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Trader Joe's Thai Style Citrus Chicken Salad

Little known fact: my dream job is to be a buyer for Trader Joe's. Why? The asian food. And now also because of this salad. Read on y'all. 

A few days ago, I was feeling smugly proud of myself for shopping according to my grocery list when I realized that I had not picked up a new item to review for the blog in weeks. Gasp. Fortunately, my dear friend KK told me to try this salad. It took me a while to find it. There was only one box left, and it was hidden among the bruschetta dips. It looked sad and lonely, so I decided to take it home with me. Some people do that with animals. I do that with food. 

Not bad. Looks pretty healthy. Even with the lighting, you can tell that cabbage is looking kinda sad. But I was determined to make this sad salad look great! Because up until now, I'm thinking "you can't judge a book by its cover" against my better judgment, but we'll get to that.

Why is it so monochrome? 

Look how much better it is on a white plate. Potential, no? Around this time, I get a text from KK saying, "dude it was so gross." *facepalm* Now you tell me. But there's no turning back now. I didn't come this far to put the salad back into the box. I mean, how bad could it be? 

I could not go on. This is where I stopped. I could not finish this. This is by far THE WORST TJ's item I have ever tried. I can't even pretend that I have anything nice to say about it! I have to overuse exclamation points here to emphasize how terrible this salad was! In the past I have sung praises about fish sauce in a south asian-inspired salad dressing, but it definitely didn't work here! At all! Everything is wrong about this salad! Just like everything about a certain presidential candidate! How is this product still on the shelves?! How is that dude winning the GOP?!*

(*Not making any political statements here. I'm just saying that one bite of this salad made me think of a certain presidential candidate. That's all.)

Let's count the sins, shall we?
  • Chicken - nothing special. Sadly probably the best tasting thing in the whole salad. 
  • Limp, vegetable-looking cabbage. I've never been a fan of cabbage-based salads. Because cabbage is heftier and more bitter compared to a normal lettuce, the flavors have to be that much better to compensate. Plus, they used napa cabbage. WHY. WHO EATS RAW NAPA CABBAGE. REALLY. 
  • Daikon radish - Again. Who thought it was a good idea to put this RAW into a salad?? 
  • Green papaya - I honestly have no idea what this tasted like because I was distracted by the general grossness of the rest of the salad.
  • The dressing - When you look at the ingredients, it doesn't sound like it would be bad. Lime, oil, fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, some jalapeño, and garlic. But WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED HERE. It was sour and fermented, not in a good way like kimchi or even stinky tofu (debatable I know), in a terrible way - like GARBAGE. 
The whole ordeal made me wonder - what went wrong first? Was it the chicken or the egg? Was it the terrible choice of vegetable? Or was it the good idea-of-a-dressing-gone-terribly bad? Methinks the dressing made it worse, but the salad was already rather unappetizing without it.

Was it food poisoning? Could I have picked up a bad salad? No. I picked this up four days before the expiration date. I went about my business as usual without any food poisoning symptoms. 

Which led me back to my original question. Could a TJ's product really be that bad? The answer? A RESOUNDING YES. Had I had the time and shamelessness that day, I would have put the remaining salad back into its original container, driven back to the store, and asked for a refund for my half-eaten salad. Y'all better believe I'm writing to corporate begging requesting them to please discontinue this salad. 

I thought TJ's sushi was bad. This is far far worse. 

If they don't discontinue this, I think this would be the next appropriate course of action

TL;DR: Trader Joe's Thai Style Citrus Chicken Salad. Hide yo kids. Hide yo wife. From this bitter stank of a salad. 0 out of 10. 


  1. Haha! That does sound terrifyingly bad...!
    I've been a fan of the super spinach salad for a long time, and the one called mighty bite is great.
    I refuse to schlep half eaten or bad food around with me- so when i last got a clunker at trader joe's (stay away from the indian simmer sauce) i just took a photo of the item and returned with my receipt, showed the photo on my phone, and they gave me back my money

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Have you tried the Pasadena Salad? It looks boring and monochromatic but it's one of my favorites!

    1. I have not. I will have to keep an eye out to try it. Thanks for the tip!


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