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Nov 1, 2007 10:54 AM

FH Trader Joe's top ten hits? And will Amish survive?

What's your favorites? Let's share...friendly staff and clean store in queens, am I dreaming or what??? I've seen one or the other, but it's hard to find both....anyway really glad to have them so nearby to me. I feel bad for Amish though, not sure if they can survive, and they're so nice there. Not sure if anyone realizes but the salad bar at Amish is half off after 7pm and they have really good calamari salad there, and some other good fresh things...

Well, I've been twice so far, and this is what I liked:
-raw pistachios--much cheaper than elsewhere-but not as good as CARMEL on 108th st
--golden raisins
-bananas--great price
-frozen large cleaned uncooked shrimp--good price and good quality
-salmon with skin on in the fridge section
-free range chicken breasts (but at $7 a lb, they are not a bargain--bell and evans are at that price or less at Iavorone or Metro Meats)--but it's convenient if you need in a hurry
-spicy tortilla chips at $2 a pkg, for large, can't beat that
-frozen onion soup--
-vanilla yogurt milk (alot cheaper than silk)
-fage greek yogurt
-portebello mushrooms--good price
-date coconut rolls
-raw cashews--excellent quality and good price
-trek mix--cranberry almonds cashews--good but high in fat and calories
-spinach ravioli refrig section
-mushroom ravioli refrig section
-red pepper and artichoke tapenade
-olive tapenade
-cocktail sauce
-raspberry dressing
-soy ginger vinagrette dressing
-dr,.prager's veg burgers--good price but limited selection--wish they had the spinach pancakes as well
-price on flowers is good
-organic string cheese
-satay noodles in green box
-frozen brown rice--surprisingly crunchy and good

this is what I didn't like:
-frozen lasagna--eh tasted frozen
-frozen potato and cheese pirogi--heavy, glumpy --did the boil and then fry method with onions and butter
-produce overall looks pretty poor--you need to get there just when they put it out
-chocolate covered ginger--tasted medicinal
-goat cheese--not the best quality
-mushroom risotto (frozen)--liquid doesn't absorb well, and not any better than the boxed versions available elsewhere--and the portion isn't that large either.
-sushi looked scary--maybe okay if you're in a pinch for lunch
-same for the salads--good price but only if you work in the area and need a quick cheap lunch

and this is what I'm wondering about if it's any good before I buy?
-Wild frozen scallops
-frozen crabcakes

I make my own, so didn't get:
hummus--but the selection looks good

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  1. Yesterday was my 1st real experience shopping @ TJ. Not bad, though def. not worth the hype. I work 2 miles from the Queens location and I 'm happy to have it as an option. It's one of those places that has it's quirks and you've got to be able to live w/the limited fruit 'n veggie selection, no beer etc. Hell, even w/the limited selection and private label heaven or hell, it's way better than Gristedes/Red Apple crapola market in my hood (UWS). This will make it even more fun when the jerk who owns the hellish store that is Gristedes runs for mayor. More choice, more selction makes for a healthy democratic movement.

    1. I've been getting nut butters from TJ's since the 80's on the West Coast. They don't have the variety they once had (no more Hazelnut, for one thing) but the ones they do have are good and less oily than some of the competitors'. I particularly like the Cashew-Macadamia nut blend..

      1. a couple more additions I forgot:
        -chicken sausage spicy precooked, but not nearly as good as uncooked chicken sausage from whole foods--but good in a hurry

        Didn't like:
        -split pea soup with lemon and ? something I can't had whole peas in it which I can't stand, and it was just kind of weird tasting--

        Heard that other items were good:
        -precooked chicken strips frozen

        7 Replies
        1. re: janie

          Selection is definitely not as plush & fresh as the Union Square branch but I still appreciate TJ's coming to Rego Park.

          Organic Milk - very good price
          Hummus - love the TJ garlic hummus but not so much the regular (too sour)
          Cereal - nice variety
          Organic broth

          Produce - not that fresh looking (at least not on a Tues eve)
          Bread - again, didn't seem that fresh...every loaf I touched felt a bit hard/stale

          Not at this location:
          Sesame flatbread - awesome with the garlic hummus but couldn't find any

          1. re: moymoy

            I was also one of the excited ones, maybe that was the problem for most of us. We waited so long, with such anticipation, our expectations climbing with increasing speed and vigor.. and then the store. For the majority of my shopping I still prefer Stop & Shop on Union Tpke. The selection is just larger and the prices aren’t bad, a huge variety of meat and apples.

            I am terrible with prices, I hardly know what's a good bargain, I just buy what I like and get reprimanded by my husband later. I once bought a pomegranate champagne vinegar in a delicate, tiny glass bottle (1.7 oz) and then looked at the receipt, it was $11 and tasted just like wine vinegar. But I do know one thing, Associated on Metro is the most expensive supermarket, with hardly any deals and terrible meat and fish! I advise against buying those two items, it's almost never fresh. Keyfood is slightly better with some deals and decent meat, S& S is still the best. But I digress...

