Saturday, April 30, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

What you should buy and pass on at Trader Joe's this month

Trader Joe's pinches Whole Foods on price

Trader Joe's ten best French finds

Trader Joe's wraps often save the day

Trader Joe's riced cauliflower versus homemade

11 underrated Trader Joe's must-haves

Best tweets of the week:





And finally, here's this week's cute cat in (or at least next to) a Trader Joe's grocery bag--PLUS a bonus Vine video of a cute cat enjoying her Trader Joe's cat treat.

Trader Joe's Beef Barley Soup With Veggies

I liked this. It has little enough beef that I don't feel too guilty about eating it. It's a little on the bland side, but not horribly so.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably once or twice a year.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Kosher Sandwich Pickles

Excellent. Good flavor. Good crunch. In order to use them on a burger, you have to cut them in half, making their use slightly more inconvenient than the "hamburger chip" style of pickles, which Trader Joe's doesn't seem to carry. But that's a pretty trivial gripe.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Trader Joe's Arugula Pizza

For frozen pizza, this is pretty good. The crust is crispy, flavorful sauce, nice balance of toppings. I have no complaints. Nina and I tried it with half of it sprinkled with a non-TJ's spicy fake ground beef, which made it even better.

Will I buy it again? 

TJ's has lots of frozen pizzas that I would like to try, but yes, I think that sooner or later I'll get back to this one.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trader Joe's Chicken Breast Parmigiana With Marinara Sauce

I love a good chicken Parmigiana. This is not good chicken Parmigiana. The taste is as lifeless as can be.

Worse, the proportions are all wrong. The slabs of chicken breast are enormous. Some might see this as an advantage. I do not. Even on the fairly rare occasions that I eat some sort of meat these days, it doesn't take much to satisfy me. These cuts are both big across and way too thick. That means that inevitably the sauce and cheese is going to be demoted to second fiddle, rather than playing harmoniously together.

The photo shows nice, thin cuts of chicken generously coated in breading, sauce, and cheese. That's how it should be. The reality inside the package is nothing like that. The chicken is over an inch thick, the breading essentially AWOL, and the parsimonious amounts of sauce and cheese slide off the sides as soon as you heat the thing up.

Big fail, Trader Joe's.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Cous Cous

The first time I ever had couscous was at Nina's house. I'm not sure exactly how I had missed it all my life, but I had. I didn't even know what it was. Now I do: it's just the same semolina wheat that is used for most pasta, but formulated into granules. Its large ratio of surface area to volume means that it absorbs water fast and therefore takes less time to prepare than pasta. It also seems to be more foolproof--nearly impossible to overcook. 

I like it. I've already devised my own recipe: couscous topped with Soy Chorizo. Brilliant, eh? Super easy and delicious. I'm a culinary genius. 

Trader Joe's is the only couscous I've had, so I can't compare it with any others. My hunch is that I wouldn't notice much difference between this and what's sold in other grocery stores. 

However, I might notice a difference in packaging. The TJ's box is a shambles and a disgrace. It doesn't open so much as fall apart: 

That was the box at Nina's. When I bought my own, the result was pretty much the same. The side of the box has one of those perforated holes that you're supposed to punch out to pour, but like all such devices, it utterly fails to work as promised. It resists being punched out, then yields with jagged, almost random results--and can't be re-sealed. Useless. C'mon, Trader Joe's. You can do packaging better than this.

Will I buy it again? 

I've become a couscous fan, so yes I will--in spite of the crappy box.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Trader Joe's Key Lime Pie

Good stuff. No cooking required, just defrost in the refrigerator. Good graham cracker crust. Filling is appropriately rich, limey, and tart. My only complaint is that it's unusually small for a pie.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

Not bad, Trader Joe, although I find the graham cracker crust overly sweet and grainy—I wish this came with the fabulous crust on the raspberry tarte of Top Ten fame. 

This pie makes an excellent vehicle for my Port-Berry sauce, which sets off the tartness of the lime perfectly. So good.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Trader Joe's Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips

There's only one question to be answered about these chips: Are they as good as Nacho Cheese Doritos?

