The late Anthony Bourdain called the Jollibee Amazing Aloha Yumburger a “very tasty burger” with a “nice char.”
But even for Jollibee fans like me, it’s… strange. It’s a burger with a slice of pineapple and bacon inside. Pizzas with pineapples are an abomination, with a long-standing history of being dramatically divisive.
So this burger version coming along now, trying to spread something that just shouldn’t be? That’s pushing it, dude.
Before we get into it, some background: The Aloha used to be a staple here in the Philippines, but over the years, it evolved into becoming a limited-time only offering. The last time we had it in the Philippines was 2017. But in places like California, for example, you can order it all year round.
So when I found out that the Aloha was back in rotation in the Philippines again (starting early September), I trooped to the nearest Jollibee (AKA, across the street from my house) to try the damned thing.
I’ve never tried it before. Chickenjoy is and always will be my one and only jam at the ‘Bee.
There’s not much to be said about the, um, ambiance of my neighborhood Jollibee. It’s a two-story affair with a small play area for kids. I don’t like to be surrounded by screaming kids unrelated to me, so I decided to take my food to go.
The first disappointment: There was no soda. No Coke, no root beer, no Sprite.
I mean, how can you not have soda? On a Sunday? This will be a mystery that puzzles me forever.
Anyway. I ordered one Aloha meal, which sees a double burger Aloha paired with fries and a pineapple juice (no soda, remember?). All of that is PHP189 (US$3.51).
And because it’s Sunday, and I’m at Jollibee to try new things (it’s been a long time since I deviated from Chickenjoy), I also got their Chocolate Sundae PHP30 (US$0.55), and a large order of cheesy french fries at PHP67 (US$1.24).
Let’s start with those fries — the one that comes with the Aloha. This is the entire serving I got… is it meant for a baby? A zygote, perhaps? And, check this out: I ate a piece at the store, and it was already soggy. Sadness.
Now this one is Jollibee’s version of Potato Corner’s cheese-flavored fries.
There are a ton of Potato Corner stalls here in the Philippines. It’s a big deal in our neck of the woods. Go to any stall and I assure you, nine times out of ten, it’s so crowded you’d think people are ogling celebrities.
Anyway, Jollibee’s version of flavored cheese fries is slightly better than their regular fries. The cheese powder they sprinkled on the fries was slightly salty, but it wasn’t overpowering. It’s not as good as Potato Corner’s version, but it’s getting there. Would recommend for Jollibee customers who want to give something new a try.
OK, now for the most important part: the Aloha Burger. When you see it on posters, it looks really nice. See?
But the real one (at least the one that I got) — isn’t. Now, I’m not exactly known for my food styling abilities, but…
That thing you see oozing out of it? That’s mustard, not cheese. Any sane being, just by looking at this photo, would give this a pass.
But! It was surprisingly good. The pineapple sweetness and the bacon’s saltiness combined beautifully. Yes, I’m as shocked as you are, dear reader. When they’re mixed with the patty, every bite is pure bliss. The mustard, which was slightly sour, gave it an added kick.
It was unexpectedly satisfying. It’s not weird at all. I promised myself I’d take my time eating it, but I finished it off in five minutes.
To cap off my meal, I tried their chocolate sundae.
This one was a disappointment. It was too sweet for me, and the chocolate syrup had an overly artificial taste to it. McDonald’s choco fudge sundae, which is almost the same price, is definitely far better.
The vanilla ice cream tasted sub-par as well. The consistency could be improved. Or maybe I should have eaten it five minutes after it was served to me. What I did was I put it in the fridge while I was wolfing down the other food I bought. In any case, this one didn’t do it for me.
In conclusion… True to its name, the Aloha, is indeed, rather amazing. Bourdain was not just being nice after all. It’s not as good as gourmet burger of course, but for its (very low) price, it’s certainly worth the different experience. Just be sure to get it before it leaves the country again, because when we asked our neighborhood Jollibee staff, none of them knew how long it would be around this time.