Trader Joe’s SQUIGGLY NOODLES


Here’s a NEW Trader Joe’s item: “Squiggly Knife Cut Style Noodles with Soy and Sesame Sauce”. This package of dried wheat noodles plus a sauce had a promising look. It does say its a “Product of Taiwan” for one thing so made in Asia.

How are they though? First, I made them the way it says on the package: “Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add noodles. Cook 4 minutes. Drain and add sauce packet”. Just FYI serving just these noodles & sauce will not make a very tasty dish. To be tasty, you do need to add a few things (protein. veg) to make these into something tasty and filling. So when I made them as directed we were disappointed in the noodles. My wife’s comment was the noodles themselves just weren’t great quality noodles and tasted kind of cheap. Strike one. But I did give them a second chance with a different take. The second time I decided to stir fry these, I boiled them – for a bit less (2-3 minutes) – drained them and put into a bowl with a teaspoon of oil mixed in so they wouldn’t stick together. In a wok I sautéed ginger, garlic, sliced veggies and egg. I tossed in the noodle and stir fried it all for a minute or two before adding my own sauce mixture to coat them. We both thought they came out way better this way as a stir fried noodle dish. Now about that that Sauce Packet: Ugh! The sauce packet isn’t very good. Rather than using their (fake tasting) “Soy and Sesame” sauce I would suggest using your own; Soy sauce, a spill of toasted sesame oil, chopped garlic of course – maybe ginger, and if you have some, a little oyster sauce. Too much work? OK, you can add TJ’s SOYAKI and Chili Onion Crunch. If you insist on using the included fakey sauce packet I’d say use only say half and taste as you go (even if only to reduce sodium). FYI the Sodium listed is 40% which is of course almost half of your daily recommended amount right there (from the sauce obviously not the noodles). Many packaged Asian foods have a fair amount of sodium, so you should read the labels. TJ’s “SQUIGGLY NOODLES” are $4.99 for 4 noodle packs.

Basically I will give this a MEH. They’re OK, not great. If you eat it as-is with the sauce packet you will probably be disappointed. However spend a little effort and fix it up, you will improve it, it has some potential to be way tastier, especially I think stir fried as mentioned. Even just adding a runny egg on top will improve it 100%. Chopped scallions, a must and cilantro if you like it too.

If you really want to make this into something you might try doing Aaron of Aaron and Claires’s Garlic Chili Noodles (see video) or at least get some tips making noodles like this

Here’s what Trader Joe’s themselves have to say: https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/squiggly-knife-cut-style-noodles-074472

INGREDIENTS: NOODLES (WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, SALT), SAUCE PACKET (SOY SAUCE [WATER, GLUCOSE, DEFATTED SOY FLOUR, INVERT SUGAR SYRUP, WHEAT,SALT, CARAMEL COLOR, YEAST EXTRACT POWDER, MALIC ACID], SHALLOT SEASONING SAUCE(CANOLA OIL, SOY SAUCE (WATER, SOYBEANS, WHEAT, SALT), WATER, SHALLOT POWDER, SUGAR, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SALT, CHILI SAUCE (CHILI PEPPER, SALT), GARLIC POWDER, YEAST EXTRACT POWDER, NATURAL FLAVOR, GLUCONO-DELTA-LAC-TONE, BLACK PEPPER, PAPRIKA EXTRACT, ALPHA TOCOPHEROL ACETATE (TO PRESERVE), SESAME OIL).CONTAINS SOY, SESAME, WHEAT.

Trader Joe’s BLACK TEA and BOBA NON-DAIRY FROZEN DESSERT


Trader Joe’s seems to have a little thing for “Boba tea” and this is another incarnation of Boba Tea, in a frozen (non-dairy) dessert. Made with coconut milk this has small chewy tapioca pearls (boba) with swirls of brown sugar. More or less like the trendy “Bubble Tea” drink that has become popular recently in the U.S. This frozen dessert tastes like black tea with brown sugar with chewy black pearls of tapioca. Overall I would say I found this OK and interesting. It’s good but I am not crazy for it. However my wife (who’s Asian) liked this very much. She likes Asian style desserts. I said “this is good but I’d probably rather have a bowl of Coffee Bean Blast ice cream”. OK this is not a fair comparison, as this is not ice cream of course, its a non-dairy frozen dessert . So I will say “interesting”. If you want something a little different and want Non-Dairy and love tea, you might give this a try. It improved and tasted better after letting it sit out to defrost a little bit for the tapioca pearls to get softer. So give this about 5 minutes at room temp before eating. About $5 for a pint. We are divided in that I would not buy this again but my wife would, so a its a toss up in our house!

PRODUCT OF THAILAND

Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Syrup Vinaigrette (Fall Item)


FALL SEASONAL ITEM

This was a “Meh” for me. Just wasn’t too crazy for this vinaigrette which was one of those “sounded better than it tasted” items for me. Two tasters in our house didn’t go for this dressing and didn’t like it. I found the maple taste off putting and didn’t work at all. As opposed to honey which I like in a salad dressing. Frankly I can easily make a very good Vinaigrette myself in about 3 minutes using with oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard (optional, crushed garlic). Put these in a glass jar and shake shake shake. Frankly we prefer my Homemade Vinaigrette way over any dressing I can buy generally. However what I do think is worth buying at Trader Joe’s is their Asian Sesame Dressing which is excellent. TOASTED SESAME SALAD DRESSING. We just love that one so much. That is worth the same price as this one, $3.49. This one for us at least was a miss and a “meh”.

