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, July 13, 2012

Trader Ming's Pad Thai and Peanut Satay Noodles

So...I have to start this entry off with a congrats to Russ and Sandy, the other half of What's Good at Trader Joe's, on the birth of their first baby, an adorable girl, born on 7/11/12. Awesome. Everybody's healthy and cute and ready to eat more Trader Joe's food. Rock on.

You might not want this stuff to be the first TJ's food in baby's mouth. Number one, I'm not sure infants are supposed to eat semi-spicy, highly-salty, instant-type noodles. But since Sonia and I don't have a kid yet, there's absolutely no way to be sure. Number two, they're really not that good.

Sonia preferred the Satay. I preferred the Pad Thai. Make no mistake, this stuff is not nearly as disgusting as Trader Joe's Satay Peanut Sauce. That stuff tasted rancid. This stuff just tasted...not that good.

Both dishes were void of texture, except for some very cheap noodles in a slimy sauce. They weren't rubbery, which in my opinion, would be the worst-case scenario. They weren't tough. They were just there. There was no meat. There were no vegetables. No crispy ricey things. Just noodles. And sauce. We both decided they needed a little something. So we added the only other thing we had in our freezer: Lean Cuisine Fajita Spring Rolls, which by the way, they do not sell at Trader Joe's.

And some people say we're not real foodies.

The spring rolls added some vital texture to the dishes and made them edible. Sonia stuck with the Peanut Satay. She said the Pad Thai tasted sour. I thought the Peanut Satay tasted sour, when it should have been, like, nutty and sweet. Both of us put Sriracha on our noodles. It helped. But in any case, I think I'll opt for ramen in the future.

On the right is displayed the nutrition info for the Pad Thai. Let it be noted that I was not able to display the nutrition info for the Peanut Satay opposite the Pad Thai because Blogger is being difficult right now. But I'll go ahead and tell you that there are somewhat fewer calories in the Peanut Satay. If anything, that's evidence to support my case: more calories = more deliciousness if you ask me...the Pad Thai is slightly better. Sonia's tastebuds must not be functioning correctly.

At any rate, she gives the Pad Thai 2.5 stars. And 3 to the Peanut Satay.

I give 3 stars to the Pad Thai. And 2.5 stars to the Peanut Satay. At $2 per box, I guess you get what you pay for.

Trader Ming's Pad Thai Noodles. Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10 stars.

Trader Ming's Peanut Satay Noodles. Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10 stars.


  1. Thanks for all the great reviews 15G of fat would stop me from buying - glad to know I am not missing anything.
    Love your site.

  2. What a disappointment! I'm always on the search for delicious store-bought pad thai, but haven't run across it yet! What's baby girl's name?

    1. Hi Emily, no offense but we're preferring to keep her name, etc, at this point. Everyone is doing great though! Can't wait until she can help with our blog :)

    2. I think I missed the word "private" in there somewhere :)

  3. I agree, I ate these before I read this review and they are horrible.

  4. I completely agree with your review. I bought two of the Trader Joe's peanut satay to have for emergency lunches (you know, those days where you can't get your act together and grab a packaged lunch) and it is "meh" at best. Wish I had seen your blog entry before I bought these!

  5. Phew, these are a most unique combination of nasty and weird tasting! I bought the Satay because of the price, and the noodles are a gummy, strange texture, and the sauce has an aftertaste I just can't put my finger on. There's cheap, and then there's "leave it on the shelf."

  6. Ok, I just made an attempt at eating these. It smelled alright before I cooked it, but after it was done, I took one bite and threw it straight in the trash. I've never tasted something so nasty in my life. I had the Kung pao ones. I should have listened to you guys. How did they even get a rancid tasting flavor in the sauce? I expect certain things from TJs, but not these.

  7. I had the Kung Pao version last night... and like the previous commentator, it went straight in the trash. I should've known right away, as the sauce smelled TERRIBLE before microwaving and shockingly, the microwave did nothing to fix that. It was one of the most disgusting things I've ever eaten. How is this product on the shelves?

  8. I liked it. It just needed more, so it served as a good base. Certainly not the same as one made at home or restaurant.

  9. disgustin' , not even worthy as a base to improve on

  10. Barf. I threw the Kung Pao one out after two bites.
    The peanut satay:
    Used 1/3 of the sauce
    Tossed the meal in a pan where I'd just browned some chicken breast
    Added the cubed chicken breast to the noodles
    Fresh cilantro
    Fresh green onions
    Added delicious Spanish style peanuts
    A little peanut oil
    Finished it with a lime wedge


    The noodles remind me of those miracle noodles made of seaweed. Bouncy and gummy. The sauce smelled bad. Vinegar and sugar and nastiness. I don't understand trader joes right now. What happened. Barf barf barf.

  11. Oh also the Kung Pao smelled like the time my husband got bad takeout Chinese and brought the leftovers home but left them in his car all weekend by accident. Not kidding. It smelled so bad I had to wrap it in plastic and take it out to the trash can on the curb.

  12. The kung Pao is too vinegary but I actually love the peanut noodles for a quick lunch.

  13. I made the mistake of eating this before reading any reviews. I had the Pad Thai and it was gross. I am not a picky eater, BTW. 5.5 out of 10 is too generous of a score. I threw it out after only two bites, one with and one without Sriracha.