Jollibee is a Filipino fried chicken chain also famous for their Filipino-style spaghetti and peach mango pies, and this is their first ever Toronto location.
The chicken is so popular over a million pieces are sold a day worldwide at over 1,100 locations including ones in Hong Kong, New York, Las Vegas and Dubai. This is their 40th North American store, but it’s an appropriate place to set up shop as Toronto is home to the largest Filipino population in Canada.
Upon entry you’re greeted by a life-size figure of the Jollibee mascot, a giant red and yellow bee wearing a chef’s hat, graphics inside screaming “bee happy!” Order at the counter and receive a buzzer that notifies you when your order is ready for pick up on the right.
Jolly Crispy Chicken ($14.99 for a six piece bucket, your choice of original or spicy) is the main event here: if you’re not familiar with the chain, you can think of it kind of like a Filipino KFC.
A mix of breasts and drumsticks, the coating is as crispy and the meat is as juicy as promised, with good bite-through. The gravy is also renowned, thick and peppery.
You can also make your bucket a combo with a family pack of Jolly Spaghetti and three peach mango pies ($33.99), or do a piece of chicken with a side of Jolly Spaghetti and a drink for $8.49.
If you’re not familiar, Filipino-style spaghetti is your typical long noodles topped with a distinctly sweet sauce with chunks of ham and hotdog and ground meat as well as shreds of cheese.
Almost like a distant relative of Cincinnati chili, the sweet sauce is a bit of a curve ball but the noodles are al dente and the sauce is meaty and cheesy.
You can also create combo with one piece of chicken, a drink and the Palabok Fiesta, a dish of very thin noodles topped with a very garlicky orange sauce, crumbled crushed pork rind, a few juicy little shrimp and sliced hard-boiled egg.
Peach Mango Pie ($2.49) is like a better version of a McDonald’s apple pie, the distinctly tropical fruit filling oozing out almost dangerously with every bite.
The exterior shell is deep-fried to golden brown with a crispy, bubbly texture that’s almost like an egg roll.
In addition to your usual fountain beverages you can also opt for a Dole-like pineapple juice. There’s no drive-thru here like some other locations, but there is ample seating.