Sadly, no. They're not bad, but not as good. The Trader Joe's Blandification Committee got hold of some Nacho Cheese Doritos, and said, "We need something like this--but with a lot less flavor, obviously." Then they commissioned what you see here.

They're OK. I can munch on them happily--until my mind wanders to Nacho Cheese Doritos, which instantly makes me wish I were eating them instead.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. It's not like the gold standard for this genre is hard to find.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

Best frozen entrees at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's favorites for April

15 kid-friendly Trader Joe's riced cauliflower recipes

BuzzFeed tests Trader Joe's skin-care products

Trader Joe's snacks you must buy, according to TJ's employees

Trader Joe's employee claims he was fired for complaining about sex toy gift at Christmas party

14 beauty gems from Trader Joe's

Best products at Trader Joe's

The 5 best Trader Joe's products you've never heard of (Gripe: *I've* heard of them!)

"Let's Talk TJ's" podcast #22

Trader Joe's cookies a big hit in a Peruvian village

Best tweets of the week:




And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag. This cat has really big ears.

Trader Joe's Asiago Cheese With Rosemary & Olive Oil

Maybe I've had Asiago cheese before, but if so, the memory didn't stick. But I find now that I like it, at least as prepared here, with rosemary and olive oil. The flavor is distinct and pronounced without being too strong. My only gripe is that it's a little too crumbly for clean slicing.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, it's going into the approved cheese rotation.

Nina's View

Rosemary is probably my favorite herb. Rosemary goes very well with a nice sharp cheese. This stuff is delicious. I will never buy it (because: cows), but I will eat it when it is put in front of me (because: NOM).

Friday, April 22, 2016

Trader Joe's CheeseSticks--Cheddar

Maybe the best part of this blog project is when I spot something that looks like it will probably be OK, but which I have no reason to think is great--and then it turns out to be a hidden gem.

Now, by "hidden," I don't mean that you have to accost a Trader Joe's employee and give him the secret handshake so that they fetch a box from the back room or something. I just mean that it's the kind of product that never shows up on all those endless "best TJ's products" that you see every week in my Saturday "Roundup" posts. It seems that everybody knows about cookie butter, soy chorizo, uncured bacon, etc. But it seems that nobody knows about CheeseSticks. I hope to help change that. Because they're wonderful. (There's some selfish motive here, too: The more people buy them, the less likely they are to be discontinued for poor sales performance, as TJ's is notorious for doing.)

The first surprising thing is how crunchy they are--not at all what you expect breadsticks to be. One might even go so far as to say that they're brittle, as they do sometimes shatter a little when bitten into.

But the most surprising thing is that you'll immediately notice a quality that is not disclosed, not even hinted at in the big-letter labeling on the package: heat. Do you see "hot" or "spicy" or "peppery" anywhere in the photo above? No, you do not. This was so unexpected that after the first bite, I went back to the cupboard to look at the box to see if I had missed something. I guess I had, but only if you go to the formal, federally mandated list of ingredients, where you will find "cayenne pepper."

I don't understand why TJ's doesn't trumpet this aspect of the product, because it is exactly that which transforms this from just OK to something really special. There's nothing not to like about bread and cheese, so I'd eat and enjoy these snacks even without the pepper. With it, however, they're so addictively delicious that I'll literally eat half a box in a sitting.

Welcome to the newest member of my Top Ten list (which, as regular readers well know, is not limited to a mere ten items)--maybe the first such list that this sadly overlooked product has ever been on.

Will I buy it again? 

I already have, and will many more times to come.


I've gone through three more boxes since writing the above, and still stand by every word. Love 'em.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Trader Joe's Vegetable Pakoras

I have had vegetable pakoras twice in my life--and both were this week. The first time was Sunday night, when Nina and I were out at one of our favorite Asheville restaurants, the excellent Kathmandu Cafe, which offers Indian and Nepali food. Nina selected an appetizer sampler plate for us, and it included several pakoras. I liked them.