            TJ was fun, creative and definitely “gourmet”. I was interested in their flourless chocolate cake, I liked the "unusual foods" element of TJ. Out of curiosity I bought dried Dragon Fruit (looks like thin slices of beets), cashews and peanuts with chili sees and pineapple ( I like). The bruschetta is excellent and I am wild about their selection of nuts.

            I will still like to see a bigger variety of bulk tea, which is hard to find. More produce selections and more Spanish olive oil. Oh, their cheeses are not bad either, I bought an Italian Mountain Cheese very flavorful and great texture.

            All in all, not bad, but not what I expected either. Stop and Shop still rules, along with a Korean deli across from Associated for their herbs, fresh kirbys and most vegetables.

            1. re: Inthemood

              Sorry that TJ's was not what you thought, but glad that you like it for what it is. I think you have pretty much captured the essence of TJ's. TJ's does not pretend to be the kind of store where you can shop for everything you need, all the time. Could some people pull that off, yeah, I'm sure they could. The bottom line with TJ's is that it has a funky, eclectic selection and some products you don't see around much or that you don't seem elsewhere at all. And while a lot of their things are quite well-priced, it's not a "bargain" operation either.

              As far as "supermarkets," I am in the part of Forest Hills near Queens Boulevard and the supermarkets around here are just not that great, especially if you are spoiled by the depth and breadth of the inventory of more suburban markets. They just renovated a Key Food on Queens Boulevard, but it is certainly no bargain. Trade Fair will pass for real basics and admittedly they have some interesting Middle Eastern stuff you don't see everywhere, but sometimes I feel like killing myself by the time I get through the checkout line. C-Town on Austin is just plain scary/grungy. If I want a "real" supermarket, perhaps when doing holiday cooking, I make a run up to College Point and do a Waldbaums-Target-BJ's run, or, I just wait until I am visiting my mother on Long Island over the weekend and shop out there.

              If you want a place that has consistently pretty good/good produce and organic and "gourmet" things, try Natural on Austin Street. The everyday produce is competative with the supermarkets in the neighborhood, but the quality is much better. They also have some more unusual produce, but that stuff is no bargain. Be warned, parking is a disaster, and don't overrun your time on the parking meters, or you will be ticketed...

              1. re: Shayna Madel

                Oh, I have always loved Natural! Their flowers are terrific, almost identical quality to florist shops only with more decent prices. Roses are the same everywhere, after a few days they don't mature and bloom, instead the retire prematurely.

                You're absolutely correct, TJ is definitely a side choice, but definitely a good one. You should really try Stop & Shop on Union Tpke, they are not grimey like most supermarkets, have a huge selection and staff is very friendly. They have williamsburg pickles, and fage yogurt, as well as tons of varios vinegars, pastas, rice and pasta sauce (Rao's, Patsy's, Cento). Anyway it's worth a try.

                1. re: Inthemood

                  I have been to Stop & Shop and don't really have anything against it, but it's sorta not in the direction of where I usually go to shop and run errands. And that parking lot with those idiot pillars! I live on the opposite side of Queens Blvd and guess I just usually head north and east to do my thing. I may develop a new "shopping loop," what with TJ, BJs and S & S all on that side of the blvd, just for a change of pace...Natural has a fair variety of vinegars, oils, dressings, pastas and sauces and considering that some of these things are specialty items, the prices are competitive.

                  1. re: Shayna Madel

                    Oh, I know exactly what you mean about pillars! I am always afraid to scrape the side of my car.

                    This is against the teachings of my mother, but I buy based on my wants and needs and the quality as opposed to the deals and practicality. I guess you can guess who is more financially savvy.

                    I would visit Natural more often, but it's hell finding parking around there. I hate parking on Austin, don't mind a bit of a walk but not all the way back to Metropolitan Ave. If I could just figure out when would be the best time to visit it and what time of the day would I be able to find parking without feeling like I am on a carousel.

                    I want to find Bonito flakes, I wonder if they carry them. Linda's Organic has a terrific selection as well. They want to expand but have no space. Perhaps one day they'll move and stretch out the little shop.

              2. re: Inthemood

                I agree, I prefer Stop & Shop to all other places in the Forest Hills/Rego Park area. Fruits, veggies & meats are always fresh and it's one stop shopping.
                I understand that TJ's is not a traditional supermarket but there isn't anything compelling enough at TJ's for me to go regularly.

                I supplement my grocery shopping by visiting the Asian supermarkets in Flushing as well. Country Markets (formerly C-Town) on Yellowstone Blvd ain't bad.

          2. Janie, excellent list as usual! Wanted to try the artichoke spread, next time. Was their a large mushroom variety or not so much?

            By the way, two suggestions:

            1)Best olive oils, I find, are not from Italy (at least not the common imported ones) but from Spain. Associated has a big plastic bottle of an amature looking extra virgin olive oil from Espana, it's so fragrant, just fantastic! $9.99 and totally worth it, if you like your olive oil tasting a little fruity and herbal and olivy.

            1) Fresh sushi for takeout is sold at the Fish Market on Lefferts near Denny's pizza. Simple, rolls and slabs of fish, but very very fresh.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Inthemood

              they had portobello mushroom caps, baby brown mushrooms (cremini), some shitake--you have do dig a bit to find the best looking ones..also had the larger stuffing size mushrooms--nothing too fancy or exotic if that's what you're after..
              prices were fair..

