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 11, 2014

Trader Ming's Five Spice Chicken and Asian Style Rice Noodle Salad

Another day, another dollar. Another day of uninspiring leftovers in a sparsely-filled refrigerator (we keep low stock when we're out of town often like we have been). Another day of TPS reports at the cubicle farm. Another day of being too cheap to order delivery from the cruddy area Chinese restaurants. So, to liven things up a bit...yep, another early morning TJ's run to try another salad and figure out if it's lunch-rotation worthy or not. Yeeeeeeeeehaw.

In the line-up this week: Trader Ming's Five Spice Chicken and Asian Style Rice Noodle Salad. Now that's a mouthful of a name. Know what there's not a mouthful of? The chicken. Okay, there's probably technically a literal full mouth's worth of grilled chicken strips, but once again, the infamous TJ chicken cheater strikes again. One respectable sized strip and few small munches (maybe adding up to another respectable sized strip) just isn't enough, no matter how tasty it is....which is too bad, because it is pretty darn good poultry.
Fresh, firm, gently spiced with some five spice (definite emphasis on the black pepper, but not offensively so) - it's some good bird. Too bad TJ's decided to flip a bird at us while doling it out.

Other than that, it's a decent enough bite. All the veggies  - cabbage, carrots, etc - kinda make a dry-ish coleslaw to go on top the rice noodles. Now, I'm not sure if I'm just really used to fried rice noodles, or overly cooked whimpy ones, because to describe these noodles as al dente is a bit of an understatement. They can probably double as fiber optic replacement strands. That's not necessarily a bad thing just...unexpected. I doubt I've had noodles as firm and vigorous as these fellas before, and like about that thing my wife mentioned the over night, if I don't remember it, it doesn't count. The chile lime dressing isn't too exciting one way or another, and one of the nice things is, there's more than enough that if you don't use all of it, you can save yourself some fat and calories without sacrificing too terribly much. It does strike me as an odd choice for an Asian-inspired salad (something sesame seems more appropriate to me), but, well, what do I know?

Sandy had one of these too a few weeks back, and while she doesn't distinctly remember too many details about it, she did recall that she liked it enough to get it again sometime if the need/opportunity arises. That's worthy of a four for her. For me...for the $4.49 I spent on it, I could have instead opted for a grilled chicken salad here from the work cafe which would have probably three times as much chicken on it. But then I'd want to get fries and cookies which then defeats the whole purpose of a salad. Consider the price point a draw, then. I too would get again, but I'll probably keep scoping out the salad options - anybody got a solid suggestion? Comment below!

Bottom line: Trader Ming's Five Spice Chicken and Asian Style Rice Noodle Salad: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons




6 comments:

  1. haven't tried this one.. have tried the one w/salmon... disappointed w/the salmon-overcooked and hard!... the noodles aren't meant to be cold.. i've never had rice noodles cold... whoever concocted this was not Asian ..lol
    I do like the crunchy broccoli slaw w/chicken... also the kale, broccoli slaw w/chicken and cranberries... hmm notice a pattern? the Greek salad is still a favorite- lite...

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  2. I just had the chopped Italian salad. Pretty darn good - but I did add some extra tomatoes.

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  3. If you're looking for something a little different try their Nutty Grain Salad. As the name suggests, we're talking quinoa, nuts, seeds, edamame etc. I enjoyed it. I also tried the Spinach, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry and Pecans one. Omnivores may want to add chicken to it but I liked it alone.

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  4. Best to worst:
    Harvest Salad with Chicken - Love the dijon dressing.
    Butternut Squash, Red Quinoa, and Wheatberry Salad -- Yum!
    Mexicali Salad - Lots of flavor. Also most popular at my store
    Field Fresh Salad - Pretty darn good. The currants make it special.
    Lemon Chicken & Arugula Salad - Pimento dressing is awesome
    Lemon Arugula Salad - Love the combo of sweet and savory flavors
    Southwest Salad - Decent, but not memorable
    BBQ Chicken Salad - decent, but not memorable
    Citrus Chicken Salad - Terrible. Was just sour.

    Yes, the portions are ridiculously small, but I do realize that's one of the reasons some people larger and less hungry than myself buy the prepared salads.

    If you're looking for a MAN-salad, you should try the Bacon & Spinach Salad, a.k.a. the salad for people who didn't want salad anyway. That thing is like half bacon.

    If all else fails, get the Healthy 8 Veggie Mix and add protein and dressing. Super good.






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  5. My favorite TJ salad is still the Crunchy Slaw with chicken and peanut sauce. So good....

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  6. Vietnamese serve cold vermacelli rice noodles all the time, and it's really good.

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