TJ's announced the arrival of its newly reformulated, re-sourced vegetable pakoras on March 14. I kept asking about them at the Asheville store, and was told they weren't able to get them yet. But last week they finally showed up, so they became a main feature of Wednesday's dinner with Nina. They're cheap--just $1.99 for a box.

It's surely unfair to compare them to the fresh, handmade ones I had had three days before from a good restaurant. But what else can I do? The frozen ones suffer greatly in the comparison. The outer shell is tough rather than tender. The ingredients convey a generic veggieness, but it's hard to discern individual flavors as I could in the fresh ones.

Despite the unfortunate comparison, I thought they were decently good. The included tamarind sauce complemented them nicely. My biggest complaint was that I kept biting into something unpleasantly hard. Nina, having the same experience, grabbed the box to check the ingredients, hoping to identify the culprit. She guessed--rightly, I think--that it was the pomegranate seeds, which apparently do not soften with baking as much as I would have imagined.

Will I buy it again? 

Maybe. Not often, but it's a different kind of thing than I usually serve, so might make a nice change of pace occasionally.

Nina's View

The inclusion of pomegranate seeds in these pakoras is a deal-breaker for me. For one thing, they are even more annoying than raspberry seeds. For another, there is no discernible flavor contribution of pomegranate to compensate for the aggravation. 

Even without the seeds, however, these pakoras do not impress. The dough is excessively bready, the taste of the vegetables muddled.

Nah. Try again, TJ's, try again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Trader Joe's Lemon Meringue Tarte

This is a brand-new product at Trader Joe's; see the company's announcement of it here.

I was worried about this one. TJ's Raspberry Tarte may be the single finest item they carry. Nina and I have eaten, I think, five of them--and it is only because of monumental exercise of restraint that that number is not, like, fifty.

On the strength of that, we tried the Pear Tarte, and found it to be good, but not great. The raspberry is made great by the perfection of the fruit it contains, and in that aspect the pear was lacking. Hence my worry--what happens when there's no fruit (per se) at all?

The answer, it turns out, is more greatness. Seriously, TJ's hit it out of the park with this version. All three components were just about perfect: tender crust, amazingly tart lemon custard, and sweet, airy meringue. I loved every part of it, and every bite of it.

You guessed it: Trader Joe's Lemon Meringue Tarte is going on my Top Ten list.

For an only slightly less enthusiastic review, see what the good folks at "What's Good at Trader Joe's" blog had to say about it.

Will I buy it again? 

As often as my bathroom scale tells me I can, in spite of the relatively steep price of $5.49.

Nina's View

This is very, very good. It would be even better with an ever-so-slightly higher ratio of lemon curd to meringue. Still, if you bought this at a bakery, you could expect—easily—to pay $12-15 dollars for it, so it is a screamingly good buy. Furthermore, all it requires is defrosting, and once defrosted, you would never guess that it had ever been frozen.

I think this is likely to be my go-to cheatery choice for potlucks when I have no time to actually make something.

This goes into the Nina's Top Ten list as well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Trader Joe's Gourmet White Bread

I'm pretty sure this is a new Trader Joe's product, even though there has been no announcement on their web site. (Only a minority of new products get such treatment. I don't know why.) I had never noticed it on the shelves until a visit a couple of weeks ago, and I'm pretty sure it's one I would have noticed when looking for different types of bread to try. Furthermore, I find no reviews of it online, and Google Images pulls up no pictures of it. So I think it's new.

I don't find there to be anything "gourmet" about it. It feels too light and insubstantial. I didn't like it nearly as much as the Organic Country White Bread or the whitish Multigrain Country Bread.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, April 18, 2016

Trader Joe's Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Perfectly adequate wheat bread, but I could detect no essence of honey in it, which means that it's nothing special.

Will I buy it again? 


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Trader Joe's Pomegranate Limeade

Another big Trader Joe's juice jug, another disappointment.

This one was even more so than average. Except for the few ounces that Nina had one night, I drank this whole thing, and never once detected any pomegranate flavor--and my love for pomegranate is what made me decide to buy it in the first place. There was maybe some lime-ish flavor, but not prominent. Frankly, I don't know what I was tasting. It was just a weird, vaguely fruitish mish-mash, simultaneously too sweet and strangely harsh.

