Every once in a while, Filipino fastfood restaurants try to innovate on a usually predictable menu, but a fastfood kitchen isn’t as well-stocked or as well-equipped as Kitchen Stadium. Save for the fish dishes served during Lent, and the thousand and one ways to cook a burger patty, the kitchen crew make do with what they have. Like Spongebob Squarepants, during that episode when he was brainwashed by Squidward into thinking that all he knows is fine dining and breathing.
Or, to be more… me, about it, follow the mathematical permutations of fastfood laboratory technicians who have made recipes out of sauce, hotdogs, chicken, burger meat, and the freeze-dried vegetables available in the kitchen.
Enter: Jollibee Chicken Menudo: or Permutation Number #67124. In a word, disgusting.
The dish could have been the Ricky Martin of the Jollibee menu: the la bomba, the sopa de la vida that would make you go Heppa! dancing with all the denizens of Jollitown. Jollibee has pulled off many fastfood takes on Filipino food that are not only passable, but also delectable. Jollibee Chicken Barbecue, for one. Or Palabok Fiesta, which can hold its own against many other variants of the dish out there. Or the greatest contribution of the Filipino people to fastfood dining: Chickenjoy.
Yet rather than be that rich, flavorful stew of liver, tomato, carrots, potatoes, and seasonings, Jollibee Chicken Menudo is a hodgepodge of fastfood leftovers. There are freeze-dried carrots and potatoes, reclaimed chicken pieces (mostly fat and skin), and cut-up hotdogs, all smothered in an oily something that’s supposed to be tomato sauce. Heated up, thank you mamser, and off you go. For P65 a’la carte, I guess you get what you pay for.
The shanghai was okay.
No, not really: having eaten my own fair share of menudo, Jollibee Chicken Menudo simply isn’t it. It’s edible, all right, but it isn’t passable: it isn’t menudo at all. It’s more of the giniling a Jollijeep would serve on a Friday, sans the egg and spice, and priced a wee bit higher. It’s the kind of dish that you would eat, sip your Coke, munch on a fry, and ponder about life. That you’ve been given a second lease at it; all because of some mix-up and mash-up from a menu of meals, a morsel masquerading as menudo.
Mmmm it is not: it tastes exactly like hotdogs, reclaimed chicken pieces, and freeze-dried vegetables in a sauce from an unlabeled tin. There’s too much playing going on in flavor: perhaps because of MSG and other additives, or maybe because the dish wasn’t meant to be cooked that way. Much effort and tender loving care is spent tenderizing and extracting the flavorful essence of livers and tomatoes when cooking menudo, which you can’t taste in the dish. It’s more akin to cafeteria Frankenstein monsters; assemblages. Culinary Dadaism: things mixed together, called “art,” served to the gullible customer. I’ll stick to Chickenjoy, thank you.
No, I’m not writing this in the tradition of “food criticism” or revenge posts – the meal did come with a receipt and the cashier told me to “come again,” not “blog again” – yet if the dish tastes good for you, then good. As this falls into the general category of “Don’t Eat This” think of it as nutrition, not as eating.
Bon fucken’ appetit.