Long time no post, dear reader. I took a break, went to Asia, returned, and immediately went back to work. Of course, I hit up TJ's the next day to stock my fridge except it had momentarily lost some of its allure for me. I'm still thinking about the deliciously sweet mango that you can get at a 7-Eleven in Taiwan ("...why would I ever go to a 7-Eleven?" one coworker asked), the ridiculously cheap bubble tea, and other yummy goodies that TJ's just doesn't have. Still readjusting. Which is how I landed on this salad. Hungry, needing something quick and healthy, and something that won't make me miss Asia too much. Salad. Mexicali Inspired Salad.
I've noticed that word "inspired" more and more on TJ's products. How smart and PC. But post-Asia trip, I don't mind because people don't really eat these types of salads there. A couple of the salads I saw/had were little more than discarded burger toppings with a little packet of mayo-dressing.
If the fat/sodium content is alarming to you, use less dressing.
After a few weeks without a substantial salad, I must say that I quite liked this. It hit the spot, especially since I was tired, busy trying to get ready for work, and craving something vegetable-y. The most important things to me about a salad are the harmony of different flavors and textural variety. There was a bit too much cabbage for my liking, but it worked texturally with the core, romaine, bell peppers, and spring greens. The chicken was nicely seasoned with the chili but a bit salty for my taste. I normally don't love pumpkin seeds, but they were much appreciated for the crunch here. The dressing was creamy and not at all spicy. If you hate cilantro, avoid this salad, but I enjoyed the lift that it provided. My only question - what's up with the sundried tomato and parmesan? The parmesan was fine (but I would have picked a different cheese...something more TexMex), but the sundried tomato really didn't fit well with the other flavors probably because it is a bit more Italian/Mediterranean-esque than "Mexicali." It would have been nice to have cherry tomatoes and avocado instead, but whatever. $4.49 for a pre-packaged salad ain't bad. Not my favorite TJ's salad ever but solid, not too heavy, and actually quite filling for me.
TL;DR: Trader Jose's Mexicali Inspired Salad with Chili Seasoned Chicken. TexMex, ambiguously Californian maybe, and healthy enough without being too granola crunchy. 7 out of 10. Mantou Joe Repurchase? In a desperate pinch, maybe.