I tried the new Jollibee in Leeds that everyone is raving about – and was left disappointed – Jasmine Norden

If you’re looking to find out what Spaghetti Bolognese would taste like if it was sweet, look no further.

Jollibee is a Filipino fast food chain that operates internationally, but has only ventured into the UK in the last few years.

Dubbed ‘the McDonalds of the Philippines’, it’s gained something of a cult following for its fast food with a twist, to the point that when it opened its first UK branch in London, people queued for 18 hours to get in.

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Jollibee has now made it’s way to Leeds, opening a branch at the top of Briggate in May, offering both indoor dining and takeaway.

Again, people were waiting to get in and order from 5:30am.

Intrigued by its popularity, I headed down to Briggate this week to see what the fuss was all about.

Like most fast food outlets, there are a lot of options at Jollibee, from loaded fries to burgers.

I decided to try two of the specialities Jollibee seems to be most famous for – Chickenjoy and the Jolly Spaghetti.

It was reasonably busy inside, which is decked out with colourful walls and art to match its bright name, but my order was ready within five minutes.

I took it home with me and unpacked it, and promptly spilled the spaghetti all over the bag. Thankfully, I managed to salvage the majority of it (and would consequently warn that the boxes do not take kindly to being turned upside down).

Jollibee Leeds can be found at the top of Briggate, opposite Starbucks

First up: the Chickenjoy, costing £2.05 for one piece, £4.62 for a two-piece meal. Now, apparently what sets Chickenjoy apart from other fried chicken is its ‘secret marinade’.

My interest was piqued by the promise of a secret marinade, thinking perhaps the taste of this hidden recipe would reveal to me why anyone would queue 18 hours for fried chicken.

I took it out of the box, and it looked a lot like your average fried chicken. I was undeterred, and so went straight for a bite.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, it tasted a lot like your average fried chicken too.

It avoided some of the usual greasiness of many fast food fried chickens, but mostly and heartbreakingly, the secret marinade was entirely lost on me.

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It was fairly indistinguishable from any fried chicken I’ve had before.

There’s a variety of dipping sauces on offer at Jollibee – I chose the gravy to go with my Chickenjoy. This combination was more inspired, though perhaps says more about the novelty of trying fried chicken with gravy for me personally than it does about the flavours.

I was still disappointed about the undetectable secret marinade, but had still enjoyed some pretty good fried chicken, so I decided to move on to the Jolly Spaghetti, which cost me £4.52.

This one looked a lot like a Spag Bol, if someone had decided to slice up a few tinned hot dogs and shoved them into it.

The Jolly Spaghetti is well, spaghetti, mixed with chopped up hotdogs, melted cheese and a red sauce which is reportedly made from banana ketchup.

This one was not for me.

The mix of memories associated with those rubbery hot dogs from childhood barbecues and the sweet, cloying sauce was not a combination I enjoyed.

Jollibee has launched their first Leeds restuarant with the aim of taking on KFC
Jollibee launched its first Leeds restaurant earlier this year with the aim of taking on KFC

Though in fairness, if you enjoy mixing your sweet and savoury – this will probably be right up your street.

Overall, I thought Jollibee stood up as a decent fast food joint with a few quirky dishes you won’t see at McDonalds or KFC.

But for me, I won’t be queuing up at some ungodly hour to get in as they expand further into the UK. Not for what essentially boils down to spaghetti with dessert ketchup.

I’m still disappointed about the secret marinade.

Have you tried Jollibee? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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