              Haven't had a chance to get over to the Farmer's market at Atlas because I work on Saturdays..wish they had it on sundays as well..

              Olive oil sounds good, will check it out...I bought some very good Spanish olive oil at Amish on sale as well....

              I get sushi from Metro Sushi on Metro in Kew Gardens, but I shop for my fish at the fish market on Lefferts that you refer to---although I haven't been there lately, because I'm following a fairly vegan diet with a bit of protein weekly..and I've been having the trader joe shrimp which is easy to deal with...but I like their salmon, squid, shrimp, at the fish market, and their tilapia..unfortunately they don't sell dry scallops---

              1. re: Inthemood

                Update on Trader Joe's hits--and some discontinued items--was told they are no longer selling the frozen uncooked cleaned shrimp in large that was about $8.95 a bag---I really like the quality of these, and had bought many since they opened...they said they are looking for different vendors but it will be a long while before they will have uncooked frozen shrimp again, boohoo.

                TRADER JOE HITS:
                -the raw frozen shrimp but now it's no longer stocked as of last week!!!!
                -orange cranberry pieces
                -raw cashews
                -vanilla soymilk
                -fage yogurt
                -Trader Joes cinnamon cheerios cereal
                -fig bars trader joes
                -rosemary almonds (good but very salty!!)
                -Trader Joes spanish organic olive oil
                -wasabi mayo
                -calamata olive tapenade
                -roasted pepper artichoke tapenade
                -italian wedding soup (refrigerater section)
                -salmon filets refrig section--when they put them out and they're fresh
                -non sorbate prunes
                -coconut sorbet
                -spicy tortilla chips (taste just like the original taco flavored Doritos, think circa 1976!)
                and no MSG!
                -rosemary focaccio
                -grape tomatoes
                -organic bananas
                -trader joes tongol tuna
                -frozen brown rice
                -soy meatballs (my 2 year old likes them, and he hates everything)
                ---golden raisins
                -date coconut rolls
                -trek mix--cranberry almonds cashews--good but high in fat and calories
                -spinach ravioli refrig section
                -mushroom ravioli refrig section
                -cocktail sauce
                -raspberry dressing (it's exactly like Annie's)
                -soy ginger vinagrette dressing
                -price on flowers is good
                -organic string cheese
                -dubliner cheese
                -trader joes grapefruit juice
                -trader joes cocoa--not bad--but not great
                -dripless candles
                -haricot vert frozen-------excellent, have made many salads with them

                tried lots of other things, but they're on my out list...........and their produce just generally sucks. I cannot buy produce wrapped in plastic, and their Mexican organic avocados are completely brown inside, yuk.

                1. re: janie

                  Agree with your list except a few things, and I haven't tried many that you've mentioned.
                  -Cocktail sauce was excellent, nice and spicy.
                  -Flowers often look wilted so I am not sure about the bargain.
                  -Trek mix is excellent, except when it's stale.
                  -Their frozen ginger carrots are absolutely revolting. The package includes hershey kisses shaped concoction made out of processed butter, some herbs and ginger, the whole thing looks scientific and smells scary.
                  -Soy yogurt is interesting.
                  -soy milk is good and so are the eggs
                  -pizzas are decent
                  -their chocolate chip and macadamia cookies are great and addictive
                  -Their selection of cheese and the prices is the best thing in the entire store! Their Italian Mountain, Iberico and Basque cheeses are exceptional. Haven't tried their feta or the beer cheese.
                  - Tofu is great and so are the packaged French beets, already pre-peeled, I use them in my greens and goat salad. I was skeptical but they taste great.

              2. I too had been one of those eagerly anticipating TJ's and I'm really glad they are so close. I went last Saturday and it was crowded but frankly it was more people going through the aisles and browsing. At the registers, there was maybe 1-2 people at each one actually buying things so it was easy to check out.

                I like that a few brands I normally buy - Fage, Barbara's, Kashi, Nature's Path - are cheaper there. And I love their selection of nuts - their half salt roasted peanuts are terrific and next time I go I want to get their marcona almonds. I bought a jar of their masala simmering sauce and made an easy version of chana masala at home which was really good. The capers are great. And I am a big fan of their pizzas. I also recently developed a wasabi pea addiction and theirs are very good.

                I haven't had good luck with that mushroom risotto either. I'd rather spend the time to make it myself.

                To add to the discussion above re: FH area grocery stores - my boyfriend and I used to go to Stop & Shop for the most part and then fill in with Amish Market, the Natural and Whole Foods. Then we realized our grocery bill was about $200 a week. This is for 2 people. We decided that WF had all the things we ever needed (aside from household stuff which we usually get at Target) and so we do one big trip each week, supplemented by a weekly visit to the tiny but terrific farmer's market at Atlas Park. Our bill is down to about $125. We still have plenty of food each week and don't skimp but it turned out going to a bunch of different places, we just ended up buying more because we were there. And frankly shopping at WF just feels a lot nicer.