4220 Florin Rd, Sacramento, CA 95823
One of the small things I'm always thankful for is living in California where Asian food is plentiful. I have Oto's Japanese Market on Freeport that I hit up for most of my Japanese cooking needs and the Asian Farmers' Market (kitty corner from the W Street Farmers' Market on Sundays) that I can pick up fresh Asian veggies at; but once in awhile, I need specialty ingredients when I'm attempting a new Thai, Indian, Hmong, etc. recipe. For the most part when the need has come up, I've been able to find what I need at SF Supermarket on 65th Street. But variety is the spice of life and I was pleased to know another large Pan-Asian market had opened in Sacramento (thanks for the heads up Anthony!). Since I had a few hours to kill, I trekked out to So. Sac to check out the new 99 Ranch Market located at Florin and Franklin (just down the road from Luther Burbank High School). I didn't know much about 99 Ranch but many of my Bay Area friends seemed familiar with the chain.
jujubes and longan
Upon walking in, I was struck by two things: the behemoth size of the store and that it was extremely clean. As you walk in, to the left is the produce area. The area was well organized and the fruits and veggies were colorful and fresh. There was a wide variety of ethnicities represented- I found myself next to rambutans, kholrabi, bitter melons, daikon and indian eggplants to name a few. Toward the back of the store is the live seafood area. The area was non-stop busy. I immediately noticed that the pungent "fishy" smell of other Asian markets and cloudy watered tanks were missing; looks like 99 Ranch is on top of their sanitation issues. The store states that they will "cut and gut" (and even fry) the fish for you if you like, which is a great deal. Amazingly, the entire time I was there (mid-day on a Monday) the area was hopping with people purchasing large prawns, bags of oysters, a plethora of fish and even sea cucumbers! It never stopped! The middle of the store carries spices, treats, sauces, liquor and dry goods like noodles and rice. I came across several sections of interesting looking frozen stuffed buns and dumplings. There's a few aisles of housewares and electronic kitchen gadgets and then you're upon the chaos-- the bakery and "food court" section. Here you can buy fresh breads and made-from-scratch pastries as well as tasty dim sum items, steaming hot bowls of noodles and boxed lunches. Hopefully the food court lines die down a bit once the market's been open for awhile. I'd like to go back and pick up a BBQ'd duck or some crispy pork. During my visit there were so many people elbow to elbow and a confusing criss-cross of lines that you would have thought that they were giving out free Justin Bieber tickets.
rice cooking wines
99 Ranch Market's prices seem on par with it's competitors. The fact that it's clean and well-stocked will probably be what draws me back. I also like that the customer base is as diverse as the products they carry there and everyone seems welcomed. The staff that I came across during my visit were all polite and helpful. There was a language barrier issue with one store clerk that was trying his best to help me locate an item but several nearby customers immediately jumped in to help me out. In addition to finding out where the item was located, I got several useful cooking tips! Oh and before I forget, take heed-- much like the other Asian markets in town, this place is rampant with little old Asian ladies speeding along like Andretti and ramming you with their carts. But no pain, no gain right?