Tuesday, October 13, 2009

99 Ranch Market, A Love Story

Am I weird? Is it odd that I love love love really good grocery stores and will find a good reason to be in a far-off neighborhood to frequent some of my favorites? As a grocery store geek, I was ecstatic when I heard that the legendary 99 Ranch Market was opening a new location in Concord, a mere 34.5 miles from my house door-to-door. And, as luck would have it, I actually have legitimate reasons to be in or around Concord on a fairly frequent basis. One of those reasons (a darling niece's 2 year-old birthday) just happened to coincide with the market's grand opening celebration. No brainer - 99 Ranch, here I come.

If you're unfamiliar with 99 Ranch Market, just imagine all of Asia under one roof. They are gorgeous stores, with aisle after aisle teeming with Asian products I'll never decipher (most labels are not in English). In fact, I have to stick to the peripheries of the stores - heading into the heart of the market is just out of my league (fish powder? seaweed candy? dried nuts, seeds and herbs that look unlike anything I've ever seen? Yikes - I need some cultural immersion!). At any rate, the outside edges of the stores are where the good things are anyway; several laps were in order.

There are massive bakeries with stunning pastry concoctions; immense fish markets with sushi-grade fish, live fish and fresh shellfish; beautiful produce sections stocked with all the basics, as well as plenty of exotic things you've never heard of; and of course, the take-out counters. You can load up at the buffet and get your fill of everything from Pad Thai to Mu Shui Pork. Or stop by the grill to get a Peking duck or a roast chicken. Or my favorite, the Dim Sum bar, where you can get 3 pieces of dim sum - anything on display - for $2.20. Are you kidding me? No wonder the little old Chinese ladies and the high school saggy-pants boys were jockeying for position in the line that snaked to the back of the store.

So I braved the crowds and loaded up. I took home enough dim sum to feed me for a week (lunches, done!), and spent all of about 14 bucks. I also got some beautiful fresh tuna, some pretty desserts, a packet of dried mandarin peel, some nori wraps for sushi, and a random can of soup (Randall called... he wanted clam chowder. Go figure.) I was out of there in under three hours - maybe a record (oh how I love to browse...) - and have been enjoying my bounty pretty much ever since. Take a look for yourself, and be sure to get there when you can. There's perfectly good dim sum just waiting!

Bao (I got chicken and BBQ pork)

Pork Shumai

Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaves

Grilled and Stuffed Eggplant; Shrimp Wonton

My Dim Sum Bonanza

My Dim Sum Bonanza, v.2


Pineapple Candy; Lotus Cake


  1. I'm addicted to 99 Ranch, and the closest one to me is 26 miles away. I'm there way too often.

    And I love your fish rack/wooden thingy that the bao is sitting on. Want one!

  2. Ranch 99 is a great place to buy a lot of exotic fruits and fresh seafood. I used to go to the one in San Jose all the time when I lived in Cali. Luckily they have them up here in/near Seattle too!