Filipino Spaghetti Road Test
Taste Test

The Ultimate Pepper.ph Fast Food Spaghetti Taste Test

July 13, 2015

Even with the increasing focus on local food these days, few dishes remain as polarizing as Pinoy spaghetti. Usually consisting of a franken-red, sweet meat sauce (with hotdogs, if you’re lucky) on soft, non-durum wheat noodles and made especially milky with grated processed cheese on top, the result is a unique concoction that would put even Chef Boyardee to shame. As the the poster child (no pun intended) for children’s party fare, some might say enjoying the dish is best left to those aged twelve and below. There’s a certain stigma attached to liking (and craving) it as a grown-up, especially in a sea of spaghetti snobs who dismiss it as a poor copy of the Italian classic. But it would be futile to compare it to “real” pasta—we think this stuff is in a league of its own, and anyone who’s had the pleasure of lapping up a paper-plateful (making the cheesy birthday songs in the background so much more bearable) knows this treat transcends all ages.

Filipino Spaghetti Road Test

At our age, the chances of being invited to those birthday parties are next to none. Thankfully, most fast food chains in the country offer their own renditions for those looking to get their fix any day of the week, party hats optional. Being the hardcore Pinoy Spaghetti connoisseurs we so obviously are, we went all out and tested not one, not two…. but ten, yes, ten different chain versions, all with the goal of finding the winning takeout box to please our nostalgia-yearning hearts.

1. Jollibee’s Jolly Spaghetti (PHP 50, solo)

Talia: “Oh, this is JOLLIBEE! It’s yummy, it’s sweet, it has the texture of Pinoy spaghetti.” Pamela: “This tastes like pasta water. But it has a good ratio of noodle to sauce.” Jasmine: “I mean, it has a good amount of meat, but not much cheese.”

  • Noodles: 3/5
  • Sauce: 5/5
  • Meat: 3/5
  • Cheese: 2/5
Filipino Spaghetti Road Test

Left: McDonald’s | Right: Jollibee

2. McDonald’s Spaghetti (PHP 99 ala carte with 1 pc. Chicken Mcdo)

Talia: “Looks saucy. It’s cheesy, but the noodles are really mushy… almost like mashed potatoes.” Pamela: “Yeah, it’s mushy– this actually needs more noodles. The cheese reminds me of mozzarella though.” Jasmine: “Mmm, zesty.”

  • Noodles: 2/5
  • Sauce: 4/5
  • Meat: 3/5
  • Cheese: 3/5

3. Tapa King’s Spaghetti (PHP 60)

Talia: “Oh my god this is awful. It has that sour, flour-y, basa flavor…. it needs prosciutto.” Pamela: “There’s no sauce…. no taste… no cheese…. it’s nondescript. It’s forgettable.” Jasmine: “There’s barely any sauce, though it’s on the sour side. I like that there are distinct chunks of cheese on this one.”

  • Noodles: 3/5
  • Sauce: 1/5
  • Meat: 2/5
  • Cheese: 2/5
Filipino Spaghetti Road Test

Left: Tapa King | Right: Red Ribbon

4. Goldilocks’ Spaghetti (PHP 49)

Talia: “This…. this needs to be different. This is deception. Like you think it’s Pinoy spaghetti, but it’s not.” Pamela: “This could actually use more sweetness. There’s real meat, but it’s tipid. The ratio of cheese to sauce is spot-on, though.” Jasmine: “It’s weird because it smells like black pepper, but doesn’t actually taste like it. This is not Pinoy spaghetti.”

  • Noodles: 3/5
  • Sauce: 1/5
  • Meat: 2/5
  • Cheese: 3/5

5. Wendy’s Spaghetti (PHP 49)

Talia: “This is not Pinoy spaghetti! It’s more like pasta with bopis.” Pamela: “Wow, it’s brown. It looks classy. But the ground beef is gross – it’s like jelly. Seriously, it’s beef-flavored jelly.” Jasmine: “There’s a strong onion taste that I like about it, but it’s weird.”

