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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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Trader Joe's Spicy Thai Shrimp Fried Rice

Admittedly, Sandy and I are on a dinner time slump of sorts. We used to cook an actual "real dinner" almost every night, as opposed to our current habit of ripping open a box or bag and heating whatever's inside. Used to be that on "lazy nights" I'd end up making us some fried rice of some sort, using whatever we had around. These days, even that sounds like a bit of an undertaking. There's many reasons why I guess - tiredness from workday, the baby needing attention, the house needing to be cleaned and prepped for putting it on the market - but man, I at least miss actual cooking, but the allure of something quick and easy, with one less mess to clean up is pretty tempting these days. I'm hoping this will change as things hopefully begin to slow down, more veggies get in season, and the farmer's market/CSA season gets into swing.*

But until then, we still need to eat. Trader Joe's Spicy Thai Shrimp Fried Rice was a pretty natural pick up. Pretty much every word in its name is a buzzword that once my eyes see them, I'm instantly interested in whatever it is. It's like naming something Dinosaur Baseball Bikini Beer or Sleeping Baby Couch Netflix White Russian - there's too many good sounding things about it that I gots to see what it is.  I'm just glad that this name at least makes sense.

This dish isn't a terrible pick up. On some levels, the fried rice is a pretty straightforward, fairly typical variety one might expect from the freezer section. Typical veggies, typical spices, typical shortage of shrimp, and so on. But there's one or two extra things done right that help kick it up a notch. The teenyThai lime leaves scattered about make a great, flavorful extra touch that I wasn't fully anticipating, even though I've become reacquainted with them recently thanks to these catchy cashews. Also, while the rice and other contents maintain an adequate level of spice that'd be accessible to most folks, the sliced red chiles actually kick things up several notches in the heat department. If you like heat, head for them; if not, avoid them, and the rest of your dinner should be unscathed. And thankfully, TJ's has kept up its track record of of having only fresh, firm, delectable shrimpies included, which is not the norm I've experienced at other chains. 

That's not to say it's a perfect dish. According to the label, this is a four serving bag. I ensure you it is not. Sandy and I, who have been watching our portion sizes, were easily able to polish it off without much trouble in one sitting. Need more evidence? There were only seven shrimp in the bag. Tell me how four people split seven shrimp. If you need to feed a crowd bigger than two, I'd say get an extra bag, or at least add some extra protein like some eggs or cashews. I for one am glad that frozen egg bits were not included, unlike other shrimp fried rice offerings in the past.

Other than that, this particular iteration made a decent enough dinner. Grab some spring rolls and you can make a reasonable approximation of a Thai dinner out at a fraction of the cost. I misplaced the receipt, but this cost about four bucks if I remember right. Seriously, only about a small handful of shrimp keep this away from a much higher score. Also, if this didn't give poor Sandy a little bit of heartburn after the fact. I told you to give me those chilis, love, because you're hot enough the way you are, and you just had to roll your eyes. Tsktsk. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Spicy Thai Shrimp Fried Rice: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons   

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* Sandy and I are jumping aboard the CSA bandwagon this year, and quite honetly, I'm frightened about it. The reason can be summed up in one word: kohlrabi. Never had one, have no idea what to do with it, and it reminds me of the veggies from Super Mario 2 that you throw at the bad guys. When's the last time you saw a Shy Guy riding an Ostro around in real life? Thought so. So what the heck am I supposed to do with it? We'll see.....

8 comments:

  1. I did a CSA a couple of years back. It was great, but it wasn't as exotic as we hoped. Ah, that's the local component.

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  2. No need to fear kohlrabi!! I like to peel it, cut it up, and eat it raw with peanut butter. It has a great crunch and a pretty mild taste. I think some people may cook with it but once I figured out it was a great snack I never even tried. Also, it lasts forever in the fridge :)

    Thanks for keeping this blog updated- it is my go to trader joe's guide!

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Kohlrabi really just tastes like broccoli stems to me. It's good raw or cooked in a stirfry.

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  5. Has anyone seen this in stores lately? I bought a bag in January, and have not seen them since.

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  6. I'm sorry, this was disgusting. After I ate it, I wanted to read your blog, I thought you'd have something really funny to say about the awful flavor of this fried rice dish. Disappointed to read evenly a mildly favorable review. Couldn't eat the second bit.

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    1. I agree, it was disgusting. We could not eat it ... horrible!

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  7. It was delicious. Certainly not enough but glad we ate it with an ample serving of salad. For 4$!!! Wow! We can't go wrong. It's going to be winter here soon, the winter slump in Brooklyn gets all too real and dampening. This was flavourful to be honest. I loved it. I dirtied 1 pan, 1 ladle, 2 forks and 2 plates. I would admit sadly that I could go for a 2nd round no problem �� #I'mstillhungry

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