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, May 29, 2013

Trader Ming's Stir Fried Vegetable Rolls

I really wish I read food labels a little more carefully. In fact, there should be more of them. A lot more of them. GMO free? Organic? Fair trade? No antibiotics? Slap it on the label. Conversely, if it's some good ol' ammonium-washed beef or full of wood chips or even worse, straight from the gates of Monsanto, let me know about that, too. I think all of that should be mandatory. Let me know what exactly what I am buying to make an informed purchase. There shouldn't be a controversy about these kinda things.

Although, to be honest, I'd still probably screw things up and buy something I really shouldn't have. Like these Trader Ming's Stir Fried Vegetable Rolls. See, I snatched them on a solo trip, and my eyes inserted the word "egg" before "rolls" and missed the vegan V. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but had I noticed that, I would have turned the package over to read the ingredients to see what all was wrapped up in lieu of the typical egg roll ingredients, would have noticed the word "mushrooms", recalled that my wife absolutely detests all thing fungi, and would have moved on to a different dinner option. But that's not what happened, and all of that didn't dawn on me until about 10:30 at night when I snapped these awful pictures of them after a long day of cubicle jockeying, baby wrestling/juggling and house-working. I kept all that to myself, though, in hopes that if these were good enough as they were, with all the other stuff included, maybe, just maybe, Sandy wouldn't notice. Dinner could conceivably be salvageable if my man Trader Ming could come through as he almost always does.

Welllll....that would be a no. I baked all five rolls in the oven for just over half an hour, so a little past their recommended bake time of about 25 minutes. These needed more time, as while the wrappers were mostly crunchy and crispy and pretty tasty (dead ringer for crunchy lo mein noodles), all the wrapper parts that were touching the baking sheet were soggy and drippy and kinda nasty. That's even with turning them. And for Sandy, the wrapper was pretty much the highlight. One bite in and she grimaced. "Ugh! Nothing but mushrooms!" she said as she dumped out all the innards. Indeed, the insides were pretty much mushrooms and bean sprouts with a couple tofu tidbits all kinda mushed together in some grayish soy saucy substance. For some reason, the TJ Indian Hot Pockets (not their real name) came to mind, not because these rolls and those pouches were overly similar in taste, but because of the nondescript disappointing filling. Even at about 11 at night, when dead tired and hungry enough to consider eating my own shoe with enough hot sauce on hand, they were a major downer.

Must be that I'm a little too opposed to wasting food, as I ate two rolls that night, plus took two for lunch the next day, and ate them despite the rest of the wrapper getting all sogged up, thereby losing the best thing they had going for them. At least Il know not to drop my $3.99 on them again, as I can ensure these will not be a repeat purchase. Sandy's a little more adamant about that - when I mentioned I'd be writing this review, she just made what would be instantly and internationally recognized as a "barf face", made some sort of corresponding sound, and shuddered. And somehow that translates to a one, which must mean she really liked the few crispy bites of just wrapper she had. For me, these no-ovo-uh-ohs shouldn't have been the near disaster they were, but I'll go with a two.

Bottom line: Trader Ming's Stir Fried Vegetable Rolls: 3 out of 10 Golden Spoons      


  1. My husband and I both tried these for the first time this past weekend, and both of us disliked them as well. We're so accustomed to really liking most things we purchase at TJ's that I'm hoping we don't accidentally buy these again!

  2. I like them & have bought them several times. I put them in a toaster oven & they cook up just fine for me (need to turn them a few times). They go well with the sweet chili sauce.

  3. I have them in my freezer and am now afraid. I hate mushrooms. What was I thinking?!

    1. Learn from my mistake and go return them next time you shop. TJ's has an absolute no-hassle return policy that I would've taken advantage of except it'd be returning two soggy rolls and that just seems weird.

  4. I've bought them and loved them. My boyfriend who detests anything vegan enjoyed these as did my mom (I wasn't aware they were vegan OR the fact they had tofu in them). But I will buy them again. I admit I cooked these for like 40 minutes or so and the outsides were nice and crunchy. They don't stand up to being refrigerated so all have to be eaten the same day.

  5. I refuse to use Drymax diapers because my baby has such sensitive skin so I love that they still have a product without Drymax features. Simply the best kind of diapers on the market.
    honest company

  6. Yup, we got these on our most recent trip to TJ's (our closest is 2hrs away, wah!) and my whole family disliked them :(

  7. I tried these and I didn't like them either. I just keep them in the freezer at work, hoping someone will eat them..lol

  8. I tried these twice thinking maybe the first batch was just ill-prepared. Nope! Terrible both times.

    have you tried the Mint Icre Cream Mini Mouthfuls yet? They ardeeeelissh.

  9. What a bunch of haters! My girlfriend and I love these. They're hard to get crispy and fall apart sometimes, but they're quite delicious!


  10. horrible at first bite, tasted like mildew and we all spit into the sink, i was shocked that TJ's could pass off such gross food, it is baffling to me, these were beyond inedible

  11. I Googled reviews on those things because I was curious to see if anyone liked them as much as I do. I am starting to wonder if I have weird taste in food, or if I just simply like almost everything.

  12. I love them so so so much! I came here through the same route as Miss C, I don't think we have weird taste, I think for me I just like mushroom and bean sprouts. I buy these all the time!

  13. Did not like these at all. Nor did my wife.

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