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, March 4, 2013

Trader Joe's Spicy Seaweed Ramen

TJ's has offered us a number of unusual, but surprisingly good soups over the years. I'm thinking Lentil Soup with Ancient Grains and Tomato and Red Pepper Soup. But, they've also offered a number of so-so selections like the Rice Noodle Soup Bowls.

In several past posts, I've mentioned that I love seaweed. And at least once I've mentioned that I hate kimchi and sauerkraut—the whole rotted cabbage deal just isn't my thing. Well, this dish has both seaweed and kimchi, but as the product's name would suggest, seaweed is more prominent in the soup. There's little more than a few kimchi flakes in the whole package. Thank goodness. But I do have to admit that they added a hint of excitement to an otherwise unremarkable broth.

The noodles are really good. They're thick and soft—but not too soft, depending on how long you cook them—and they've got about as much flavor as you can expect a ramen noodle to have. There seemed to be an excess of broth when we added the prescribed amount of water. Two cups I think. And less water would have meant a slightly stronger flavor in the broth, which I wouldn't have minded one bit. It was sorta spicy as it was, but I could have stood it being doubly so.

I also wouldn't have minded more seaweed. I liked the way the noodles and seaweed paired up, but I still had half my noodles left when the little green leaves started getting scarce. This product is a really easy, inexpensive international snack, but it's also unsubstantial and would benefit from a stronger broth and more seaweed. All in all, not a bad value, but probably not something we'll buy on a regular basis. I give it 3.5 stars. Sonia gives it an even 3. 

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10

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Here's a photo of the prepared product, with some of the broth drained out. We didn't waste the excess liquid. We used it in a culinary experiment so shameful, that I shan't mention it on this blog for fear you'll downgrade me from a "foodie-hack" to a "person who shouldn't be allowed to eat at all." 

Okay, you twisted my arm. I'll tell you. We added chicken hot dogs to make an Asian-American fusion dish. Please, kids, don't try it at home.

12 comments:

  1. The picture kinda scares me.. As far as kimchi if u are talking about the cabbage kind, I agree. My relatives use to make that version... I love the cucumber one better. They used the little pickling ones u see at the market.. Reminded me of an Asian (kosher) pickle... great crunch and a little spice.

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  2. Totally, KBF, cucumber kimchi is way better than the cabbage stuff!

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    1. have u tried the chocolate hazelnut cookies? now those are good...

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    2. I haven't tried those yet. Russ the other blogger reviewed them on here, but I don't think he was too impressed...

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  3. I did not like this at all! YUCK! Would only get 1 star (maybe!!) from me!!

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  4. Not vegetarian-- it contains bonito. The tag raised my poor little vegetarian hopes, only to crush them.

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  5. Just tried some. The 52% dv of sodium scared the holy hell out of me, so I cut the sauce in half and stayed with the 2 cups of water. It wasn't a potent broth but it was still spicy and good as far as Ramen goes.

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  6. That was pretty awful - super bland!

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  7. Horribly bland! It tasted like watered down spaghetti-os. I had to add hot sauce to be able to eat half of it

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  8. It would be really helpful if you could not tag things that contain fish as "vegetarian". :) It's everyone's personal choice to do what they do and I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but people who are committed vegetarians (for ethical reasons) don't eat fish. I got really excited this appeared to be veggie, but it contains anchovies & shrimp, so a no-no for me :/

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    1. Apologies, Kate. Totally didn't notice the anchovies and shrimp on the ingredients there! We'll try to catch that in the future!

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