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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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Trader Ming's Chicken & Vegetable Wonton Soup

This wonton soup isn't quite up to par with wonton from a good Chinese restaurant. It's certainly not bad, though. Again, we're talking about something that's ready in minutes in the microwave, and since there are very few other frozen grocery store versions of this type of dish, we wind up comparing it with restaurant food—which, of course, gives the Trader Joe's product a distinct disadvantage. Poor TJ's.

But quite often, their frozen dishes somehow find themselves in the same league as restaurant-quality foods. This happy little bowl of Asian soup is definitely much better than something I'd expect from a frozen microwave dish, but it's not quite as good as soup I'd expect from the local Chinese place (the good local Chinese place, not the sketchy place on the corner that's been shut down for selling cat-meat).

The wontons were actually the best part of this stuff. I can tell there's actually some chicken in the dumplings, and I've no complaints about the dough. The broth is what you'd expect - probably the hardest aspect of the soup to screw up: it's salty and a little miso-esque. What I thought fell a little short of the mark were the vegetables. They simply tasted like they had recently been frozen...which of course, they had, but because we know TJ's can do the impossible, we want them to do it all of the time. The veggies certainly weren't bad, but they just didn't taste fresh to me. Perhaps a slightly different array of greens would allow its recent frozenness to be masked a bit more by the salty broth and microwave magic. It seems to me that it's a bit difficult to mask an unfresh pod of peas. They're sooo tasty when they're fresh...and just so...mediocre when they're not.

Sonia gives it a 3. I'm torn between a 3 and a 3.5. But I think I'll go with a 3.5, just because TJ's used the name "Trader Ming" and not just plain old "Trader Joe." I like it when they use those unique ethnic names. They should use them more often.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10 stars.

10 comments:

  1. I overheard an tj employee say that she just makes it from scratch.. she takes the frozen chicken cilantro wontons, adds broth and whatever veggies... much easier and at least you know how much salt is added...

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  2. I should have checked this site first b/c I bought 2 packages of this today and ate 1. Well, I just ate the wontons b/c the broth was so bad. Tasted like... this may sound gross but the first thing that came to mind was the sweat from a shoe after a long run. Not that I've ever tasted that! But really, it tasted like sweaty feet. And it's very difficult to screw up wonton soup too. I'm usually a huge TJ fan, but this was terrible and I'm either going to return the second package or give it to my dog.

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    1. I need to update my review of this - I didn't have anything else to eat, so I had the second bowl. I have to say, it was much better than the first. I don't know why it tasted different than the first time I had it, but the broth was nowhere near as offensively "feet" tasting. I'd give it 3.5 stars as well.

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  3. I honsetly can't believe there are negative reviews on this soup. My entire family loves this. ( all adults ) We all love the fresh taste and the great flavor. We think it is much better than our local favorite Chinese restaurant. Give it 4.5 stars.

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  4. i love this soup too!!! i think sometimes people like to just be negative and take out their frustrations on reviews. its weird but i see it all the time.

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  5. Seriously, this soup is fantastic. I'm so sorry to hear you guys dont like, but at a conveniently packaged 1.99 its the best thing for a hot lunch on a cold day in the office. My coworkers were going gaga over the packaging and the smell coming out of the microwave. i enjoyed the wontons as well as the broth. Though it was a bit salty, it was still flavorful. The veggies tasted incredibly fresh to me. I'm sorry there were so many poor reviews but i give this one 4.5/5 stars!~

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  6. I recently bought this soup and was really impressed. Granted if I was just at home and could make whatever, this would not be my first pick. But for bringing to work and only having to microwave it...its great!

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  7. I am eating this soup as I write my review. I think it is fantastic for a quick lunch option. The veggies taste fresh, the wontons are perfectly done and the broth is exactly what wonton soup broth is supposed to taste like. As someone who is not usually a fan of TJ prepared foods, I am going all out and giving this one a 4.5/5.

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  8. it is a great soup but I can see why people think its bland. my version: add ramen, lemon and the wonton soup to make my own wonton ramen soup! filling, low-cal, and delish.

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