The pros: Trader Joe's Banh Mi Inspired Noodle Bowl is a well done refrigerated item that manages to be fresh, filling, and not overly expensive. It is also a reasonable number of calories.
The cons: My package was a complete pain to open. I almost ended up spilling it all over the kitchen in an effort to release the top from the bottom.
The verdict: I hate packing lunch. Why? Because it means there is work tomorrow. There is no where to go out to lunch where I work. Even then, I rarely have time to even get to the corner store on a forty minute lunch. Needless to say, I like grab and go options.
But there is a problem. A lot of those grab and go options haven't been that great. I've had a few too many lunches that were disappointing at best, which naturally resulted in me going to the deli around the corner. Now, some days I have something I can put in the freezer, but others I try to bring in something a bit more fresh.
If I've complained on this blog about anything Trader Joe's related, it is most likely about items found in the refrigerated section. It's the one area of the store than needs some serious revision. I'm always perplexed as to why items like the Chicken Piccata are on the shelves, and other cult favorites like the Hollandaise have been discontinued off of the shelves. I've had a number of lackluster wraps too. Some were good. Others tasted great until you looked at the caloric information and realized you had consumed half a days worth of calories.
I saw this and had not seen it previously. I'm always up for some food that comes from a culture other than my own. I can make certain food items well. Others just inspire me to try new things. Now, I do know people who have traveled to Southeast Asia. I'll let those people use the comment section to comment on it's "inspired nature."
Meanwhile, Banh Mi is actually Vietnamese for bread, but can also refer to the popular sandwich. Clearly, this is a reference to the contents of a Banh Mi sandwich and not the bread it is served on. Now, if you are health conscious, you might read the nutritional information and try to skip out on the 190 calories worth of dressing. I found the dressing to be perfectly portioned for a bowl the size and the calories it bought were worth each and everyone.
If you try the components without dressing, you might end up thinking that they are lackluster. But, it is the dressing makes this work and brings the flavors together. This is a great mix of veggies, tofu, angel hair sized noodles, a hint of sriracha and spice which the creamy and tangy dressing brings together. The tofu is very firm, dense and looks spicier than it really is. There is a mild spice, but nothing that should scare anyone away. Spice junkies might still reach for some additional hot sauce.
For $4.99 this was one of the better prepackaged meals I've ever tried. It was very filling and could possibly be split between two people as a side. In either case, this is worth a try if you like grab and go meals. There was a lot going on in this bowl and ever bite had such a good mix of textures and flavors. I enjoyed every bite and might make this a regular item in my cart. Just keep in mind, this does have cilantro and the package was not the most user-friendly. Mine just didn't want to release the goodness in the plastic container.
Here is the visual run down of what you get if you buy this product:
The package of Trader Joe's Banh Mi Inspired Noodle Bowl:
The nutritional information and the ingredients of Trader Joe's Banh Mi Inspired Noodle Bowl:
Out of the package you get:
Would I buy this again? Yes, I would buy Trader Joe's Banh Mi Inspired Noodle Bowl. It was well done and filling.
Want to see more items I've reviewed from Trader Joe's? Click on Thoughts & Reviews of Trader Joe’s for a searchable list.
Did you try it? Let me know what you think in the comments section!