Google Tag

Search This Blog

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 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 wimpy 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 chili 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.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Trader Joe's Apple + Banana and Apple + Mango Fruit Bars

This is the kind of product I'd like to see more of in the checkout zone at TJ's. They're far more healthy than treats like salted caramel or pb&j filled candy bars, and in my opinion they're way better tasting than chocolate covered jelly sticks. As I've mentioned before, we're coming to TJ's because we're pretending to be slightly more healthy than folks who shop at regular grocery stores. That whole philosophy comes unraveled if Big Joe tricks us into buying a basket full of chocolate bars before we leave the store.

But if Big Joe ensnares us with treats that look semi-indulgent, but are actually nothing but pressed fruit, well then, the guilt-factor disappears. I'm all for being tricked into eating healthier. And sometimes that's the only way I'll eat better. I mean, I realized there was fruit in these bars. But that's all there is. Similar to TJ's new cold pressed juices, there's nothing in these bars but fruit. But in this case, you only have to spend a buck to try the product. The apple banana bar has two ingredients: apples and bananas. The apple mango bar, likewise, has only two ingredients: apples and mangoes.

The bars are slightly chewy, and I think that's due to the fact that they're not too dry. They aren't the same as banana chips or dried apple slices. They're way more moist than either of those. But they're not dripping with juice like fresh fruit, either. They're really just bits of fruit bound together by their natural syrupy goodness. They're fairly filling for how small they are, probably due to the 2g-3g of natural fiber in them, although I certainly wouldn't have minded if they were a tad larger.

Flavor-wise, you can't expect much more than you'd expect from fresh fruit, although the juices of each ingredient do intertwine and commingle with one another, creating some interesting fruit-salad-esque taste combos not to be found in a lone piece of fresh fruit. I definitely liked the banana flavor slightly better than the mango flavor. I kept wishing the mango bar had chile powder on it. I guess I could have added it myself, but too much of it could have easily ruined the taste. Texture-wise, there were only very subtle differences between the two bars, and quite frankly, I don't even remember which bar we took a picture of to show texture. They both looked really similar. If I had to take a guess, I would say this is the mango bar in the photo. There were a couple of other flavors we haven't tried yet, so if you have any insights about those, please share in the comments below!

All in all, this is a TJ's checkout win. Sonia liked them even better than I did, giving them four stars each. I'm gonna go with four stars for banana and three and a half for mango.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Apple + Banana Fruit Bar: 8 out of 10.
                    Trader Joe's Apple + Mango Fruit Bar: 7.5 out of 10.

You Might Like: