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 22, 2011

Trader Joe's Shrimp with Spicy Green Curry

There's a greater sense of authenicity when one uses chopsticks while eating any kind of Asian cuisine. It's as if the experience gains an extra dimension. Most dining affairs rely heavily upon our senses of taste and smell, and of course, the presentation of the food appeals to our sense of sight. And one might argue that the chewing of the food, and feeling its texture in our mouths is dependent upon our sense of touch. That's true. But with chopsticks, we feel the food before we even start eating it. We get more familiar with it somehow than when we use a fork or spoon. That's why I love that Trader Joe's put chopsticks in the picture on the box of this green curry shrimp.

I did use a pair of wooden chopsticks I saved from a local Chinese restaurant. However, I guess I defeated the purpose of the chopsticks to a degree when I ate the dish straight out of the microwavable plastic packaging. An artfully designed blue ceramic bowl would have been much nicer. But there was a certain functionality with the plastic, dual-compartment tray. After microwaving, it was malleable enough to deliberately spill the curry side onto the rice side bit by bit. There's something a little incongruous about using wooden chopsticks to eat Asian food out of a flexible plastic tray. But nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

The jasmine rice is exactly the same as all of Trader Joe's jasmine rice, included in many of their Thai and Indian dishes. No complaints there. The texture of the shrimp was surprisingly good for a frozen meal. And the green curry added a truly unique flavor to the food. I don't recall the exact wording of it now, but the box described the green curry as something along the lines of "a mild curry, yet not without some heat." I'd say that's a fairly accurate statement. It's moderately spicy. It's a flavorful kind of kick. It agitates the insides of the mouth a bit, but does not do so in vain. It adds a wonderful amount of zesty taste.

My biggest issue with this product was the miscellaneous matter that found itself swimming about within the curry. There were little bits of vegetables that I found quite unnecessary, and finally there was an unidentifiable substance with a texture not unlike that of sand. Fortunately, since I swished the curry over onto the rice gradually, I didn't really take note of this sandy silt until I was nearly finished with the dish, since it had mostly settled to the bottom of the curry side of the partition.

Sonia did not partake of this dish with me. Thus, I shall follow our precedent for such an instance and simply double my own score. I give it three and a half out of five stars, with virtually all of the points lost due to the bizarre textures lurking at the bottom of the little pool of mostly-delicious curry.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.


  1. I wonder what on earth the miscellany was? This looks so good- perhaps it was spices that settled? Or... part of the shrimp??

  2. That's the same guess that a reader mentioned on our FB page: settled spices. I'm not really sure. Part of me thinks I should have stirred the curry right after I heated it, but another part of me thinks that would have made it worse.

  3. That's a generous score. I ate it once and couldn't get over how much it tasted like the ranch doritos.

  4. they don't use chopsticks in Thailand

    1. Yeah... I was going to say exactly the same thing.

  5. I LOVED this product when I tried it. Very authentic. All the miscellaneous things in the curry are part of the cuisine. Sadly I've been looking for this product ever since I tried in in August but it has not reappeared in NYC