Monday, May 16, 2005

My Favorite Things With Gravy

1 a fish place! a chicken place! Gravy...on everything!
If you live in the west coast you are pretty darn lucky. That goes without saying of course but for a multitude of reasons. But if you like to endulge every once in a while in something a little more savory or a tad more adveturous then heck, California is hard to beat. Yeah, Florida does have its eccentricities gastronomically I suppose but it also caters to old folks. Really old folks. It is impossible to run the main drag of any Florida burg without running into a Morrison's or a Cracker Barrell. Not to mention four McDonald's within a three mile stretch! Yep, it's pretty standard when it comes to grabbing a bite to eat around here. That's why when I venture out to the mecca of all things pop culture, I have to make a stop at one of my favorite guilty pleasures...

More than a little strange but much, much, much more than tasty and satisfying, Jollibee has something for everyone...and no one! From the moment I laid eyes on it, I was in awe and more than a little bit in love. You have to understand of course that this is just the kind of bizarre thing that turns me on. As common place as Target (although not as populous), denizens of Los Angeles pass by it as calmly and routinely as if it were a person on fire. Everything from their glossy corporate marketed advertisement banners in the window to their own brand of kids meals indicate that this is a well established, polished and well known American fast food chain. Except it's not...American or widely known. Well, not outside Lost Angeles anyway, but certainly in the Philippenes' where it is headquartered and managed. It's wonderously weird food offerings certianly fit into such an adventurous locale as Los Angeles even though most palattes would stear clear of something called Chicken Joy 2 without seeing a test market on its after-effects or enjoying it's celebrity endorsed commercial (of which I do not believe any run in the L.A. markets). For someone who grew up in the midwest with a love of everything strange and Asian, I just had to try it. And I was hooked! Let's take a look at the standard Jollibee menu shall we?

From Top Left reading in western book fashion (oh you know..left to right then down left, etc...)
Chicken Joy
Will that be Chicken Joy or Chicken Joy 2? Huh, huh? Make up your mind lady, there are starving people behind you! Actually, this is a pretty safe bet if it is your first time. Basically fried chicken on the Chicken Joy and two pieces with the Chicken Joy 2. Oh, and it comes with gravy!
Jolly Spaghetti
(Reading from their own menu description) "What happens when premium quality spaghetti noodles, creamy cheese bits and thick, sweet-tasting red sauce come together? Truly, Spaghetti Special is one of the reasons why people keep coming back to Jollibee." I personally think it is because of the chunks of hot dog that are in the sauce...seriously, massive chunks of hot dog. Not sure why it's not in their description.
Palabok Fiesta
My personal favorite, I'm such a creature of habit. I can't put this one down. A combination of bihon noodles topped with a a special pork-shrimp sauce(however they do that), garnished with pork strips, shrimps, toasted garlic, flaked smoked fish, pork cracklings and sliced eggs. I think the eggs are a nice touch, I have no idea what pork cracklings are or that I was even eating them, the tastes just meld together. I will have to say that I used all of the gravy that it came with .
Jolly Crispy Fries
Also a safe bet. I love the fact that they just thumb their nose at the whole health conscious titles for their dishes, including the crispy (grease soaked) fries.
Jolly Pies
Just like at McDonald's but this time with Buko Pina, Banana, Mango, Lychee or Peach Mango. The lady at the one in Long Beach (oh yes, I tried them all!) was nice enough to give me a Buko Pina one for free. Great service!
Swirly Bitz
Okaaaay, just saying that with all the media coverage of "stuff" ending up in your frozen treats these days, Swirly Bitz is not the most appetizing name I would have gone with. This is their answer to the Blizzard or Frosty..what have you. A sigh of relief when you realize there are name brand things being swirled into it such as Nestle Crunch, Cookies and Cream, ...Halo-Halo...d'oh!
Jolly Burger Steak
Umm, yeah. you go ahead and try this one for me. (from menu) "100%, 100% pure beef! Plus, a special mushroom gravy and real mushrooms served with steaming rice." This was not being served at the time I last visited two years ago. Looks like it's time to go back!
Your basic fast food burger. Not mentioned on the website menu anymore but still available at last visit was the upgrade to pineapple to make it the Super Aloha Champ. You had to get it just because of the name...and the pineapple.
Yum! (not pictured unfortunately)
Yes, they have something called just "Yum!" and it is a plain looking burger with some sort of sauce peeking from under the top bun. The picture is scary in a way that it just sort of grins at you. If you go to Jollibee and are going to be all Republican and limit your adventure to just ordering a burger, then at least get this one as it has a "special" sauce. Now before you do, let's review: Philippino cuisine, gravy on everything, something called halo-halo. Go for the burger with the secret special sauce!
Also not pictured: Jolly Shakes, Shanghai Rolls & the Jolly Hotdog
Watch 'yo ass Ronald!
Started in 1975 as a two-branch ice cream parlor, it later expanded its menu to include hot sandwiches and other meals. With encouraging success, Jollibee Foods Corporation was incorporated in 1978 with seven outlets to fully explore the possibilities of a hamburger concept. Thus was born the company that revolutionized the fast food industry in the Philippines.
Not only has Jollibee taken the shine off the Golden Arches by snatching 65 per cent of the fiercely competitive local fast-food market, it is also the only country where a local outlet has managed to keep McDonald's in second place.

Hmmm, I'm thinking the Jolly Dog with rice and a fried egg but you really just don't ask questions when you get your food here.

The afore-mentioned Jolly Spaghetti complete with hot dog bits.
Halo-Halo update!
Halo-halo (from "halo" = mix) is a favorite Filipino dessert or snack. It is basically a mixture of sweet preserved beans(red beans, chick peas), coconut meat (macapuno), jackfruit (langka), pounded dried rice (pinipig), sweet yam (ube), cream flan (leche flan), shreds of sweetened plantain (saba), filled with crushed ice, milk (or coconut milk) and topped with ice cream. The halo-halo basically is sweet, creamy, and a filling dessert.
The entrance to the pleasure den.
As I mentioned before, walking into a Jollibee establishment is like walking into a world where nothing makes sense but it seems like it should because it is so well packaged and presented. Like leaving your country and everything you know about it's culture and being dropped right in the middle of Manila in the length of one short cab ride, then pretending to understand exactly what comes with a Super Jolly Kids' Meal, so you just fake it. That is basically the precise feeling of excitement and awe you you can't focus because it is all so new to you, you want to try everything. As it is basically an ethnic restaurant of sorts, it is also nerve-wracking if you are like me because 9 out of 10 times, you are the only white person in there. Rest assured though, good eatin' is gooood eatin' any way you slice it. Whether it contains pork cracklins or Halo-Halo, as long as it comes with gravy and they serve Coke products, it's cool in my book.


I'm crazy about the bee...don't "eff" with the bee when I'm around bitches!

Visit our friends at Jollibee here and see if you are lucky enough to have a store near you!

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