketchup, which gives it a distinct extra sweet taste. Jollibee's version of this features their own sweet spaghetti sauce packed with chopped up ham, sausage, ground beef and melted cheese. Then there's the fact that they serve fried chicken. Seriously. Heaven has landed.
Peach Mango Pie and Banana Langka Pie
Taking a cue from McDonald's classic apple pies, Jollibee tweaks the recipe to include flavors that cater to Filipino cuisine. Think flaky, sweet crust filled with slices of peach and mango or banana and langka (jackfruit).
If you've been to Jollibee and see one of your favorite dishes missing, let us know in the comments! We have a feeling this is going to be one of many Foodbeast adventures.