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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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Trader Joe's True Thai Pad See Ew

Back in March 2011, we reviewed Trader Joe's relatively unsuccessful, unappetizing Vegetable Pad Thai. Curiously, three months later, we noticed a sudden uptick in clicks on that particular post. We couldn't figure out where they were coming from. Our analytics weren't showing any new traffic sources. But after a bit of searching, we noticed people were Googling "Trader Joe's Vegetable Pad Thai" in huge numbers. So we Googled that phrase ourselves. Apparently the entire New York metro area had been enraptured by a court case involving an opera singer and a prestigious women's health doctor and a violent disagreement over the last box of veggie pad thai at an Upper West Side Trader Joe's. Of course, the biggest mystery in all of this is: of all the delicious TJ's products you might get into a cat fight over, why ever would it be that forgettable pad thai?

But anyway, the point is that the comments section on the aforementioned pad thai review turned into a mini-discussion about this product: Trader Joe's True Thai Pad See Ew. Comments from readers in regards to this product: "truly disgusting," "put the 'Ew' in 'Pad See 'Ew'," "I wouldn't wish this dish on anyone," and "one of the worst things I've ever picked up from TJ's." We've even had negative comments about it on our Facebook page. In fact, I've never heard anything good about it. Which is why we finally had to try it.

Although I don't disagree with the people who find this dish revolting, it's not SO bad, in my opinion, that I ever considered NOT clearing my plate. At no point did I seriously think about taking the unused portion back to TJ's and getting a refund, although, this will never be purchased in our home again, unless TJ's manages to repackage it, rename it, and trick us into thinking it's a new product entirely—which I certainly wouldn't put past them. Sonia described the vegetables as "slimy and chewy." The Chinese broccoli, in particular, was stringy. The noodles were way too soft—almost gelatinous. The tofu didn't blend in with the rest of the product, and the carrots seemed too firm.

In its defense, the product's flavor wasn't a complete failure. The tofu by itself tasted fine. The vegetables were fairly neutral, flavor-wise. The sauce might have been the best part. It was mildly garlicky and salty—but ultimately, it wasn't flavorful enough. It tried valiantly to rescue this doomed dish, but still failed in the end. I doubt even General Tsao's Stir Fry Sauce could have pulled this mess together. And even if the flavor had been pleasant, the troublesome texture of this pad see ew was most definitely its Achilles' heel.

2 stars from me. 1.5 stars from Sonia.

Bottom line: 3.5 out of 10.


  1. Agree. Pad see ew is one of my favorite dishes and this tastes nothing like the pad see ew you'd find in a restaurant or even attempt to duplicate at home. I tossed the tofu after trying it and attempted to save the dish with dark and light soy sauce - which made it palatable, but still not pad see ew. One of the biggest disappointments I've had from TJs.

    1. It's still unanimous, then. This product is an epic fail. Thanks for your input, JfP!

  2. When will TJ's and the public realize that frozen Asian food will never be good... Fresh is best!.. I've seen this product as well as others- the Bibimbap, I just laugh at... Its not the same as what I grew up on... believe me... I know TJ is trying to corner the market on Asian foods, sorry- they will never achieve it- at least w/the Asian community....

    1. Definitely, KBF.

      Fresh is always best, but this product is *particularly* disappointing, IMO.

  3. I wish I had seen this review before I made it last night. It's only saving grace was the sauce. It found I it inedible and how they determined there are five 3/4 cup servings I have idea. There is not even enough cooked product to feed 2.

    1. Good point about the servings! Agreed about the sauce.