When I moved to Los Angeles in 1998 I was a stranger in a strange land. Aside from college I never rented an apartment before LA. I leased my first car (Volkwagen Jetta, white!) that I loved driving. I had to figure out a new way to live and survive in a non-walking city. I had visited LA before so I had some casual favorites like Koo Koo Roo (like a fresher Boston Market) and Baja Fresh (Burrito Ultimo, now there are 2 locations in Manhattan) and Mandarette (orange prawns, chef’s special fried rice).
What I did not have was a grocery shopping place that spoke to me. That was until I went to Trader Joe’s. Between the snacks and frozen items, sweets and produce Trader Joe’s was my holy grail for shopping. I think my fever for the place is what made me an Angelino quickly.
When I returned to NYC in 2000 for more important reasons than food I was sad to be without my main man Joe. I would return to LA occasionally and before getting back on the plane to the east coast I would stop in and get a whole carry-on’s worth of non perishable goodies.
So when the first Trader Joe’s opened up in NYC on 14th street I didn’t mind standing on the line to get in just so I could get some dumplings and tamales and taquitos and..and…and…
Today there are 3 locations in Manhattan. While is it no longer my primary shopping destination, it has become my go to for nuts and their signature snacks and for some tasty frozen fare. So, as a significant part of “My Life In Food” I will review some of the Trader Joe’s food products I eat and love. I will include some of the nutrition information since TJ’s doesn’t do the best job online with this.
Let’s start with a few new items:
Indian Fare, Punjab Choley – chickpeas, tomatoes, onions and ginger in a spicy aromatic sauce.
2 servings, 210 cal, 8g fat, 610mg sodium, 7g protein
I thought it was good, spicy and satisfying. But between this one and frozen channa masala I would take the latter. Seemed like there was more with more flavor.
Straight forward and warms nicely and quickly with an appropriate amount of garlic.
I put the above two together with some broccoli sautéed in garlic, crushed red pepper and olive oil for an awesome and quick vegetarian dinner.
Tom Yam Soup with spinach mushroom wontons.
1 serving, 240 cal, 11g fat, 1,000mg sodium, 5g protein
In order to prepare this soup you place the wontons in the bowl, then the frozen sheet of soup followed by the lemongrass and chilies flavor pack. While I always love these flavors together I didn’t think there was enough of that spicy coconut broth and what was there was hampered by the woody pieces of lemongrass much like seaweed at the shore of bay is annoying when all you want to do is swim. Also that sodium is through the roof! Needs a little tweaking.
2.5 servings, 150 cal, 950mg sodium, 4g protein
These were a little bit of a disappointment. Mind you I ate them all! They were a little dry and doughy. I imagine if you refried them they would have been better, but just warming them in the toaster oven, as most would do, didn’t make them sing. The tangy sweet sauce didn’t help much either.
I’ve many more Trader Joe’s products to review so stay tuned!
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