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 6, 2015

Trader Joe's Thai Shrimp Gyoza

Oh, there's those magical words again: "Thai" and "shrimp." What wonderful, wonderful words, especially when joined together, such as here with Trader Joe's Thai Shrimp Gyoza. Shrimp is almost certainly my favorite seafood, and Thai food...man. When I first discovered Thai food, with the ranges of flavors from complex spice layers to sweet, coconutty curries, I couldn't eat Chinese food for about a year afterwards, because I found it to be so lacking in comparison. And I love Chinese food. Being a fan of Trader Joe's other frozen wontons and similar items, both Sandy and I couldn't wait to try out these gyoza, a new item for us out here in the 'burgh.

Can't lie: They're disappointing. I wish it weren't the case, but we swear to tell the truth here, and truth is this: They don't taste like anything special at all. Well, the shrimp itself is good, in that typically fresh, not salty or gritty way that TJ's shrimp almost always is, but other than that? There's nothing that sets these apart in any discernible way, shape or form. There's no sweet and no heat at all. It's just a straightforward shrimp dumpling, which to my fairly uneducated 'merican palate doesn't register as "Thai" one bit. There's no complexity or subtlety, no nothing, heck, not even a splash of fish sauce - just shrimp filling "flavored" by some pretty run-of-the-mill spices and wrapped in dough. If anything, I tasted a little garlic.

Granted, they're not horrible, either. There's something to be said for greasy comfort food, which the shrimp gyoza definitely had that sense about them. It's just...we expected more. I really can't think of anything terribly interesting to say here, just because these are pretty mundane munchies.

Sandy and I had them for a weekend lunch after M finally passed out for an afternoon nap, and while these may make their way into our cart once more someday, we're not going to go out of our way to ensure that, either. Maybe we're just spoiled by other TJ's shrimp goodies or our own Thai food experiences that when these prawn-esque potstickers offered a pretty mellow, stripped down approach, the two of us just have to be a little bummed. I don't recall the exact price, but I think it was somewhere in the $3.50 to $4 range, so at least it wasn't a huge setback for a little letdown. Sandy's going to call them a 3, which she sees as a perfectly middle score, while I'm going with 2.5 myself. Middlin' score for a meh meal. Sounds just about right to us.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Thai Shrimp Gyoza: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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