Will I buy it again? 

In the immortal words of George W. Bush, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me, you can't get fooled again."

Saturday, April 16, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

What it's like when a small family business's product gets picked up by Trader Joe's

Vine video of a cute dog in a Trader Joe's insulated bag

What chefs buy at Trader Joe's

Five healthy snacks from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's dethroned as America's favorite grocery store

Best tweets of the week:



And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookies

This may be the most famous Trader Joe's product that I had not yet sampled--except for the various forms of cookie butter, of course, which I'm deliberately avoiding for fear of clinical addiction.

I had read in several places that these are the same cookies that Delta Airlines serves on its flights, though without the logo. I believe it. They do indeed taste exactly the way I remember those snacks.

They're good. I can eat a lot of them in a sitting and not feel tired of them. They're about as simple as cookies can be: wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil, "sugar candy syrup," baking soda, salt, cinnamon, lecithin. I have no complaints.

But I'm never going to love them the way I do some other TJ's cookies.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably, once in a while, though I don't see it becoming a staple item for me.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Baton--Raspberry

Chocolate and raspberry make a fabulous combination--at least in theory. In practice, it doesn't always work out so well.

Here the chocolate is lovely. It's the raspberry component that's the problem. First, there's not enough of it. Second, it comes in the form of actual raspberry seeds embedded in the chocolate, which are not necessarily pleasant.

I realize that that complaint carries shades of Woody Allen in "Annie Hall":
There's an old joke - um... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."
My point, though, is that you can get great raspberry flavor--as much as you care to inject--without using raspberry seeds. If I want raspberry seeds stuck in my teeth, I'll eat some raspberries, not some chocolate.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

Seeds. In the teeth. GAH! No no no no no. Why would you emphasize the absolutely most annoying thing about raspberries if you didn't have to? I'll concede the dark chocolate is nice. But not at the price of having to deal with seeds wedged in the teeth.

What a terrible, terrible choice.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Trader Joe's Old Fashioned Blister Peanuts--Salted

Even after reading the description of what "blister" peanuts are, I don't really understand it. But the upshot is that the cooking process makes them crunchier than regular roasted peanuts. And it's true--they definitely are. But that's the only difference, as far as I can tell. The crunchiness is certainly pleasant and different, but I don't think the change in texture is worth the extra cost.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It's in the category of things I'm glad I've tried once, but I'll stick to TJ's regular peanuts.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Trader Joe's 99% Fat Free Bean & Rice Burrito

The Trader Joe's Blandification Committee got hold of this product and beat it like a red-headed stepchild. When they were done, it was both 99% fat-free and 99% flavor-free.

Will I buy it again? 

Why would I want to do that?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Trader Joe's Dried Wild Blueberries

My reaction to this product evolved over many phases:

PHASE 1, initial impulse: Ooooo, blueberries! I want that.

PHASE 2, reactive skepticism: Hey, but wait a second. Blueberries tend not to work well as a dried fruit. When I've had them before as part of dried-fruit mixes (see here, for instance) they tend to be shriveled and kind of unpleasant, with little sweetness.

PHASE 3, decision: Ties or doubts on purchasing an unfamiliar item at Trader Joe's are always resolved in favor of buying since I started this blog. A review every day demands a constant infusion of new material.

PHASE 4, desuetude: The Phase 2 fears dominated after I got the bag home. It sat in my cupboard for several months. I would always pass it by when choosing my late-night snack, like the three-legged dog at the shelter that never gets adopted.

PHASE 5, resignation: Finally, something snapped inside me, and I realized that the purposes for which I bought the product would go unfulfilled if I didn't actually eat it, so I pulled it down from the shelf and opened the bag.

PHASE 6, surprise: Wow--these are unexpectedly tasty! They're a lot sweeter than I thought they would be. In fact, they're sweet enough to remind me strongly of what you get in blueberry pie filling. Also surprising is that they're moist and plump--not so much dried as par-dried, if I am allowed to invent a new culinary term.

PHASE 7, continued enjoyment: Nom, nom, nom. I am seriously liking these. Quickly becoming one of my favorite dried fruits.

