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, February 6, 2012

Trader Joe's Pasta with Sockeye Salmon & Asparagus

This is the fishiest thing I've had in a long time. Maybe ever. And relatively recently, I've had some day-old scallop soup from an all-you-can-eat buffet in Atlantic City that made me puke a couple hours later. In defense of this Trader Joe's concoction, it did NOT make me puke. But quite honestly, the semi-rancid scallop soup tasted a heck of a lot better on the way down.

The word "sockeye" doesn't sound particularly appetizing to me. Of course, salmon is almost always delicious. Sonia has always been a huge fan of salmon. I like fish in general, and pretty much any sort of seafood or swimmy animal meat (except for acquatic mammals, of course, but I don't think people really eat them anyway). Mahi-mahi, or "dolphin-fish," is not really dolphin. It's fish. But that's neither here nor there, so let's get back to this revolting, fishy pasta medley.

It's not the pasta or the veggies that ruined this dish. Not by a longshot. The pasta, veggies, and sauce were completely forgettable. Which is good in a way. If they had been any worse, I might have been tempted to stop shopping at TJ's altogether for fear of ever having another product as revolting as this one could have been. But if they had been significantly better, it would have been a crying shame that they were so utterly ruined by the fishiness of the fish they were packaged with.

The only thing that was really terrible about this dish was the fish. I've never had such fishy salmon. I've never had such fishy fish. Ever. And I've eaten Shark, Tilapia, Trout, Sunfish, Mahi-mahi, Salmon, Anchovies, Tuna, Halibut, and probably dozens of other varieties of fish. Sonia and I debated whether or not the stray cats in the neighborhood, who are no doubt on the verge of starvation here in the middle of a Pennsylvania winter (albeit a very mild one) would eat this most fishiest of fish meat to save their scrawny hides from a sad, slow, and painful death. We never came to a definitive conclusion.

My advice is that unless you have some really bizarre proclivity for unbelievably fishy-tasting things, that you should avoid this product at all costs. This is the most disappointing salmon I've ever had. Period. The salmon in $2.00 Lean Cuisine frozen meals is pure gourmet, top-shelf delectability compared to this. When asked what she had to say about the product, Sonia simply replied, "disgusting." She gives it 1 star out of 5. I was tempted to give it less than one full star, but I'll give it a 1 since the non-fish ingredients weren't terrible. But overall, this is an epic fish FAIL.

Bottom line: 2 out of 10 stars.

19 comments:

  1. I saw this in the frozen aisle and kept on walking.. The photo is not appealing.. yuck.

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  2. I wonder if you got a bad bag? My experience was much closer to the other review I've seen: http://www.clubtraderjoes.com/2012/01/trader-joes-salmon-and-asparagus-pasta.html

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  3. It sounds like our experiences were similar - the noodles and asparagus were okay, sauce was tasteless, and the salmon was terrible. Though my cat howled at me to give her some salmon, when I was finished and finally did, she refused to eat it. :P

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  4. I reported on this last month on the FB page, and gratified to have my opinion confirmed, hook, line and stinker. Really, do not bother. It will be the best $3.99 you never spent.

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  5. Um yeah, the salmon in this stuff was nasty...that seems to be the general consensus. One bad bag I could see...but 4? I'm pretty sure the Jessie who commented above is some kind of TJ's PR person...Jessie, tell the Trader Joe's higher-ups that we'll gladly make all our reviews positive if you pay us ;-) Well, at least I'll sell out...can't speak for Russ for sure...but until we're on TJ's payroll, we're going to bring the truth!

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    1. I, too, am completely for sale :)

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    2. No, sorry, I'm not. I'm a high school English teacher. I hope you were kidding because otherwise that's a pretty rude accusation to make.

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    3. Upon reflection I'm pretty sure I overreacted and that you were, in fact, kidding. My comment stands either way -- the salmon in my bag was decent. I'm wondering if there are multiple suppliers or if the supplier was changed at some point (which would have had to be pretty quickly after this was introduced).

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  6. Well Jessie, now I'm thinking you're somehow affiliated with "Club Trader Joe's." And if that's the case, it looks like you're in Seattle. And if I'm right about that, there's a good chance you did have a very different experience with your Sockeye Salmon. I'm guessing they have some decent Sockeye in the Pacific Northwest...and TJ's products do differ from region to region. So, why not post a dissenting opinion?

    I wish you and Steve well with "Club Trader Joe's." That is, if I'm right that you're affiliated with good ol' Stevie-boy. And if I'm wrong, then please disregard this entire comment.

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    1. I'm not affiliated with anyone. I don't know Steve from Adam. I simply enjoy Trader Joe's and reading blogs about food.

      I live in Delaware.

      This entire exchange has really brought me down, to be honest. All I posted was that I had a different experience with an item you reviewed. I won't do so again.

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    2. Jessie,

      you have every right to share your opinion about and experiences with this product.

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  7. Whoo-boy, I sure appreciate the warning about this product! I've picked it up a couple of times here in the Chicago 'burbs, but always put it back. Something about microwaving the fish was off-putting to me, and I'm a big salmon fan. Now that I know it doesn't taste good, I won't have to try it out for myself! Another disaster averted!

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  8. Glad we could help, Sharon! Too many great products at TJ's to waste money on this one!

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  9. I ate this today and actually really liked it. What's more, my 3 year old daughter did, too. Did you use the microwave or stove top?

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  10. I made this for dinner last night on the stove top and it was significantly "meh". Not overly fishy, just overly bland. Had the leftovers just now for lunch at work (cold, no less) and while the flavors were better, it was definitely pretty fishy. I like fishy, but won't be buying this again.

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  11. Oh my! I found this because I was googling to find out if anyone had a similarly negative experience with this dish. I should have gone with my instinct to not buy this--mind you, I have had some quite delightful frozen fish meals from TJ's before (I like the filet of sole as well as the wild salmon meals), but this was very fishy. So fishy that I became concerned two days later when I woke up with all the symptoms of food poisoning. I was in the hospital for 3 days. Now, I don't want to be an alarmist because I never received an official diagnosis. I was pumped full of IV antibiotics and recovered, thankfully. That said, I have a sneaking suspicion the sockeye salmon/pasta meal may have been the culprit.

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  12. I wish I had seen these reviews before I bought this because this was honestly one of the nastiest things I've ever had the displeasure of opening. Mainly I would say the fishy smell is so unbearable, that's what ruins it. I mention that because I think the taste is not as fishy and perhaps that's what differentiates the commenters above. It was literally inedible it smelled so bad and I've had a lot of pleasantly pre-prepared fish things from Trader Joe's (I really liked the mojito salmon you were meh on, and I dig their crabcakes for e.g.) But this one was so bad, the fan in my kitchen has been on and I am afraid to take out the garbage because I'm convinced the neighbourhood cats and racooons will go crazy. Jessie, you got lucky! I promise!

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  13. The whole thing just sounds gross! Weird flavor combos! Eww fishy flavor. Glad I didn't buy it!

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