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Edwin Goei

Jollibee, Red Ribbon, & Valerio's To Open In Irvine With Seafood City

We broke the story here earlier this summer: Seafood City, the Filipino supermarket chain, is opening in Irvine. It will be its first store in Orange County at a space vacated by Shoe Pavillion (2180 Barranca Pkwy.) and flanked by a Wal-Mart.

Seafood City has eight other stores in Southern California, more throughout the state, most of them in cities where the Pinoys are.

Nevertheless, Irvine, which doesn't have a visible Filipino community, needs one of these, if simply because it will bring about more Filipino businesses and restaurants to a city that's already blessed with Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese ones.

But here's even more good news: when it opens, it will actually already come with three iconic Filipino businesses in it. Jollibee, Red Ribbon, and Valerio's have counters installed inside the market.

For the non-Pinoy, Jollibee is the biggest fast-food joint in the Philippines, eclipsing McDonald's. Burgers in sesame-seed buns will be slathered with too much special sauce. Fried chicken can be bought by the bucket. And for dessert, there will be old school deep-fried pocket pies that even McDonald's jettisoned decades ago. There will be actual Filipino food, too: the Fiesta Noodles (otherwise known as pancit palabok), will look like pad Thai to those unfamiliar, but tastes nothing like it.

Red Ribbon, which is owned by Jollibee, makes its own version of palabok, but also bakes ultra-light mango cakes and flaky chicken-filled empanadas. And Valerio's, which has outlets in Cerritos and Anaheim, is where I go to get fresh baked pan del sal (oversized dinner rolls) and sugar-glazed turon (fried egg rolls stuffed with bananas).

All three will exist in little islands. Jollibee and Red Ribbon has its own food court-ish area. Valerio's just has a counter.

Seafood City is keeping mum as far as the opening date for what's turning out to be a Manila Mini Mall in a city that previously had no Filipino businesses (that I know about). Their only statement is "Soon". But if I had to judge by the progress: it's close. Possibly by the end of the month.

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