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?"

Search This Blog

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp

It should be pretty simple, really. Read a food package, have a reasonable understanding of what's inside and what it would taste like. Or read the ingredients or nutrition label, and figure out if it's a product you should/want to eat or not. That's not so easily always the case, of course, and I'm not talking about personal error to cause a misjudgement (though those rolls were still gross). Just last week I reviewed Trader Joe's Honey Butter Chips, and made mention of the bag stating 70 calories per serving. That caused several readers to report seeing signs at their local TJ's stating they were actually 150 calories per serving. Upon further reflection, a label error makes more sense than chips made from more or less the usual ingredients having half the caloric value of their fried spud brethren. Doesn't make that any less frustrating, of course.

Here's a less devious example: Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp.

Should be easy, right? Honey. Walnuts. Shrimp. I know what all those taste like separate, and can imagine what they would be like altogether, and my mental tongue thinks its delicious. Can't be much more straightforward than that.

So why do I taste nothing but pineapple?

Well, yes, the walnuts and shrimp are also present, and obviously so, but the honey? Not so much. It's there as a subtly sweet lingering flavor, in a delicious manner, but the overarching taste by far is pineapple. It totally takes over the milky sauce that, like other similar TJ's products, comes in a separate packet to defrost and pour over/mix in the shrimp. Unlike most other TJ's products, there's actually more than enough sauce, enough to leave a veritable puddle, instead of the usual just-barely-enough portions. Wish we had some cauliflower rice on hand to help sop all that up, because it's pretty tangy, sweet, and fruity...you know, like a pineapple should be, at the expense of honey flavor that I'd be hardpressed to discern if I didn't know to look out for it.

It's all pretty good otherwise. The shrimp baked up extremely well in the oven, and were firm and fresh with a crispy tempiura batter that held up well in the sauce. TJ's got that down to a science. The walnuts were a little sparse, but when present added a little earthy crunch. Pretty tasty overall, but only if you like pineapple.

Sandy swears this is very similar to a dish we ate two years ago at a Chinese New Year celebration we attended. I'll take her word for it...I can barely remember dinner from two days ago, let alone two years ago on a night we were served about 20 different dishes. It was about $6 or $7 for the shrimp, and was ample enough portion for us two adults, so a good value compared to take out/delivery. We both enjoyed it quite a bit, but really, a more accurate product name would be Pineapple Walnut Shrimp, which sounds just as delicious to me. What say you?

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Honey walnut shrimp is definitely a chinese festival item. So wife is probably right. White sauce is mayo, honey, condensed milk.

    It can be yummy with candied crispy walnuts. Interested in what this would taste like.

  2. Weird. The rather common Chinese version is pineapple free. Since the sauce is so simple you could certainly whisk together your own sauce while it cooks- although i think it's fine with milk or evaporated milk (previous comment about condensed milk i think should be evaporated milk- not the super sweet condensed milk)

  3. But does it taste like Panda Express's Honey Walnut shrimp?

    1. I just had it for dinner for the first time. I actually found it better than Panda Express. My Husband always gets it when he goes to Panda and he likes Trader Joe's better. It cooks quick and the sauce is a nice heavy sauce that is sweet. I got more of a honey butter flavor. It's really good.