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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Friday, November 18, 2011

Trader Joe's Vegetable Thai Kao Soi

If you like curry, you'll like this Thai Kao Soi. It's got some spice, and it's got a great balance of noodles and vegetables. It even comes with wonton-like crisps to put on top for a little extra texture. Trader Joe's usually does pretty well with vegetable dishes because they always throw in a great mix of veggies. When there's meat involved, TJ's tends to be a little stingy. There's always just enough meat to leave you wanting some more. But personally, I didn't miss the meat in this dish. Thai foods usually don't need meat because the flavors are always so rich without it. It's an extremely filling dish as it is.

We ate it with rice. It didn't really even need that, but it did help round out the meal. The Thai Kao Soi was on par with restaurant Thai curry. Good restaurant Thai curry. We used to go to this place in Hollywood called Jitlada. It was just a hole in the wall in some strip mall, but it was a nice hole in the wall. The friend of mine who introduced us to the place claimed that when the previous prime minister of Thailand visited Los Angeles, he stopped in and ate at this place. After I tasted the food, I could believe that claim, which originally sounded a little outrageous. There were photos of important-looking people adorning the walls of the restaurant, but then, there are photos of famous and important-looking people in Hollywood's hot dog stands and McDonald's.

I'm not sure if the prime minister of Thailand has ever stopped in to a Trader Joe's while visiting the U.S., but Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra, if you find yourself in America and you've a hankering for a microwaveable taste of home, I'd swing by a TJ's if I were you. Most of their Thai stuff is decent, considering most of it can be prepared in under 10 minutes. I'd avoid the Vegetable Pad Thai, but apparently the Red Curry Sauce is good. Interesting that we've reviewed two Thai items right in a row...and a week before Thanksgiving.

I'm all about an international Thanksgiving. Hopefully I'll get a little taste of that next week in NYC as I partake of my dinner with a Mexican, a Cuban, and an East Indian. One of the things I'm thankful for is that my wife and her friends allow a white person to hang out with them.

I really don't have any major complaints about this dish. Well, there's the 70% US RDA of saturated fat, but hey, that just goes to show you how authentic it is. Real curry ain't lite. It's creamy and coconutty and it's got a bit of a kick, and that's exactly what we've got here. Double 4.5's from Sonia and I. It's another near-Pantheon dish in our opinion.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.


  1. I loved this dish and, once again, can't wait till my next trip to stock up on this tasty dish.

  2. Real tasty, though a tad sweet for me. Next time I'll add some frozen peas or stirfry mix to beef it up.

  3. This is really good, I added some Thai chili so that it would taste authentic. Thanks.
    Apartment rent chiang mai

  4. This is the best thing I've found at TJ's yet, and I never would have tried it if not for your review. Thanks!

  5. Is this a shelf-stable item, or is it in the frozen foods section?

    1. It's frozen, just tried it the first time this week and it's AMAZING

  6. I just had this last night, and here is my objective evaluation. I say, objective, since it will give you exact counts of what I found inside the frozen version of this dish.
    The portion size is for one: 12.6 ounces.
    Wheat noodles: Those were the most of the content, I'd say 10 % by volume.
    Soy sauce: By far the biggest volume: about 75 %
    Vegetables: I found 1 broccoli spear, 1 cauliflower spear, 2 sweet pee pods, 2 matchstick shaped carrot slices, 4 pieces of 3/4 inch long baby corn, 3 little snow peas, and the crispy noodle packet, which must be about 1/4 cup. End of contents.
    The "sauce" is more a soup. Difference between soup and sauce: soup needs a spoon, since it is runny thin. Sauce is thick and will cling to the other food items to nap them. Can be taken up with a fork, while it clings to food pieces. Well, get out your spoon. This is soup.
    I liked the taste of the Kao Soi, because I like it sweetish and tangy.
    But... I won't buy it again, unless they label it "Thai Kao Soi Soup with sparse vegetables".
    I love to shop at TJ's for many reasons, but this won't ever be one!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, FC! It is pretty soupy, isn't it?

  7. Isn't it supposed to be a soup? I eat it that way, with some added coconut cream (from TJ's, of course) to make it super rich and tasty.

  8. Yes, it's a soup. All you have to do is look at the package to realize that.
    Love it!!!

  9. The following is a copy of the comments I just sent to contact us at TJ's website:

    On Thursday, 2/27/14, I could not find one of my favorites, I asked about Thai Kao Soi Soup. An employee checked and came back with the news that this product is being discontinued. How can this be true?. I like your version of this soup better than what I recently ordered at Noodle and Co. restaurant. Please give it a reprieve. It is one of the few things I can still enjoy due to severe Ulcerative Colitis.

    1. That's a shame. Hopefully they'll bring it back!