Toronto is home to Canada’s largest concentration of Filipinos and yet the popular Filipino fast-food chain, Jollibee, still does not have a presence in the city or country. But, that’s about to change. The Star recently reported that the Filipino fast-food giant (also known as the McDonald’s of the Philippines) announced last month that it would be opening its first Canada location in Toronto in 2015.
Canada is home to 660,000 Filipinos, with 250,000 Filipinos residing in the Greater Toronto Area alone.
“We should have entered Canada way before,” said Jose Minana, Group President for Jollibee Foods Corporation.
Jollibee specializes in Spam sandwiches, pineapple-topped burgers and fried chicken. Although the franchise struggled when it first opened in California in 1998, it has since gained a thriving customer base, with branches opening up across the United States. The popular Filipino eatery was even recently featured on Anthony Bourdain’s new CNN show, Parts Unknown. Bourdain visits a Jollibee in Los Angeles and laments that Filipino cooking is “underrepresented.”
Part of the problem might be the bewildering mix of influences and tastes included in Filipino cuisine which includes aspects of Chinese, Hispanic and Polynesian cooking. As one Jollibee patron says in the The Star‘s article, Filipino cuisine is, “hard to brand.”
What do you think? Do you have favorite Filipino foods, or are you also confounded by the array and style of dishes?