It’s always exciting when a new restaurant opens in Leicester – and there was certainly a lot of excitement surrounding the launch of the new Jollibee restaurant last week.
So much so, that more than 100 people queued on opening day, to be among the first people in the city to try the Filipino fast food chain’s famous fried chicken.
But is the food from Jollibee really that good?
I was eager to find out, but there was no way I was queuing for hours! So, I waited until earlier this week to pay a visit to the newest eatery in town.
The Jollibee story began in an ice cream shop which opened in 1975 in the Philippines.
The shop started to sell fried chicken, burgers and fries, and when these items became more popular than the ice cream, it was converted into a fast food restaurant and Jollibee was born.
It now has more than 1,000 restaurants worldwide, serving what it describes as “a joyous mashup of Western comfort food served with a Southeast Asian twist.”
The Leicester branch is only the third Jollibee restaurant in the UK (London and Liverpool being home to the other two) and is the first Jollibee in the Midlands.
It’s also the first in the UK to sell all Halal meat.
The Leicester restaurant
Jollibee’s Leicester restaurant, which is currently open for takeaways only, is based in the Humberstone Gate unit formerly occupied by Select Fashion.
It’s been transformed into a bright, smart-looking restaurant, which features what the chain reckons is the largest graffiti mural in Leicester.
There’s two floors, with plenty of (currently unused) seating on each.
On the lunchtime I visited, there was only around half a dozen customers inside, so I felt quite comfortable heading in. As I did so, a member of staff on the door welcomed me and reminded me to use the sanitiser – as he was doing with all the other customers as they entered.
To place your order, you can use one of the three self-service machines, or go to the counter, which I did.
The menu is displayed on screens above the counter, and features Chickenjoy – Jollibee’s signature fried chicken.
You can get a two piece Chickenjoy meal, with a side, gravy and a drink for £5.49, a three piece Chickenjoy with side, gravy and a drink for £6.19, and one piece of Chickenjoy plus spaghetti for £5.49.
If you’re planning to share your food, there’s bucket meals available, priced from £19.99 for eight pieces of Chickenjoy, a large bottled drink, two fries, one gravy bucket, two rice, and one Asian slaw.
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The Jolly Spaghetti – another one of Jollibee’s most popular dishes – is available on its own for £4.39.
Other menu options include a Jolly hotdog for £2.39, a Yumburger with cheese for £2.89, an Asian chicken rice bowl for £4.99, and a chicken burger meal with side and drink for £5.99.
I decided to try the two most popular items on the menu – Chickenjoy and Jolly Spaghetti.
I ordered the two piece Chickenjoy meal, with fries (Asian slaw or rice are the alternative sides) and a drink of pineapple juice (Coke, Fanta and Sprite are also available).
My food and drink was in my hands within five minutes of ordering, so that earned a tick for the fast food joint.
It was a frosty day when I visited, so I didn’t fancy sitting outside and eating, and instead took my lunch home.
The food smelled very good as I unpacked the bag. According to the containers, they are recyclable and the cutlery is compostable.
I decided to begin with the Chickenjoy – of which there were two good-sized pieces.
I took a bite and was wowed. This was seriously good fried chicken.
The lovely, crispy outer layer gave way to tender, moist chicken on the inside. There was also only a very small amount of grease on this fried chicken.
I tried the chicken with the gravy – which was tasty, although rather salty – but I preferred the flavour of the chicken on its own.
I enjoyed the fries, which were crispy and well seasoned, and not dissimilar to those from other fast food chains, and the refreshing pineapple juice had just the right amount of sweetness.
Onto the Jolly Spaghetti, and to be honest, I didn’t think it looked particularly appealing. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste.
The sweet, slightly spicy sauce was delicious and there was plenty of spaghetti to enjoy it with. I’m not a big fan of hotdog sausages, so could have lived without the sausage slices, but it did add a different texture to the dish.
I was impressed by my first visit Jollibee – from the prompt and friendly service to the tasty food.
I would definitely go back for some more of the delicious Chickenjoy, which at £5.49 for a two piece meal, offered reasonable value for money.
I personally wouldn’t rush back for the Jolly Spaghetti, but it was a decent dish and I’m glad I gave it a try.
Overall, I reckon Leicester’s newest restaurant is worth a visit, and I think its offering is different enough for it to be a welcome addition to the city’s food scene.
Our rating: 4/5
Food hygiene rating: Awaiting inspection