Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Trader Ming's Mandarin Orange Chicken

Sonia and I loved this stuff! Delicious. Restaurant-quality. Sonia cooked these on our stove and served them with TJ's instant brown rice. It was great. The chicken was crispy, tender, and flavorful. The sauce was perfect. Sonia isn't a fan of things that are super-sweet, but even she really liked it. There's just the right balance of orangey sweetness and exotic tanginess.

I'm a big fan of pretty much any orange chicken. But Trader Joe's really nailed this one, and I would say this is on par with $10-a-plate Chinese restaurant orange chicken. Sonia bought some P.F. Chang's frozen orange chicken the week before we had this one. It was good, but we both agreed the TJ's brand was significantly better. And, Trader Ming's Mandarin Orange Chicken was cheaper, just $4.99! We both highly recommend this product. Four and a half Stars out of Five from Nathan...Five out of Five from Sonia. Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

15 comments:

  1. I would agree to the 9.5 out of 10. Here's how we serve this fantastic meal. First of all, we fry the chicken in a little canola oil, then pour the orange sauce over after adding a bit of red pepper flakes for spice. With it, we serve TJs rice medley in the bag (which is VERY good) and the haricots verts in the frozen section. Carmelize onions in olive oil and butter with a pinch of thyme and sugar. Add slivered almonds and pour over the green beans (haricots verts). This is a dinner fit for company or to make your family sing your praises.

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  2. We also love the Mandarin Orange Chicken, but we, like Sonia, prefer to tone down the sweetness. To accomplish that, we add about a half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce while its heating. Voila: spicy orange chicken on a dime! Yum!

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  3. I'm gonna' try it for sure, and YES, I'll have the Chili Peppers handy, to be sure...

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  4. I made this for my roommates when I moved in and I was highly praised for it.. they called me an "amazing chef", even though I'm FAR from it. This delicious TJ chicken is enough to convince anyone.

    PS: they later got me a Safeway-brand orange chicken meal to make, and it tasted like garbage.

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  5. Totally agree. We now try to keep a bag of this in the freezer at all times.

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  6. My kids beg for this stuff about 5x a week. We serve it with steamed brocolli and the TJ's brown rice. Best frozen meal EVER!

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  7. Has anyone noticed that the orange sauce has completely changed in the past year or so? It now has a much more distinct cinnamon-type flavor, where the old sauce was much more orange-y. I really really miss the old sauce - it's just not as good as it used to be. Also, this may sound gross, but my husband loves to eat this over mac'n'cheese and it tastes pretty good!

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  8. My family agrees with all of you! Thanks to this dish, my son (the picky eater) ate chicken for the first time! Gotta love TJ's! Thanks for your reviews.

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  9. I get this all the time. Costco also has a really similar chicken that comes in a 5lb box (there are multiple servings, and there a few bags of chicken and sauce, so you can open up as many as you need. The Chicken tastes the same, but the sauce is a tad bit spicier.

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  10. I tried this and thought it was horrible. Chicken was way too breaded and sauce too sweet. Also, I'm not sure about the quality of the chicken. Had a weird inner texture.

    This is worst than a chinese chicken dish from a mall food court.

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  11. Have any of you tried the chicken by itself without the sauce on it, literally the lowest quality, bottom of the barrel, shit tier chicken you will ever have. The sauce just masks it's terrible anus puckering taste.

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  12. Have to agree w/ the last two comments unfortunately. This is a much-hyped dish at TJ's. I've tried it on three occasions to give it a truly fair shake, but the chicken is borderline nasty. The texture is all wrong, and the taste is just weird. I base my comparison of this dish to the local Chinese take-out places, and it totally pales in comparison. At least I can get legitimate chunks of white meat chicken at my local take-out. But TJ's attempt... is just wrong.

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  13. I have to agree with the last few folks here. Being a pretty particular preferer of white-meat-only chicken, I bought a bag of this and got it home before realizing it is not white meat, and instead is really questionable quality under the breading. Could. Not. Eat. No matter how delicious the sauce is.

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  14. Eh, I have to agree with the last few folks. I was super excited to try this, but the quality of the chicken left me feeling grossed out. It definitely had a strange texture. The sauce was good, and it was easy to prepare, but I won't buy this again.

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  15. I increase the amount of sauce by adding orange juice, cornstarch and orange zest to the sauce mixture and nuking it for a minute or so to thicken it.

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