PHASE 8, suspicion: Hold the phone. Just how is it that these are so much sweeter than other dried blueberries I've had? In fact, they're sweeter than most whole blueberries I've had, both fresh and frozen. How can that be?

PHASE 9, remembrance: I recall being unhappy to discover added sugar in several Trader Joe's products where I did not expect it. Could my favorite store have pulled another fast one here, with this apparently all-natural, healthful snack?

PHASE 10, investigation: I flip the package over and locate the ingredients. "Wild blueberries. SUGAR. Sunflower oil."

PHASE 11, betrayal: Oh, Trader Joe's, how could you?

PHASE 12, conclusion: Look, I'm not anti-sugar. I likely consume more of it than the American per capita average, in candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, etc. In spite of that, I maintain that there are many, many food items that do not need to be sweetened, and/or that I do not want to be sweetened. I don't want sugar added to my crackers. I've learned that applesauce is better without it. I don't need it in pasta. Please keep it out of my soup. It has no place in bread. And I want dried fruit to stand or fall on its own natural sweetness and flavor, without being pumped full of sugar.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, April 11, 2016

Trader Joe's Black Rice

The official Trader Joe's guide to its rices lists 18 of them, but not this one, for reasons that are beyond my ken. Maybe it's being discontinued or something.

I hope not, because it's quite good. It's dense, hearty, substantial, chewy. When cooked, it's actually more a dark purple than black. I don't think I like it better than more ordinary rice varieties, but it's a nice change of pace. If for no other reason, you might want to buy some to use to liven up the color of an otherwise drab-looking dinner.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

I am a fan of this black rice. It is beautiful, it has a lovely toothsome texture, and the flavor is distinctive but not in any way oppressive. I must remember to pick some up on my next TJ's run.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Trader Joe's Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

I love, love, love this stuff. It's the fourth Trader Joe's salsa I've tried, after the wonderful Fall Harvest Salsa started me on a salsa kick. The pineapple salsa was so-so. The mango was bad enough that I threw away half of the container.

But this stuff? Fabulous. Perfect. Strong, hearty tomato flavor. Some bite from the vinegar. Medium-hot, which is all I want; hotter than this, and I think flavor loses out to sheer heat. Finely minced the way I like--almost to a puree--rather than chunky. It's just as much a hit with me as the Fall Harvest Salsa, with the added advantage of being available all year. And, for those to whom this matters, it's low in sodium. We don't need no stinkin' salt in our salsa!

Trader Joe's Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa, welcome to my Top Ten list.

Will I buy it again? 

There's a sub-stratum of the Top Ten list that I've never explicitly acknowledged before, but now is as good as time as any to talk about it. Some on that list are just occasional treats. But a few become staples that I always have in the house. This is the newest member of that elite group--both Top Ten AND a staple.

UPDATE: I've had, I think, five or six more jars of this stuff, and I continue to be as enthusiastic about it as I was then.

Nina's View

I'm detecting a theme here. Bob likes tomato-based products inordinately that I do not care for very much. I found this lumpy, watery, and lacking in seasoning. I cannot understand his enthusiasm for it, any more than I can imagine getting excited about plain stewed tomatoes.

But that's okay—the thin wedge is in the door on salsas. Who knows what other candidates will prove successful?

Saturday, April 9, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links pertaining to Trader Joe's--including a bumper crop of excellent tweets.

Discount grocers, including Trader Joe's, are ugly, no-frills stores

Praise for the kindness of a Trader Joe's employee

Trader Joe's return policy

31 vegan beauty products from Trader Joe's

New Trader Joe's items for April

Aldi vs. Trader Joe's: Comparing two bargain brands

The 9 best Trader Joe's coffees, ranked

Trader Joe's coffee

Best sunscreens for summer

The last (?) YouTube video from "Trader Joe" (published on April 1, though I didn't see it until later):

Best tweets of the week:








And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag, PLUS a special bonus cute cat on her Trader Joe's scratching pad.

Trader Joe's Kettle Cooked Chicken Soup

This is a brand-new item; see Trader Joe's description of it here. $5.99 for 32 ounces.