  • Noodles: 3/5
  • Sauce: 2/5
  • Meat: 1/5
  • Cheese: 4/5
Filipino Spaghetti Road Test

Left: Wendy’s | Right: Goldilocks

6. Red Ribbon’s Classic Spaghetti (PHP 65)

Talia: “This reminds me of mom’s–there’s a lot of meat, and it’s the closest to actual spaghetti, but it’s not Pinoy spaghetti.” Pamela: “There’s no hotdog! But this has just the right amount of sweetness, and a good ratio of meat-to-sauce.” Jasmine: “I smell herbs, but I didn’t get any cheese. I would call this borderline Pinoy spaghetti.”

  • Noodles: 4/5
  • Sauce: 4/5
  • Meat: 4/5
  • Cheese: 4/5

7. Adobo Connection’s Spaghetti (PHP 49)

Talia: “Ugh… the sauce is disgusting and viscous, like glue. This needs to get outta here.” Pamela: “This is weird! The sauce is sour, the hotdog’s also sour, and the meat is all fat – like the weird fatty bits of corned beef that no one wants to eat. And the cheese has absolutely no taste.” Jasmine: “There’s this weird aftertaste I don’t like. This is so bad–I don’t understand.”

  • Noodles: 1/5
  • Sauce: 0/5
  • Meat: 0/5
  • Cheese: 0/5
Filipino Spaghetti Road Test

Left: Adobo Connection | Right: Greenwich

8. Greenwich’s Spaghetti Supreme (PHP 50, ala carte)

Talia: “Smells peppery…. I hate it. I’d rather eat the bopis one.” Pamela: “There are chunks of meat on this one. And mushrooms! The ground meat is good, but it’s too peppery. I half-hate, half-like it. No wait, I don’t like it.” Jasmine: “I agree, this has lots of meat. I bet kids would like this.”

  • Noodles: 2/5
  • Sauce: 2/5
  • Meat: 3/5
  • Cheese: 2/5

9. KFC’s Spaghetti (PHP 50)

Talia: “It’s earthy and smokey…. in an off-putting way. And the sauce is practically half-cheese sauce!” Pamela: “So much cheese…. the sauce is lost in cheese. It’d be perfect crossed with Jollibee’s, though.” Jasmine: “There is a lot of cheese, and I like that it’s melted. It still has the sweetness of Pinoy spaghetti.

  • Noodles: 3/5
  • Sauce: 4/5
  • Meat: 4/5
  • Cheese: 5/5
Filipino Spaghetti Road Test

Left: KFC | Right: Tropical Hut

10. Tropical Hut’s Spaghetti (PHP 47, solo)

Talia: “….this tastes like red glue. And it stains the fork yellow–is that margarine?” Pamela: “It looks like Cheetos! I do NOT wanna eat this.” Jasmine: “The noodles are hard. There’s no meat, no cheese.”

  • Noodles: 3/5
  • Sauce: 1/5
  • Meat: 1/5
  • Cheese: 1/5

The Verdict

Of our contenders, a few were especially noteworthy. Jollibee’s, for instance, was the most familiar to us, and was immediately identifiable by its appearance (and generous amount of hotdogs!). Wendy’s sauce, for whatever reason, was practically brown, akin to a more proper bolognese sauce—hence the label, “bopis with pasta”. There were two that made us want to question whether they really deserved to be considered “Pinoy Spaghetti”: KFC’s, for one, had so much cheese that it overpowered the sweet sauce, and Red Ribbon’s was clearly on the more Mediterranean end of the spectrum, with a distinct herbiness in the background and relatively al dente noodles. (Which isn’t to say they weren’t good in themselves, though.) Finally, two were just plain inedible: Tropical Hut’s, which was practically neon red, and Adobo connection’s, which had way too many meat-pretending mystery bits in the sauce. Despite feeling absolutely sick to our stomachs toward the end—oh, the things we do for our beloved readers—it was nice to have felt like five-year-olds again, being handed plate after plate of spaghetti and actually trying to finish each one. (After one too many meat sauce-tinged burps, though, we were reminded of why we’re so glad to have grown up.) Did we learn anything? Aside from re-sharpening our diminishing spaghetti-discerning skills (useful, in our book), one thing was clear: the renditions vary, as do our personal taste. Perhaps the essence of Pinoy spaghetti lies not in the sweetness of the sauce, nor the generosity of the cheese, but in the memories associated with it, the context with which it is presented, and the intention behind its preparation: to forego pretension, and to nourish the child within. In the meantime…excuse us, it may take some time before we order spaghetti at a fast food joint again.

