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May 24, 2009 04:18 PM

trader joe's "fresh summer rolls" -- don't go there!

zip. zero. zilch. nada.

that is the description of the flavors of trader joe's new product, "fresh summer rolls."

the shrimp, the cellophane noodles, the cilantro (how can cilantro not have any flavor?!) and the rice wrapper were all one big package (actually two packages) of dry, flavorless BLAH. even the texture of the shrimp and noodles was plastic-y. plus, the wrapper was hard on the side against the package.

the supplied dipping sauce was a generic, sickly sweet "chili-garlic" syrupy business.

do not go there. trust me.

<dang it! i *knew* i should've just made some myself!>

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  1. jeez!
    you can get good-enough premade ones at the Viet place next to Magruders on Graham Rd, or probably any other NoVA bahn mi shop.

    Wonder if the summer rolls are better in California TJs -- they get that type of stuff made locally, right?

    I find Trader Joe's machine sushi-type items to be an okay cheap lunch when it's the afternoon and you're starving and resisting other fast food items.
    : )

    17 Replies
    1. re: pitu

      the thing is, pitu, i've had rice wrappers ready to make up for a while. and cellophane noodles. all i need is some good gulf shrimp, and fresh cilantro.

      but, i was just lazy, and even stood there debating whether to get them. i should've listened to my gut -- especially since they were five bucks for two of them! (i'm sure those two sad shrimp really caused the price to skyrocket).

      i did also get one of their little sushi "platters" because i was in a fish-y mood. i haven't tried that yet. <the mahi mahi on the demo bar was really "fishy" though -- and not in a good way -- even with the fresh pineapple to save the day>

      1. re: alkapal

        alkapal, do you know that little fish store behind a strip of shops near the Lee Hwy takeout outlet of Lebanese Taverna? Just a few blocks after Gallows and Lee intersect if you're headed toward the District, it's on a road that branches off to the right before Lee/Old Dominion intersects Lorcum Lane - maybe Woodrow, maybe N.20th St.

        Get some shrimp!
        They get nice trout there too.
        [from the Harris Teeter discussion I remember that you live near my mom in NoVA]
        : )

        1. re: pitu

          yes i know that place. it's called america seafood, i believe (er...maybe not) <yep: >. but, it's only a couple of miles from my house.

          do they still sell grouper subs? i haven't been there in a while.

          1. re: alkapal

            Alka, there are starving people in Canada that would kill for a Trader Joe's. Just remember that the next time you pick up a clunker. ;)

            1. re: Wahooty

              poor wahooty. ;-((. i'll keep that in mind, and wish fervently for trader joe's to expand northward (and to florida, where there are no trader joe's either -- at least in sw florida).

              1. re: alkapal

                Oh, you have no idea. I have recommended via their website that they open a location in Toronto since I moved up here. It would go over like GANGBUSTERS downtown. I think the problem is that they couldn't sell any alcohol up here. <pout>

                1. re: Wahooty

                  in virginia, they can only sell beer and wine, because the state has the monopoly on booze.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Yeah, I know (originally from VA - holla!). But here there is a provincial monopoly on ALL alcohol. For wine or hard liquor, you have to go to the equivalent of an ABC store or a few specialized wine shops. There are also Beer Stores, but they are also a monopoly, run by some of the major brewers. It severely limits what you can buy here, and runs the prices up to a truly ludicrous extent compared to any state monopoly I've ever seen south of the border. TJ's would not be allowed to sell any alcohol here, so a significant portion of the TJ's draw is diminished, and the incentive to start up an operation up north is small as a result.

                    Which is a shame, because I know there are locals who go to great lengths to procure TJ's products. I can't blame them for not bothering to open up here because while they would make money, they can probably make more in a location in the States where there is built-in demand and (generally) the ability to sell beer and wine.

                    1. re: Wahooty

                      They can't sell beer or wine in their Maryland stores either.

                      1. re: OneSonTwoCats

                        Thus my inclusion of the parenthetical "generally". But why jump through all the hoops of importing all of your non-alcoholic products into Canada (and paying the accompanying tariffs) when you could open the exact same store in Maryland without all of that, where the demand is better quantified? Like I said, I don't blame them - it makes perfectly good business sense to not expand outside the country. But I would still like to see, for my own very selfish reasons, a Trader Joe's somewhere in the Toronto area. As would a lot of people who probably don't even know it yet. {sigh}

                        Ack...apologies for the thread-jack...

                        1. re: Wahooty

                          Wahooty, it's not completely impossible, unless they don't want to go International. In NYC, they have a store, and a wine store up the block. In Brooklyn & Queens, no wine store (due to dodgy NY ordinances)
                          Although all the stores (grocery stores) sell beer here. These newish urban stores do HUGE grocery volume compared to their other stores, so tjs *could* get interested in a place like Toronto.

                          1. re: pitu

                            That's what I keep hoping. However, I won't be holding my breath. :)

                      2. re: Wahooty

                        I am one of the Torontonians you mention that will "go to great lengths to procure TJ's products!" A few months ago, I went to NY and brought an empty suitcase (which was waaaay bigger than the duffle bag I brought for my clothing, etc.) and filled up the entire case full of EVERYTHING, including multiples of dried fruit, etc.

                        Unfortunately, I am all done my stash now :-(

                        1. re: pinkprimp

                          Didn't you get stuck with overweight baggage charges at the airport?
                          : )

                    2. re: Wahooty

                      Same issue in Connecticut (can't sell alcohol)--thus we have exactly TWO TJ's--one about 45 minutes from me and one 30 minutes. Today I went to the farther location, packed a cooler and procured my frozen puff pastry, goaty yogurt, lemon curd, tapenade and some other goodies. I asked on the way out if they were planning to expand in CT and the guy told us TJ's has some sort of formula based on population density (blah, blah, blah) but then said basically the same thing you did about the alcohol. What I wouldn't give for a REAL TJ's as they have 'em in California.

                2. re: alkapal

                  That's the one! I've never been to the restaurant part, although my mom says it's good. I'm always enlisted to cook, often trout from there. Must be the time of year I go, although I couldn't even tell you when that is....
                  : )

          2. I couldn't imagine getting pre-made goi-cuon. It's simply not right. Get the rice paper, drizzle cold water over it, boil some shrimp and glass noodles, slice up some rehydrated shitakes, julienne some carrots, and you're in business. The 15 minutes prep time is shorter than the drive to TJ's!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Caralien

              as i said upthread, caralien, i have most of the ingredients on hand, but was just too lazy to make it myself -- plus, i was hungry <big no no, i know>. and, we didn't make a special trip -- we were already at tj's (but i get your point).

              but don't you rehydrate the rice paper by a quick dip in room temp water? tell me why you use the cold water. i'm curious. also, a vietnamese lady told me they always would add julienned jicama. good idea, huh? i'll use my julienne shredder/peeler gadget.
              ps, you get goi-cuon "pre-made" when you get it at a restaurant, right? or do you order it "deconstructed" ? <i'm jes' havin' a little fun with ya this mornin' ;-).>

              1. re: alkapal

                My mother always used cold water, best if it's changed regularly (warm water can get the paper to stick to itself too fast; which results in a gummy paste).

                I haven't had it with jicama; daikon, yes, but that's me.

                In restaurants, we have them make it. I wouldn't even know how to ask for it in parts!


                1. re: Caralien

                  gummy! i got it, and that makes sense. thanks.