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, February 21, 2014

Trader Joe's Sai Tung Green Curry & Red Gaba Rice

Well, I've written at length before about my love of most Thai cuisine, so let's skip all that mumble grumble and get down to the business of reviewing one of the latest, greatest, easiest, tastiest, purportedly authenticish dishes that has been scavenged from the corners of the earth and brought right to a freezer aisle near you -  Trader Joe's Sai Tung Green Curry & Red Gaba Rice.

Man, that's a long product name.

Anyways, according to Trader Joe's, "sai tung" is Thai for "take out." I wasn't able to find independent verification of that translation in the 5 seconds I spent on Googling the matter, so let's roll with that. Hmm, ethnocentrically speaking, I thought that take out food was more or less an American thing. I wonder what the quality of take out Tupperware in other parts of the world are.

Overall, the sai tung is a pretty respectable dish. First, it's MASSIVE. The product shot I included here? That's less than half of what came on our $2.99 platter. It's kinda obviously packaged to be a microwavable lunch or dinner onto itself, which even for a guy with a bottomless pit of a stomach like me, would be a bit much. Sandy and I instead used it as a side dish the other night with some baked fish. The rice and curry come frozen in a compartmentalized plastic dish, not (unfortunately) the cool looking bowl on the box cover. And even though I followed the instructions carefully, it still took almost twice as long to nuke as the directions stated because both the rice and the curry are so densely packed in. Maybe Nathan can give me some lessons, that microwave wizard him.

Once it was finally heated, it tasted downright good. The red rice is of the sprouted variety, so it's a little extra protein and a lot of extra bite, kinda a texture closer to quinoa than regular white rice. Grainy, a little chewy, but definitely good. As for the curry, it doesn't disappoint. The sauce starts off nice and sweet and coconut milky, before laying a spice wallop on the taste buds before quickly retreating back to the sweetness. I'll admit it took me a few bites to really get into it, but once I was, I was hooked. I've had curries that were a little more complex and layered out at restaurants, but for a freezer meal, it was more than acceptable. There's a lot of not-common-in-USA greens mixed in - coconut shoots, morning glory, banana flowers - which if you don't mind chomping on something that kinda looks and feels like a soggy forkful of yardwork actually tastes pretty darn good in a greeny way. Sandy strategically avoided all that shrubbery, leaving more for me, which I didn't mind one bit.

"Oooooooh I like it," Sandy said when I asked for her thoughts a few minutes ago. "That curry sauce...." Whenever she says mentions she likes something and kinda trails off (which happens fairly commonly) I always kinda mentally picture her doing the Homer Simpson "Mmm, beer" thing. It was kinda surprising when she said she'd give it only a 2.5, though. She explained she artifically lowered her grade because she was subconciously upset she couldn't have more of it thanks to a diet regime she's trying out for a few weeks. "If I could've had the whole thing, like for lunch, I would've given it a four, probably," she said. Well, I'll give my a score a little boost to try and compensate. Good stuff.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sai Tung Green Curry & Red Gaba Rice: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons


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  2. Microwave directions were indeed pants. I would give this 4.5 spoons, myself. I liked it so much i felt compelled to come back here and post (and I'm not selling anything, either!).

  3. just had some for the first time - loved it!

  4. this was so delicious I ended up googling each of the ingredients to try and make it myself. I am often disappointed with frozen entrees, but I will say NOT THIS TIME!

  5. Just tried this today. Sorry to say but I did not enjoy it at all. I thought it had only one flavor note: spicy. Otherwise it was pretty tasteless and the texture of all the greens was somewhat unpleasant, like eating grass. I was also not impressed with the high calorie content.

  6. This might be the best thing TJ's has ever offered. Absolutely love it.

  7. Unfortunately this wonsderful dish has been discontinued! Has anyone been able to track down the manufacturer, who maybe sells it under a different label?