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.
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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.