Written by Mr. G – as a follow up to his previous post on the Pinoy-loved brand. I got an email from him earlier that fateful day deciding that he wants to brave the Pinoy queuers in Jollibee to get it over and done with.
He We and came out satisfied and full and he came up with this. The review is too good and posting of this article shouldn’t be delayed!
It’s here! It’s here!
Arguably the biggest thing to happen to the Filipino community in Singapore since Western Union opened its doors – Jollibee has finally arrived! Yes, the
restaurant Filipino fast food chain famous for its sweet spaghetti and unlimited gravy has landed in Singapore like a big red bee of happiness splashing (chicken) joy over the smiling faces of the Pinoy masses.
There will be no prizes for guessing where the good people at Jollibee decided to open their first Singapore branch: it could only be Lucky Plaza. Hiding amongst the pasalubong shops and money remittance branches, Jollibee now occupies a large portion of the sixth floor, and its queue occupies the other half. Sadly, the Filipino community’s gain is Happy V’s loss. Happy V was a knock-off Jollibee that had created a niche for itself in Lucky Plaza with its imitation Jollibee menu. It remains to be seen whether its logo of a big letter V can compete with the red smiling bee.
Speaking of the bee, Mr Jollibee himself has been making his appearance known at the new outlet. A cry of “Waaaaahhhhhh!” can be heard every time the six foot bee jumps out and poses for photos with happy customers. So far Jollibee have not announced if Mr Jollibee is classified as a local worker or “foreign talent”. It also appears that hiring Mr Jollibee may have filled up the restaurant’s quota of foreign workers as unfortunately his friends Twirlie, Hetty, Yum and Popo (J: Bravo on your Jollibee knowledge and well done on your good research! ^_^) were nowhere to be seen and are presumably still back in the Philippines waiting to hear if their work passes have been approved.
So how is Jollibee Singapore? Everybody I have spoken to about the new Jollibee warned me that the best course of practice would be to avoid the place for the next six months until the queues had calmed down (J: I told him I will never set foot in Jollibee until after three months!). News reports and rumours from friends confirmed that the crowds at Jollibee were extremely high and approaching levels only seen before in Singapore when Ikea discounted its meatballs one day to ten cents. However, unable to contain my curiousity for six months, I found myself braving the hordes of chickenjoy addicts and joining the throng just ten days after its opening day.
At first glance the queue was not so bad – no worse than some chicken rice places in Raffles Place at lunchtime. Then my eyes followed the queue into the waiting area that snaked around the side of the restaurant and knew that I was going to be waiting for quite some time. A huge line of people triple-backed on itself in the waiting hold which was composed of mainly Filipinos, a handful of Singaporean families who were excited about joining such a long queue (“Look how many people are queuing! It must be good!”), and one very obvious white guy (myself). I joined the carnival-like atmosphere of the queue and settled myself in to a long wait. For everyone’s information, I joined the queue at 18.11 on a Thursday evening and ordered my food at 20.11 – EXACTLY two hours later. The shutters to join the queue were closed down at about seven o’clock, but I have heard rumours about people still queuing late into the night and forcing the store to stay open till 2am in the morning. The general consensus seems to be that the crazy queues are only going to die down after 3 – 6 months, and that Sunday (when Singapore’s large Filipino maid community enjoy their day-off) is a definite no-go.
So….. two hours later, we reached the front desk. The service staff did a commendable job of being friendly despite what must be a very tiring and long non-stop working shift for them (J: A call out to Ate Susan – very friendly and nice, all smiles). Despite the long queue it was actually easy to find a table as most people were ordering take-out, plus the entire restaurant was admirably clean considering the sheer amount of people that were passing through it. We ordered the chickenjoy with rice and gravy, plus a Yum burger with TLC and a chocolate sundae (J: He had the extra Yum, I didn’t. Just want to make it clear). We also ordered the Jolly Hotdog but this was sold out and seems to be the most popular and fast-selling item.
Chickenjoy and rice: A HUGE thumbs up for the chickenjoy! Arguably the best fast-food fried chicken I have tasted in Singapore. The pieces were large and tender – not overly battered and full of flavor. I have tried the chickenjoy in the Philippines and didn’t much care for it, but I found this chicken to be absolutely delicious – kicking Popeyes and KFC into 2nd and 3rd place. The rice was just standard rice and nothing special, but what do you expect from rice? I just hope that the quality of the chicken continues and isn’t just a new opening phenomenon. J: I agree. Their chicken seems bigger and, erm, juicier than the ones in the PH.
Drink: Unlike in the Philippines, the main drink offered is Pepsi, not Coca Cola. This made no difference to me as I ordered the root beer.
Gravy: As a northern Englishman, gravy is an important component of my life. It flows in my veins instead of blood. One of the problems of Singapore is that the other fast food restaurants like Popeyes or KFC that offer gravy as a side in other countries unfortunately do not offer it in Singapore. Thankfully Jollibee rectifies this situation. With a chickenjoy meal one carton of gravy is provided, and extra cartons can be purchased for 25 cents each. I was sad that it wasn’t unlimited and free like in the Philippines, but I can understand with the crazy demand and queues why this is not possible in Singapore. The taste? Delicious, and a great accompaniment to the chicken.
Yum Burger with TLC: This was the only disappointing aspect of the meal, though to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. My Filipino friends (J: His wife also told him so) tell me anyway that Jollibee is all about the chicken and not the burgers. I have to agree with this. It isn’t a bad burger, but places like McDonalds do much better and more varied burgers and the Yum Burger sadly does not compete. My advice is to go for just the chickenjoy or the hotdog. However, if big bosses at Jollibee are reading this, please consider bringing the Jollibee Double Hashbrown burger to Singapore as that is your one burger I actually think is amazing!
Sundae: Standard chocolate sundae, very similar to its counterparts in McDonalds and KFC.
Overall, it was a very satisfying experience. There are a few items from the Filipino menu missing from the Singapore menu like the palabok (J: I want palabok too!!!) and the Champ/Aloha burger which may disappoint some fans, and I don’t believe there is currently a breakfast menu. Old favorites like the burger steak and the spaghetti are on the menu but I didn’t really see anybody going for these options as chickenjoy seemed to be the major draw. I would recommend Jollibee as a great alternative to the familiar fast-food faces that already exist in Singapore – just adjust your expectations accordingly for the extremely long queues that currently exist. Take an iPad, a downloaded copy of Candy Crush, and some friends and you’ll be fine.
PS: Rumour has it that a 2nd Jollibee is going to open in July following popular demand. Perhaps they should build it next door to the existing Jollibee to help alleviate some of the queue!
The first outlet of Jollibee in Singapore is located on the 6th floor of Lucky Plaza along Orchard Road. Nearest MRT is Orchard Road NSL.