Jollibee Mascot - © hanapbuhay via Flikr

Menu Madness: Jollibee Coming to Canada

Remember, way back in 2014, when I brought you news of yet another crazy Burger concoction – this time, improbably, from the Philippines? And remember how I said maybe it was a good thing that you’d have to go all the way Manila to taste it? Soon, you may be able to get one in Winnipeg…

Palabok Fiesta - © Jollibee

The fave homegrown Fast Food chain in the Philippines, Jollibee, is coming to Canada. “Why?” you ask. “Don’t we already have more than enough Chicken and Burger Joints – so many, in fact, that they are scrambling to stay relevant and profitable in the face of crushing competitive pressure in their small market space?”

The answer is simple. Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto will all be getting at least one Jollibee outlet soon, the Winnipeg one slated first to o pen, next year.

“Why Winnipeg?” you ask. Seems there’s a really large Filipino immigrant community there. They even have their own newspaper. And they’re really stoked about having a Jollibee in their town.

“So, what do they serve that’s so different from the usual North American Burger Joint fare?” Where do I start?

How about Breakfast…

They have what they call Breakfast Joys which consist of a protein – Corned Beef, Filipino Beef Tapa, Hamburger with Gravy or Hot Dog. Each comes with a scoop of Garlic Rice and a Sunny-side Egg. The version with the Gravy is called the Steak Joy. With a name like that, it better be a gooood Burger! But the crowning glory of the Jollibee Breakfast menu is the Tapa plate. Tapa is a Filipino delicacy consisting of thinly sliced beef, marinated in Soy Sauce, Sugar and spices and fried fresh just before serving. It’s the first thing I’ll be ordering when a Jollibee opens up in my town!

For Lunch and Dinner…

They offer the usual selection of Burgers – Beef Patty, Cheese, Lettuce, Bacon and whatever on a Sesame seed Bun.  But they also offer Fried Chicken. It looks a lot like the KFC we’re all familiar with, here. You can even get Buckets of it to take out. But I’ll bet it tastes different! It’s served with Rice and Gravy. There have two sizes; a regular smallish Burger and the CHAMP, a 1/3 pounder that comes up in other dishes, as well.

The Rice Dishes are right in line with Filipino tradition. There’s the All-Day Bangus platter – Fried Milkfish (called Awa in Hawaii) with spicy Soy sauce and a scoop of Rice. Then, there’s the Ultimate Burger Steak; a 1/3 lb. / 175 g Beef Burger on a bed of Fries with a scoop of rice, a Fried Egg and Mushroom Gravy. The Garlic Pepper Beef is thinly sliced Beef, fried and topped with Spicy Garlic pepper Sauce. And, of course, there’s a scoop of Rice.

The Noodle Dishes are a little disappointing. Just two dishes. But remember, Filipino diet literally runs on Rice. They have a Spaghetti plate with Red Sauce and Cheese on top. That’s the anchor of the Kid’s Menu, too. But the star, here, is the Palabok Fiesta (pictured above). I may source a recipe and make some myself, I’m so anxious to try this one! It a bed of Angel Hair Rice Noodles topped with a mixture of Fried Shrimp, Smoked Fish, Pork Crispies and slices of Hard-Boiled Egg. Over all is the Palabok sauce, a thick and spicy Shrimp-based concoction.

The Verdict…

Jollibee seems ready to take on the Fast Food World with its extensive and diverse menu. But I think non-Filipinos will flock there for the Filipino specialties! The only thing that concerns me is the price. I’ll be really curious to see how the price of their standard YUM Burger costs compared to its McD’s, BK, Wendy’s and other indigenous counterparts…

~ Maggie J.