This was a “Meh” for me. Just wasn’t too crazy for this vinaigrette which was one of those “sounded better than it tasted” items for me. Two tasters in our house didn’t go for this dressing and didn’t like it. I found the maple taste off putting and didn’t work at all. As opposed to honey which I like in a salad dressing. Frankly I can easily make a very good Vinaigrette myself in about 3 minutes using with oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard (optional, crushed garlic). Put these in a glass jar and shake shake shake. Frankly we prefer my Homemade Vinaigrette way over any dressing I can buy generally. However what I do think is worth buying at Trader Joe’s is their Asian Sesame Dressing which is excellent. TOASTED SESAME SALAD DRESSING. We just love that one so much. That is worth the same price as this one, $3.49. This one for us at least was a miss and a “meh”. I won’t buy this again.

EASY BASIC VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

Trader Joe’s BOBA TEA Kit (Brown Sugar Tapioca Pearls Drink)


If you are not familiar with BOBA TEA (aka bubble tea) it’s a popular (very TRENDY) drink that has very large pearls of Tapioca that sink to the bottom. The tapioca pearls have a very chewy texture that most people really enjoy. The pearls are so large that to suck them up it comes with a special ultra wide straw. These drinks are sold by specialty tea shops like “GONG CHA” that serve up a premium (and a bit pricey) Boba Tea Drink.

Trader Joe’s BOBA TEA kit is a (poor) approximation of what you might get from a specialty Boba Tea shop. I have had Boba Tea from quite a few different Tea shops and in short, Trader Joe’s Boba Tea Kit won’t put any of them out of business. The drink you get in a real Boba Tea shop is way better than this, however if you’ve never had it before this may give you an idea of what “boba tea” is. As my wife commented “this is a Trader Joe’s version”. She meant it as a knock as in “cheap knockoff of the real thing”. A specialty shop boba tea drink usually costs about $5-6 bucks each. This kit sells for $5.50 for 4 drinks. So yes a cheap knock off. Granted, its a high profit item (sugar, tea, tapioca)

Anyway if you can’t have it at one of these shops and just want to try boba tea in that case then his might be a good starting point. For one thing the tapioca pearls in Trader Joe’s are much smaller than the ones that the shops make which are huge and so chewy. This kit has 4 pouches of a concentrate with the pearls. You mix this package up with milk or tea (or combo of the two) plus a handful of ice to dilute its sweetness, and you need to add enough of these things in, otherwise it will be way too sweet. I put the defrosted pouch into a glass jar with a lid so I could really shake it up with the added ice and liquid. The kit even has 4 big straws. Not bad, but again really no comparison to a Boba Tea shop drink. I probably wouldn’t buy it again.

Trader Joe’s SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI w. butter & sage


These are called SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI with sage and butter (frozen section). That sounded interesting to me so I decided to check them out. Results? Well they were tasty but frankly different than what we were expecting from the name. First off there turned out to be quite a bit of sauce in relation to the gnocchi than expected (kind of swimming in it) and the flavor of the sauce while nice, dominated over any subtle sweet potato flavor to the point that three of us tasting them all had the same comment : we couldn’t tell these gnocchi were “sweet potato” as opposed to regular gnocchi, other than these were slightly orange in color. The first 3 ingredients are listed as: sweet potato, wheat flour, potato. So there is regular potato. We didn’t think they were bad but they didn’t stand out as “Sweet Potato Gnocchi”. All 3 of us trying them for the first time said while kind of tasty it was probably something we would not buy again. Rather I could make the regular gnocchi I like at TJ’s and get them a bit crispy on the outside and then add some butter, sage and cheese. These were about $3.39. So giving them a “meh” as both plus and minus opinions on them.

Trader Joe’s VEGETABLE MASALA BURGERS


MEH

I’m not vegetarian. Still I like to try vegetarian options and see if they are any good. I love (repeat, love!) Indian food. This looked a bit appealing to me, the picture intrigued me and it says “with Authentic Indian Spices”. After all “Masala” means mixed spices. Tasting it, all I could think of “spices? what spices?”. To me, they’re almost non-existent. So short review is this is OK. It’s also not terribly exciting either and Indian food generally is. This could be served to an Indian baby. Most any authentic Indian dish is exploding with spices used very freely. Masala Dosa for example is basically mashed potato but has a ton of spices which make it delicious. This “masala burger” is primarily potatoes, so its kind of basically a mashed potato burger. It has pieces of vegetables in it, such as red pepper and corn. The concept is not bad – it’s just the lack of spices which defeats the purpose of calling it “masala” (mixed spices). The burger is OK, just lacking an authentic Indian spice profile which might make it tasty. If you put this on a bun as is it will basically be a potato sandwich.

These need something added to it. Sriracha. Peri-peri sauce. Zhough. Bomba. Magnifisauce. Some actual Indian Masala Spices if you have them. At least put some garlic powder on these if you make them and add some Hatch chile flakes. The only thing that perked this up a little bit was putting a little TJ’s TAMARIND SAUCE on, which is basically a tamarind chutney sauce. My wife told me “one was enough” and she usually scarfs down my cooking, so that was not a good review. If you’re vegetarian it might be worth checking out as an option as long as you fix it up. 4 burgers are $2.99. I won’t buy this again, however vegetarians might like this if they do something to it.