Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ranch 99: a review ..sort of

i just came back from ranch 99. rumors are true. it's pretty great. although.. walking in, i immediately sensed something was missing. at first i couldn't figure it out so i went through my mental checklist of chinese grocery store must-haves:

lots of asian people, check.
shopping cart jam around the hanging roast ducks, check.
token white person, check.
crates of durian by checkout lines, check.
old guys sitting on wooden stools drinking tea, check.
token black person, check.
loud cantonese woman, check.
the pungent smell of live sea creatures, ch... wait, that's it!!

although i'm not about to discredit this new place as an authentic asian grocery store by its lack of fishiness.. it's certainly a surprise to not be face-whipped by the smell.

what makes people love ranch 99 so much?

for some people, comfort foods are chicken noodle soup, casseroles, fried chicken, etc. para mi, it's fried gluten, fermented bean curds and bitter melon. YOMM. ranch 99 takes me way back. when i went today, i rolled through every aisle pulling down things my mom used to buy and cook for us.

* hee neen de: almond tea. forget hot cocoa! this was always a hUge treat that my mom would pull out during the winter.

* mee tee: fried gluten. i don't know how else to describe this other than.. wrinkly, soggy, oily, and spongy deliciousness. i never understood why they only come in half-size cans. our family would fight over this stuff on saturday mornings and it's always the first to go.

* dao lee: fermented bean curd. this tastes best smeared over everything. the closest thing i can think of that it looks like is plaque. yeah.. sounds hecka nasty. hahhaaa

* guay ya: pickled cucumbers. again, forget pickles! these are exponentially better.

* bah so: dried pork. i remember asian ladies selling buckets of these from the trunk of their cars after church when we lived in new york. this is pretty much a staple in our pantry at home. i eat them like chips.

* spicy preserved bamboo shoots: this is my version of kimchee.

* butter coconut cookies: every time my family'd brave the 5 hour drive into new york city to visit my grandparents, we'd have at least one pack of these cookies in the back of the caravan.

* sesame sachima cookies: i don't know why they're called cookies.. they're more like sticky blocks of yummy. one summer in new york, our house had an ant infestation where they took over anything sweet in our pantry. i remember finding these covered black with ants. no worries though, i still eat them = ]

* ba zaaang: i haven't tried these yet but i hope there's lots and lots of peanuts and squishy pieces of fat and maybe an egg yolk!

* cha sa bao: this just reminded me of the attacking cha sa bao from white elephant last christmas...

* koh guay: bitter melon. does anyone else lOve this stuff?? i felt very proud finding myself picking out bitter melons with old asian grandmas at the store :D

well, that's a rundown of some of my favorite things. taiwanese lesson included.



  1. lololol. I LOVE MIEN JING...so goood

    mien jing (mee tee), rou song (bah so), gua gua (pickles), and xi fan (porridge!). :) ..of course my translation is in mandarin...

    we should definitely have a Chinese home-style brunch one of these days. I can make Gai Lan! (chinese broccoli..in cantonese..-__-) .

    ..and some seaweed...furikake...yellow gua gua...crunchy ground pork...you tao...*drifts into thought*

  2. ahh I used to hate "koh guay" when i was younger but now the bitterness doesn't bother me a bit! (I ordered it with my "white" team in China, and they almost gagged...they insisted there was an pesticide in it..."

    do you like "pi dan"? (thousand year-old egg) -- the black egg stuff they put in am bie (porridge...not sure how to spell it out in taiwanese...)

  3. omgomgomg how could i forget that! love those black eggs :D