Spoiler alert: Food from a local restaurant will always be better than food from Trader Joe’s. That being said, sometimes you don’t have the funds to eat out and need a delicious, filling meal for a couple of bucks. In this series, we’ll find out if Trader Joe’s rendition of a dish will get the job done or if it will just make you miss the real deal even more.
This week we’re trying the new Trader Joe’s frozen pad thai next to the pad thai from a local Thai restaurant in our neighborhood. When it comes to Trader Joe’s frozen food, they typically do noodles pretty well. Is the Trader Joe’s Vegetable Pad Thai worth picking up the next time you’re at TJ’s? Let’s find out!
Takeout: Tofu & Vegetable Pad Thai ($15.99 + tax & tip)
The moment you open the container, you can an aroma that is hard to replicate. Like many Thai dishes, pad thai touches all the taste buds on your tongue. It’s salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. The egg is fluffy. There’s a strong (but not too strong) umami flavor and saltiness from the fish sauce. This pad thai had two types of tofu: big chunks of soft tofu and small cubes of firm pressed tofu. There were tons of scallions and absolutely no bean sprouts. That’s because I don’t like bean sprouts and ordered it without them. As always, that’s the wonderful thing about takeout. You can customize it however you please! Additionally, I got two large meals out of one order.
The downside: Takeout is more expensive and you aren’t always in the financial place to spend $20 on one meal. Plus, I had to put pants on and leave my house to pick it up.
Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe’s Vegetable Pad Thai ($3.49 for 10.5 oz)
This is the first TJ’s vs. Takeout I’ve done in which the product from Trader Joe’s absolutely sucks. I cannot believe they are calling this pad thai. This is a bean sprout salad. The container was literally 50% bean sprouts. I know I don’t like bean sprouts, but c’mon. Even if you love bean sprouts, pad thai should not have an equal ratio of bean sprouts to noodles! It made the whole dish very wet. Not saucy—wet. I would absolutely not buy this again. You did pad thai dirty, Trader Joe’s!
This one is obvious. Takeout is the winner. I’m not sure if I just got some kind of fluke box of Trader Joe’s Vegetable Pad Thai or if it is genuinely always this bad. Either way, I’m unimpressed. Do not buy this.