Where do you get your favorite Pinoy fast food spaghetti? What do you think of the ones featured above? Tell us your thoughts with a comment below!

Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes

Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.

75 comments in this post SHOW

75 responses to “The Ultimate Pepper.ph Fast Food Spaghetti Taste Test”

  1. Geh says:

    Hi. I feel like this piece needs a conclusion or something. Maybe a tally of the scores? An observation? An award? Just something. Haha.

  2. jolly spaghetti expert lol says:

    i think the mcdo and jollibee spaghettis are interchanged? isn’t the one on the right jollibee and left mcdo? 🙂

  3. skeptic says:

    I think the rating system is out of whack. Jasmine says she didn’t get any cheese on her red ribbon review, yet the cheese rating still gets 4 out of 5. Hmmm.

    • Pamela Cortez says:

      Hi!

      We’d previously published this without a conclusion, but took it down in order to add to round out the article. As policy, we don’t delete comments to be transparent with readers. As for the rating system, we used an average to calculate them. Is Makati supermart spaghetti really good?? Where there can we get it?!

  4. nikpas says:

    Should be fun seeing everyone reacting to the not-so-good ones. Wahahaha. =))

    Jolly Spag 5ever!!!!!!! (but yeah, the labels are interchanged in the picture. heh.)

  5. cutedoc says:

    its a matter of who eats it…

    when a kid asks for spaghetti (which by the way is top 1 favourite food for kids tied with crispy chicken) 8.5/10 would prefer jolliibee, theirs has that distinct pinoy flavour, 2nd would be McDonalds and the rest are 3rds and below. Why Jollibee, its that sweetness and hotdogs (which taste like hard sausage) and the ketchupy sauce that pinoys love. Its what formulation of their sauce that spells the big difference,

  6. Zombie C. says:

    I heard the Mister Donut spag is good. But for me Jollibee still is king.

  7. DeuceAlmighty says:

    Makes me want to take home a Jolly Spaghetti family pan tonight. All for myself. Hah!

  8. Ron Neria says:

    Have you tried the Makati Supermarket spaghetti?

  9. Alex Manalang says:

    I would love to slap the hell out of you two! You shouldve changed the headline to “The battle of the most disgusting spaghetti”

  10. Mun says:

    You do know that you can request to have your Jollibee “Pinoy style” spaghetti with extra sauce and extra cheese for free, right? You just need to ask the counter to do so. 🙂

  11. May says:

    Try Amber’s spaghetti!

  12. It needs… prosciutto…. ???????????????

  13. Sam says:

    Who cares about the spaghetti??

    I just wanna meet Talia. GIRLLL, PROSCUITTO?!?!?! Hahahahahha!

  14. Justin Laurente says:

    I bet the very reason why no video version exists is because that Talia girl will get flamed for days with those obnoxious comments. Better hide her face then.

    • Pamela Cortez says:

      Hehehe it’s hard to read sarcasm when it’s on a webpage! Should have been video instead!

      • Justin Laurente says:

        Knowing your website is quite a reliable source of information regarding food and the article’s format is a little too Buzzfeed-esque, the trolling is poorly executed. Could’ve shown more obvious hints IMO. But that’s just me. Guess I’m not educated enough to understand quickly your writer’s level of sarcasm. (And so did a lot of people here)

        • Yuki says:

          Thanks for the feedback. I do think much of the backlash has to do more with the way the opinions were presented/written, for which I’m accountable, than their actual content. Rest assured, the comments were given in a fun light when the taste test was actually done, and our love for Pinoy spaghetti is genuine.

          • Justin Laurente says:

            There wasn’t anything really wrong with what you’ve written (unless there’s actually a hidden desire of trolling your readers, then you should’ve at least put a disclaimer at the end) as long as the reactions were genuine. If there’s anyone to blame for the backlash, it’s the testers themselves for giving over-the-top comments. But hey, for all I know, they could be food critics who don’t know how cheap the spaghettis were.

