Seafood City, the pan-Asian grocery store, is slowly becoming fully operational on the city’s North Side. Red Ribbon, the bake shop from fast-food chain Jollibee, opens on Saturday morning inside the Filipino food mecca. Now Chicagoans and Pinoys alike can try the various hard-to-find cakes, Filipino empanadas and ensamaidas.
It’s the first Red Ribbon in Chicago and 34th for the chain. There's no seating inside this location, but plenty to use at Seafood City’s massive food court. There’s no baking that actually occurs at Red Ribbon. Treats like the Mango Supreme and Ube Overload come from off site. But with a cup of coffee, it's a great place to reminisce and try baked goods popular in the Philippines.
Like the Jollibee spaghetti, Filipino food skews sweet. Filipino mangoes used in their cakes are sweeter than Mexican mangoes, for example. The packaged ensamaida cakes are comparable to the Hostess cakes many Americans grew up with in the 1980s. There’s also cakes the feature ube, the purple sweet potato-like root veggie that’s featured in many dishes like Jollibee’s ice cream. There’s also familiar flavors for Americans, like chocolate mousse.
Red Ribbon neighbors the Jollibee space, as reps say Chicago’s first Jollibee location should open before the New Year. The Skokie location has surpassed the company’s expectations. The opening made the restaurant one of the highest earners in the world, and the top in the U.S.
Expect lines Saturday morning at Red Ribbon, but they’ll be able to queue up inside Seafood City and avoid the cold. That’s the same strategy they’ll employ for Jollibee’s opening with customers entering through Seafood City’s entrance and exiting though the bakery’s individual entrances. That means they’ll be shielded from the elements, and that’s fortunate for Chicagoans. Jollibee is opening next week in Winnipeg and reps are prepping to get heated tents for customers braving the freezing colds. They also said they aren’t expecting the same level of craziness as Skokie when the Chicago location opens.
Check back in the coming days for more on Jollibee. Meanwhile, check out Red Ribbon on Saturday.
Red Ribbon Bake Shop, 5033 N. Elston Ave. (inside Seafood City), (773) 685-5888, open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.