Apparently when asked where to get the best fried chicken, I always seem to hear Jollibee in the mix. The problemwas, I never heard of Jollibee, which meant I could never have their fried chicken! Well, Jollibee has finally arrived to Hawaii from the Philippines, opening its doors on December 14, 2010.
Though they have several locations in California, one in New York and Nevada, and soon to be in Seattle, nothing compares to their over 700 locations in the Philippines. Suffice to say, Jollibee is as synonymous as McDonald’s here in the states. What makes it so popular? Well, I went to Jollibee in Waipahu just to figure out what the craze was all about.
Thinking 2 weeks after the grand opening was enough time to avoid the long lines, I was severly mistaken. In fact, I didn’t even arrive around lunch time at noon. I arrived at Jollibee around 2:15pm, and as you can see, the line looked like I would be waiting for a ride at Disney Land. Really?
Could this place be THAT GOOD?! I thought back to a news report I saw on television, and a worker told the reporter that the restaurant opened at 5am, to which the reporter asked “why so early?”. The answer? “Oh, you would be surprised all the people buying buckets of chicken at 5 in the morning”.
Seriously, my craving for this magical fried chicken just kicked up a few notches. Now all I had to do was wait in line…a very long line. To help speed up the process, the restaurant had workers who passed out small pamphlets with the menu items to all the customers in line. In addition, they were also taking the orders so that the turn-over rate would be much quicker. Nice.
When I opened the menu, I quickly scanned through the menu items. They have their famous fried chicken, which they call Chickenjoy which comes with a side of gravy. They also had several beef dishes like the Amazing Aloha (beef patty, bacon, lettuce, cheese, and pineapple), Heavyweight Yumburger (1/3lb beef patty, with lettuce, tomato, and cheese), and their Burger Steak (mushroom gravy over beef patties and rice).
They also had a traditional Filipino dish called the Palabok Fiesta, which is basically traditional rice noodles (very thin and almost clear) with garlic sauce, ground pork, shrimp, parsley flakes, and slices of egg.
They also served their Jolly Hotdog which is a hotdog with their special sauce and shredded cheese. Finally, they have their Jollibee Spaghetti, which is noodles with a special sweet tomato meat sauce topped with grated cheese. After taking it all in, I decided to order two pieces of their Chickenjoy, a side of Jollibee Spaghetti, french fries, and a dessert they call Halo Halo.
After taking one bite of the Chickenjoy, I was an INSTANT fan. The fried skin was very crispy, the chicken very juicy, and it was piping hot and fresh!!! Wow! The gravy was also very delicious with just the right amount of thickness…wasn’t too gooey, and wasn’t too runny.
I could seriously eat an entire bucket of these, but I had to restrain myself. The Jollibee Spaghetti was quite interesting. I wasn’t a huge fan of their sweet tomato meat sauce, as it tasted more like BBQ sauce than spaghetti.
Apparently Filipinos like their spaghetti sweet, as many of my Filipino buddies used to tell me this, but I wasn’t quite sure what they were talking about. I definitely gave it a shot, and while it didn’t taste bad, it really wasn’t something I would stand in line to purchase. The fries weren’t anything special, and it tasted like normal fries.
When I finally got to the Halo Halo, I was ready for dessert. What is Halo Halo you ask? It’s basically a Filipino dessert with a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk, a variety of beans (mung, garbanzo, and white), coconut, fruit flavored gelatin, tapioca, sweet banana, two scoops of ice cream (taro and mango in our case), and caramel flan.
At the beginning, the Halo Halo was a perfect compliment to my greasy dishes, but after a while, I felt that there were too many beans and that the shaved ice could have been finer. Decent, but again, not something I would stand in line just to get. In fact, if I were looking to get beans on my shaved ice, I would recommend eating it at Sweet Home Cafe, a Taiwanese hot pot restaurant on S. King St.
If you have a yearning for the most delicious fried chicken, and you happen to be in the Waipahu area, please don’t hesitate to drop by Jolibee. Just make sure you have enough patience to wait in line, but oh, that chicken is worth the wait!