            The only reason I posted a comment in the first place was that Talia girl receiving quite the attention but for the wrong reasons. No hate Pepper. Was actually an interesting topic if I may add.

          • Sonia says:

            You guys have been judging spaghetti but did not consider that it was just for 50 bucks. Looking for more meat, cheese, etc etc. That’s really unfair when you look at it — this is cheap fare, so review it accordingly. For 50 bucks you get this — and is that value for money in terms of taste and so on. That’s why you come off as condescending.

      • Jeremy says:

        And now you’re claiming that the reviewers are being sarcastic on this article due to the backlash you’ve gained. Good job, Pepper.

        Oh by the way, what happened to the buffet review which you took down from your site? Were you being sarcastic in that article too?

  15. Pat says:

    That prosciutto comment talaga hahaha it’s fastfood, gurl. Not the artisanal or the high end kind that you’re used to

  16. Billie says:

    Description and pics for Goldilocks and Red Ribbon interchanged.

  17. Michelle says:

    Huh??? I’m sorry, but Goldilocks spaghetti hands down.

  18. Beatriz says:

    This really depends on the person and the prices are definitely reasonable.

  19. Tammy says:

    This review kinda sucks. can we get something medyo objective?

  20. Tammy says:

    What is PINOY SPAGHETTI anyway? Like what are its qualities?

  21. Alex says:

    I really love the Goldilocks spaghetti though tbh……..

  22. Egay Javier says:

    lol parang wala naman positive reviews? lahat puro negative? Greenwich pa rin ang the best for me! Ayaw nyo pala ng “peppery”, edi magpalit na kayo ng name! hahaha charaught

  23. WAG AKO says:

    Very inconsistent review. Si Talia obviously MEMA lang, MEMA-sabi lang si ate. Lol very subjective.

  24. Becky says:

    Talaga? Bakit parang sarap na sarap ako sa goldilocks spaghetti?

  25. Pat says:

    Greenwich masarap swear!

  26. Greenwich has always been my fave!!! PLUS LOTS OF HOT SAUCE! UGH yumm!!!

  27. Rod says:

    What the hell, Pepper?! You Buzzfeed-wannabee!

  28. troysitosta says:

    Either Joibee paid for this article or this is the equivalent of a slow news day for food bloggers.

  29. dLowlyScribe says:

    so this is an article? what a piece of poorly-researched crap. this is too shallow (not even a bit entertaining), made even worse by the 3 #burgis taste test respondents.

    • Pamela Cortez says:

      We’re sorry to have disappointed you! We actually did extensive research on Pinoy spaghetti, and the qualities that make it so- sweetness of sauce, etc. We’ll take your comments and apply them to our next taste tests! Thanks 🙂

      • Jeremy says:

        If your research was really extensive then why does one of the reviewers think that a certain spaghetti needs prosciutto? Where have you come across your research that Pinoy spaghetti have such ingredient?

        • blah says:

          errrrr.. was i the only one who LOL-ed at the prosciutto? chill man I think the writer meant it as a joke.

      • JPL1104 says:

        RESEARCH doesnt make you an expert. Seriously, you should do better than this. Hire writers with legit background and who actually knows food. Find someone who has a discerning palate and can write as well.

        and yeah, spaghetti with prosciutto?? WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP. What happened to you guys. Ang aarte ng writers nyo wala naman leg to stand on.

        • Pamela Cortez says:

          By no means did we claim to be experts on the subject, and taste tests are meant to be subject to our personal taste; research meant we were judging them based on their merits as Pinoy spaghetti- how sweet the sauce was, the noodles being slightly soft, meatiness, etc. In regards to spaghetti with prosciutto, it was meant to be sarcastic, saying that there was nothing that could really improve it, and we apologize that it unfortunately didn’t come across that way. Thank you so much for your suggestions, we’ll keep them in mind!

        • Confused says:

          Maybe, your comment doesn’t make sense. You want people with legit backgrounds and discerning palates, then are all up in arms about their comments, saying they’re maarte. So which one do you want???

