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, June 15, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Chili Chicken

It's an all-time classic and perennial top-seller, and perhaps most impressively, the inaugural member of our blog's Hall of Fame AKA "The Pantheon." Naturally, we're talking about TJ's Mandarin Orange Chicken. It's a pretty consistent winner in our book, and though occasionally imitated, it's never quite duplicated.

Naturally, with this being THE  Summer of Mango, here comes the newest variant: Trader Joe's Mango Chili Chicken. You can't tell me that doesn't sound gooo-ooooo-ooood. Some fruity sweet sauce glazed over some tempura-battered chicken, with a little kick of heat, with some chunks of mango tossed in for good measure, for just $4.99 - oh yeah, that's an easy sell.

I guess that's why, although solid, this chicken is still kinda disappointing.

Sans mango chunks, if side by side, I'm not 100% I would be able to tell the mandarin orange and mango chicken apart. They're just too similar.Yeah, there is the different flavor inflection from the mango as opposed to an orange...but it's not as divergent as it should be. And there's no discernible spice at all - if there were, my almost four year old wouldn't to'uch it, and she happily gobbled it down. And the mango chunks, well...after being frozen and reheated again, they seemed more reminiscent of canned pears than the tasty goodness I know a mango can be.

So yeah, kinda a bummer after our initial excitement. The dish just seems like it ought to be a more distinctive, different dinner than it actually is. Great idea, lazy execution...but we'll probably buy it again for another easy dinner night that everyone in the family reasonably enjoyed enough. Double threes.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mango Chili Chicken: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

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