Did not like. I have a hard time believing that there is more chicken meat than celery and onions by weight, even though that's what the package claims. It seemed to me like celery/onion/carrot soup with bits of chicken added as an afterthought. Had I known how thick this was with onion and celery, I would not have purchased it. (I don't hate celery as much as I do onion, but nothing is made better by having celery in it, and everything is made worse by having celery in it.) As it was, I ate less than a quarter of this tub before dumping the rest.

I do fully realize that my hatred of onions is a weird quirk of mine, and that as a result anything with onions as more than a tiny constituent is going to get an extremely skewed review from me. But there's not much I can do about it, other than avoiding the products that for that reason I know in advance I'll hate. After all, the only opinion I can give you is my own, no matter how biased or flawed it may be.

Will I buy it again? 


Friday, April 8, 2016

Trader Joe's Blueberry Raspberry Oat Bran Muffins

This was a completely impulse purchase at the store yesterday. Muffins are not a staple of my diet, I didn't have them on my shopping list, and I didn't even know what kind of muffins TJ's carries. But I saw them, thought they looked good, and took them home. I had one right after I got home, another this morning for breakfast.

I like them, even though they don't fit very well with my mental image of what muffins are supposed to be. I think of muffins as light, while these are dense, heavy, substantial, and chewy. But I didn't mind. They're moist and delicious.

They're not perfect. The paper cup is really difficult to remove intact; I had to dig out a bunch of small pieces that tore off, leaving a pock-marked muffin behind. They're unusually sticky. I'd up the number of berries by about 50% if it were up to me. But still, the overall eating experience was strongly more positive than negative.

Will I buy it again? 

Next time the muffin impulse hits me, I hope I find them again.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Trader Joe's Freeze Dried Fuji Apple Slices

When I was young, we had a fruit drier and my mom would make dried apple slices in it. They became one of my favorite snacks. The memory of that was what prompted me to snatch this item up the first time I noticed it on the Trader Joe's shelves.

Alas, as Asheville's most famous son, Thomas Wolfe, said, you can't go home again. Nor can you buy your mother's cooking in a store.

The dried apple slices I grew up on were chewy, and that texture was a large part of what made them so enjoyable. The freeze-drying process for these, on the other hand, leaves them completely desiccated. They suck the moisture right out of your mouth, and crumble into apple dust with chewing. This is not pleasant, even though the flavor is perfectly acceptable. I'm also not a fan of leaving the skins on.

Will I buy it again? 

No. But surely it wouldn't be all that difficult to package dried apple slices made approximately the way my mother did (even if they can't include the love). How about it, TJ's?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Trader Joe's Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower

This is a brand-new product; Trader Joe's has not yet posted a description of it. $4.99 for a 24-ounce bag.

I liked this a lot more than I expected I would. The cauliflower comes in huge florets that emerge from the oven amazingly tender. The sauce is surprisingly spicy for a TJ's product. As Nina noted, "The Blandification Committee must have been on vacation."

Two quibbles: The packet of sauce contains at least twice as much as needed for the quantity of cauliflower, which just seems wasteful. And the cauliflower pieces themselves come in a plastic bag found within the outer plastic bag, which also seems wasteful.

Will I buy it again? 

Enthusiastically. Me likey.

Nina’s View

As Bob was preparing these I asked him to serve the sauce on the side, rather than stirring it in to the whole batch as prescribed by the instructions. I’m very glad that he accommodated me.

If you used the whole bag of sauce, you’d have a sodden, swamped batch of soggy cauliflower and it would taste mostly like pepper and sugar.

I used very little of the sauce, as I found that it tasted weirdly plain: salt, sugar, pepper. For me, it needed some more aromatics—like maybe some citrus notes (lemon juice, lemon oil). Or more garlic. SOMETHING. The pepper was hotter than I expected too.

Having said that, the cauliflower itself is not bad at all, and the breading (definitely NOT tempura, by the way) is nondescript but cooks up nicely. Were I to buy this, I would definitely tinker with the sauce and use it sparingly.