          • Greg says:

            There’s a big difference between ‘discerning’ and ‘maarte’. You are not confused, you are being ignorant.

        • Cmon Man says:

          actually, Django, doing your research does mean you’re more credible than a butthurt internet anon ranting about a spaghetti article. dude.

  30. George Carlos Pastor says:

    You can ask for extra sauce and extra cheese for free on your jolly spag. Will trump RR’s spag easily

  31. Jeremy says:

    Congratulations on this article! I’m sure you’ve increased your website’s traffic from this.

  32. JPL1104 says:

    ang arte ng mga writers. “this tastes like red glue”, “It looks like cheetos i dont want to eat this”, “mmore like pasta with bopis”. They dont sound like LEGIT food writers. More like BRATS. CMON PEPPER.PH you can do better than this.

  33. animetric says:

    I’m curious, has anyone up there actually eaten glue?

    • Geh says:

      I’m not one of the reviewers but I have tasted glue! Well it was paste… when I was a kid of course. :))

  34. * roche * says:

    Congratulations on the viral article! Dami ninyong traffic from insulting a lot of favorites!

  35. Geh says:

    Some people need to chill the eff out. Haha.

  36. Thea Gonzales says:

    I don’t understand this article. This is poorly written and is based on poor judgment. Greenwich’s spag is one of my local faves for example, and you gave it a 2/5 rating? What for you is the true “Pinoy spaghetti”? Hahaha. I’m sorry

  37. Sketti says:

    Prisciutto?! On a fast food spaghetti??? Oh my gosh Talia, I have never rolled my eye so hard in my life.

  38. Cheens says:

    Ang OA ng mga tao! Hehehe! My favorite is actually Mcdo’s spaghetti because like what Jasmine said, it’s zesty!

  39. Oscar Deleon says:

    I hope the writers do realize that in their efforts to be funny, they have insulted the legacy favorites of so many Pinoys both in manila and in the provinces. In so doing, pepper has damaged their own position as a credible food review website. Remember, there are more of us masa than there are of you sosyal girls. Humor was very aggressive and writing such only shows the lack of creativity and wit on the part of your writers. Not to mention the lack of adjectives. Glue? Hahahaha, so juvenile and amateurish.

  40. blah says:

    it’s so funny how ang daming negative reactions dito. why so many butthurt people. god, it’s just spaghetti. have a little fun and laugh a little!

  41. CL says:

    It’s just Spaghetti, peeps! What’s with all the rage? Ok, so prosciutto on top of Pinoy Spag is obviously something we should let Andrew Zimmern try out, can’t y’all just chill out? If it makes you feel any better, bumili na lang kayo ng spag of choice niyo then eat in peace. End of story.

    Pambihira.

  42. N says:

    I clicked on this article expecting it would be a fun read. Boy was I disappointed! The review’s about Pinoy spaghetti, and yet the reviewers are throwing around words like “prosciutto” and “pasta water”. Come on! Iget it, you’re being sarcastic. But geez! Can’t you at least try to get that tone across in the article? Haters na haters ang dating ninyo. In my mind I see these three sosyal girls making faces while eating yucky food for the masses. Grabe. 🙁

  43. Ashley Penabella says:

    Hope the judges included “Magoo’s Pizza’s” spaghetti.

  44. J2 says:

    I agree with Tropical hut spag to be the worst of the bunch. Personally, I’d rate Red Ribbon #2 and Jollibee #1 because it’s served the way it should be. Red Ribbon spag made me feel really confused. Labelling it pinoy-style is a cheat-code. Like if they sold the spag as a legit bolognese, it would fail spectacularly but if they marketed it as a pinoy-style spag, it taste better than the average red-sauced abomination.

    If you want something truly TRULY horrible, have one of those 10 to 15 peso spags they sell in carinderias. No pasta dish I’ve eaten tasted worse than that monstrosity I ate that fateful day 8 years ago. I have lower standards when it comes to food so when I say it’s bad, it’s REALLY REALLY BAD. I eat in carinderias and turo-turo regularly so there are a LOT of food I would find tolerable.

  45. RICE LAPUZ says:

    Wendy’s spaghetti made me cry when mom ordered one for me at seven years old

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