Jollibee's Honey Beef Rice Is Back; Is It as Incredi-Bowl as It Once Was?

You may remember this menu item from your childhood.

jollibee
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes ILLUSTRATION Warren Espejo

(SPOT.ph) Ah, the late '90s to early 2000s—a much simpler time, when we jazzed up our hair with butterfly clips while dancing along to the tunes of the Backstreet Boys. It was also around this time that Jollibee came out with the Honey Beef Rice—and though it didn't quite reach cult status as much as, say, their signature Chickenjoy, it had its fair share of fans who shed tears as it was eventually taken off the menu. Well, fellow Millennials—and/or Gen-Z folks with a penchant for Y2K nostalgia—the rumors are true: Jollibee has brought back the Honey Beef Rice.

Interestingly, Jollibee has yet to post about its return on their official pages—though we were able to confirm its availability through a call to their #87000 hotline. The comeback seems to have first caught people's attention through a Facebook post by the page Jollibee Bayani Road. Word spread, and now you can find food lovers around the Metro gushing about the dish on social media.

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The catch? For now, it's only available at selected stores—namely Jollibee's Legarda BustillosBGC TriangleBayani RoadMacapagal Biopolis, and Madrigal branches.

Here's our take on Jollibee's Honey Beef Rice in 2021.

What's This Honey Beef Rice and Why do People Love It?

The name of the dish pretty much gives you a hint. Based on this 1999 commercial, it was originally described as having "sosyal na beef" and "hanep na honey sauce" on "hataw na rice"—gotta love those descriptors. And no, we're not making this up:

We surveyed a couple of friends and acquaintances about their Honey Beef Rice memories and they describe it in a positive light: It's said to be "good," "parang Japanese", and "bagay yung sweetness niya sa rice, 'di nakakaumay". Around the internet, you'll also find old (pre-2021) forums and Reddit threads where people reminisce and rave about the dish.

While the author admits not to having been able to try the Honey Beef Rice back in the day, there's really no reason to doubt these people's words. Just the thought of beef in a sweetish sauce on rice is totally mouthwatering stuff.

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Ordering the Honey Beef Rice in 2021

Now if you're near the areas that carry the Honey Beef Rice (namely the BGC and Manila areas) you should be able to order it through the usual methods—via delivery apps like Grab, Foodpanda, or the Jollibee app; through their website; or by giving their #87000 hotline a call.

But as the author lives all the way in Quezon City, placing an order wasn't exactly easy. The branches that have it are out of reach on delivery apps; the menu item is also not listed on Jollibee's delivery website on our end. When we tried calling our hotline, it was explained to us different branches only deliver within a certain range so as to follow their expected delivery times—meaning if you're out of coverage from a certain branch, you can't simply make a special request to order from that branch.

Our only real hope was to book a courier with a purchase service and have the driver buy it for us and deliver to our doorstep. Depending on your courier (we used Lalamove), this may entail extra fees—in our case, there was an extra P50 for the purchase service and P70 for having the driver queue in line.

Now, For the Taste Test

Travel time aside, the Honey Beef Rice (P149/à la carte, P169/with a drink) thankfully arrived hot. And trust us when we say the aroma once we opened the container was amazing.

From its appearance and description, it does sound a lot like Japanese gyudon—the classic bowl of simmered beef on a bed of hot rice. And flavor-wise it more or less resembles it, too, with thin and beef slices and soft onions in a beefy sauce that's savory and a tad sweet.

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jollibee
It's got a mix of beef and onions simmered in a sweet-savory sauce, on a bed of rice.
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes ILLUSTRATION Warren Espejo

For the most part, the flavor you get is that of deep, umami beef, given a sharpness that's likely from the use of toyo (a.k.a. Pinoy-style soy sauce). This is not to say it's too salty; it's balanced out perfectly by the whisper of sweetness that rounds out every bite. If we were to nitpick, we don't think that the sweetness comes from real honey (which would contribute a more complex and floral note). This is likely just plain ol' sugar—but that hardly matters, really.

jollibee
Talk about comfort in a bowl. 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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Now we did notice that there's quite a lot of rice in the bowl in comparison to the amount of meat. But there's also a lot of sauce, and it's totally swoon-worthy how the rice captures and absorbs the sauce—which in turn imbues the rice with its umami and makes for moist and flavorful spoonfuls.

So Is It Worth It?

If you live in the area, it's a definite yes as you get a sweet-savory-umami bowl of comfort here. And if you're specifically looking to relive your Y2K memories, definitely go for it—we can't quite compare it to the original from back in the day, but we will say that this version is pretty dang good. Now if you're from far away, it might be better to just go for an equally good bowl of gyudon somewhere nearer. But we've got a gut feeling Jollibee will be rolling out the Honey Beef Rice to other branches soon—and when they do, you can bet we'll be reordering this great-tasting rice bowl!

Send a message to Jollibee's Facebook page for a list of branches that have the Honey Beef Rice. For delivery orders if you're near those branches, you can download Jollibee's delivery app on iOS or Android, visit Jollibee's website, call #87000, or order through GrabFood or Foodpanda. For more information, check out Jollibee's Facebook page.

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