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There are many different types of prepared, pre-cooked, and frozen foods available in today's markets.  I've listed some of the brands I've tried below (an asterisk * indicates gluten-free). Newest additions are highlighted.

[Last updated on July 8, 2006]


Vegetable and meat dumplings Chung Jun Won [4 stars]
These are the small, almost squarish dumplings that I often use; one of my husband's favorites.
Shrimp gyoza JFC [4 stars]
Tasty, easy to prepare (I prefer pan frying followed by steaming in the same pan) – see for details.
Pork gyoza JFC [5 stars]
One of my favorites.  You can throw them into a hot frying pan straight from the freezer, and they'll be done in minutes.
Red bean buns Chi Mei [2 stars]
These are ok if you heat them right (which means "ignore the manufacturer's instructions and microwave them for much less time").
Shrimp shu mai Ajinomoto [3 stars]
Not my favorite, but pretty good.  Also very easy to prepare in the microwave.
Pork and vegetable buns Kimbo [1 star]
The steamed bun part was pretty good, but the filling was a bad tasting little hockey puck!
Shrimp har gao and
shrimp shu mai
Trader Ming's [1 star]
Trader Joe's does not often fail me, but it totally did on this one.  I tried to make these in the microwave per the instructions, and they came out AWFUL!  I have another box, so I will try another cooking method next time (and maybe change my rating).

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Yakisoba
(fresh yaki-soba noodles with seasoning sauce base)
Maruchan's [5 stars]
I love these.  I get them in the 'fresh' section of my Asian market and stick them into the freezer when I get home.  The noodles and sauce packets are individually portioned, so I just pull out what I need the night before to defrost in the fridge.
Udon soup
(jumbo nama udon with soup base)
Yamasho [4 stars]
Surprisingly good!  I like to add steamed veggies, some fish cake, and a hard-boiled egg to make it a real meal.  I also find this in the 'fresh' section of my Asian market, and I keep it in the freezer until I need it.
Kung pao noodles Simply Asia [3 stars]
Not bad for a box mix!  Just add some extra veggies and some protein to kick it up a notch.
Pad thai with shrimp Neisha [5 stars]
Sooo good for a microwave meal.  I like to add fresh scallions, lime, and peanuts to enhance the flavors.  The only bad thing is that one package really serves 1, not 2.
Chow mein noodles Fuji Men [1 star]
This just wasn't that good.
Lemongrass-chili noodles* Thai Kitchen [5 stars]
The hubs loves this one. "I could eat it every day," he says. Very quick preparation as well.

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Kung pao chicken with rice Trader Ming's [4 stars]
Very good, easy to prepare.  It really is 1 large serving, and does not make even 2 bento servings.
Mandarin orange chicken Trader Ming's [5 stars]
Pan-frying makes it crispier and tastier than if you make it in the oven.  The sauce is delectable.  Just serve with rice and steamed broccoli for a fantastic meal.  One package is enough for 4 to 5 servings.
Tuna in yellow curry sauce* Trader Joe's [4 stars]
We loved this! The curry (which also has potatoes in it) comes in a pouch and only needs to be microwaved.  I tucked it inside some onigiri and it was excellent!
Sweet and sour shrimp with rice Trader Joe's [2 stars]
Not too bad, but not the best we've had from TJs.  The 3 servings really only serve 2 (or 1-1/2).
Golden Curry (medium hot) S&B [4 stars]
Very easy to prepare, good flavor. Does contain MSG.
Tuna in red curry sauce* Trader Joe's [5 stars]
Super-flavorful and incredibly easy to make (er, heat up).

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Edamame* Wel-pac [3 stars]
These are pretty good.  They are still in the pod and cook up in the microwave pretty well.
Edamame (shelled)* Trader Joe's [4 stars]
These are great tossed onto some rice, into a salad or stir-fry, with noodles, you name it!
Thai-style ginger carrots Trader Joe's [2 stars]
Sweet and gingery, easy to prepare, healthy.  I just don't like my carrots this sweet!

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Chicken drummettes Trader Joe's [5 stars]
My favorite chicken nugget brand.  White meat breaded chicken shaped like little drumsticks - so cute, so good, and not bad for you!
Party-size mini meatballs Trader Joe's [5 stars]
Great flavor and a cute size.  I like to skewer them for a bento. I've also popped them into mini-pita breads.
Chicken nuggets (air-chilled)* Bell & Evans [4 stars]
Pretty darn good! These chicken nuggets are uncooked, so they take longer to fry/bake. Nice white meat.

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Tofu burger patty mix House [5 stars]
Incredibly easy to make, tasty, and it's good for you!
Garlic and onion flavored tofu* Nasoya (organic) [4 stars]
This comes uncooked.  I like to cut it into bite-sized pieces and then fry it up until it's crisp and golden.


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Vegetarian mushroom stir-fry Lee Kum Kee [3 stars]
I like this sauce, but my husband isn't a huge fan.  I use it to stir-fry veggies for side dishes and find that it complements Chinese broccoli nicely.
Teriyaki stir-fry Tonton [4 stars]
One of our favorite teriyaki sauces, very liquidy.  Good for SPAM for musubi and to stir-fry veggies.
Ginger scallion stir-fry Trader Joe's [4 stars]
My husband likes this one a lot.  A bit thick out of the jar, but it loosens up once it hits the heat and the food.
Honey barbecue Sweet Baby Ray's [4 stars]
Sweet and tangy.  Yum!
Island teriyaki Soy Vay [5 stars]
We really loved this. Chock full of yummy ingredients, this is great as a stir-fry sauce.
Japanese mayo Kewpie [4 stars]
A must for sushi and great mixed with tuna and a little wasabi for onigiri filling.  The cute bottle doesn't hurt either.  Find it at your local Asian grocery.
Oyster-flavored stir-fry J-E-S [2 stars]
Kinda boring.
Wasabi mayonnaise* Spectrum [4 stars]
Good flavor.

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Panda cakes
(strawberry filling)
I MEI [4 stars]
I love these!  The panda shape is so cute!  I find them in the bakery aisle of my Asian market.
Monkey cakes
(azuki bean filling)
I MEI [4 stars]
My husband's favorite of the mini cakes.
Koala cakes
(blueberry filling)
I MEI [2 stars]
Ok, these weren't bad, but the blueberry flavoring just doesn't mix as well with the azuki bean...
Clementines in a can* any [1 star]
I am convinced that clementines are only good fresh.
Quadratini chocolate wafer cookies Loacker [5 stars]
Really cute, really tasty, and not too bad for you.  I found these at Trader Joe's.
Mini-Milano cookies Pepperidge Farm [4 stars]
The same terrific cookies, but bento-sized!
Mini-mint Milano cookies Pepperidge Farm [5 stars]
I looooove mint Milano cookies, and these bite-size beauties are just sooo cute!
Mandarin oranges* Dole [4 stars]
Mandarin oranges aren't often in season.  When they're not, I like this brand of tinned oranges. The light ones are good too.
Organic Vanilla Animal Cookies* EnviroKidz [4 stars]
Light and airy, nice texture, "addicting" says the hubs.
Mini-Brussels cookies Pepperidge Farm [5 stars]
Somehow these taste even better than their big counterparts.

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