Anyway, let's get down to business shall we? Today we'll be talking about fine vegetarian Thai cuisine...oh, and this Trader Joe's Vegetable Pad Thai, too.
In L.A., there's an amazing restaurant at Orlando and Beverly called Vegan Glory. Everything they serve is, as the name would indicate, free of animal products of any kind. They serve mostly Thai-themed food...and honestly, this is not only the BEST vegan or vegetarian food I've ever had anywhere, but it's one of my favorite restaurants period. I'm certainly not a vegan, but anyone I've ever known that's open-minded enough to try it instantly becomes a fan, regardless of how much meat-lust lingers in their stomach. If you ever decide to stop in, I recommend the pineapple fried rice with soy chicken nuggets. Put a little hot sauce on it, and WOW...meatless Thai food that'll blow your mind for a totally reasonable price--not to mention good, friendly service from people whom I think are actually from Thailand. (Most of them speak good English, though.)
Now, if Trader Joe's can make a killer meatless corn dog, you would expect them to make a killer meatless pad thai. I mean, that is, given TJ's generally good track record with Asian style food products, as well as their wide array of tasty vegetarian and vegan foods, one would think that a Thai entree as basic as Pad Thai would be an easy one to knock out of the ballpark. Lots of Thai foods are vegetarian or vegan anyway. Meat seems more intrinsically necessary for the success of a corn dog than that of Pad Thai.
However, I've gotta say - and maybe it's just because I was spoiled by Vegan Glory - this Pad Thai misses the mark. The noodles are too chewy - almost rubbery. The sprouts are stringy, and the little chunks of tofu, which were actually my favorite part, were too far and few between. Even though their texture was nice and their flavor wasn't awful, I found myself pining for real chicken pieces. I would say I was craving better quality tofu thingies, but there was something about these little guys that made me NOT want anything vegetarian. Because they were so unlike real meat, they reminded me of why I like meat in the first place. A good veggie Thai dish shouldn't leave you wanting real meat. Again, they aren't bad in and of themselves, but they're not nearly as good as real chicken. And I've had plenty of vegetarian dishes that completely quell any meat cravings - including a good many Trader Joe's products.
The sauce on the dish is certainly palatable. No complaints there, except that there could be a little more of it.
Sonia kind of surprised me with a higher-than-expected rating. She gave it a 3.5. I'm going to have to be the bad guy on this one and give it a 2.
Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.