A few years back my husband was looking for a duck to make duck gumbo. After trying a couple of places with no luck, he hit up Ranch 99 at 1005 Blalock Rd. and came home with a whole duck, head included.
Now, after researching Asian markets, I think I need to make a return trip or two, if for no other reason than to try jackfruit. Its tree is native to India, and its fig-like fruit is rich in potassium and reportedly helps the digestive system function properly. Also, people tell me the prices can’t be beat.
Rachel Herrick goes a couple times each year for the canned jackfruit, but also for the various types of ramen noodles as well as bulk jasmine and basmati rice, oils and various spices.
“The produce selection is great and sometimes way cheaper,” Herrick said.
Added Andrea Catalano: “I go to Ranch 99 for duck and also for spice needs like curry pastes, fresh curry leaves and pandanus leaves, and galangal root. It’s also a great place for cheap coconut milk and Hello Kitty nori.”
I had to follow up on pandanus leaves (tropical plant used to flavor desserts), galangal root (Siamese ginger) and Kitty nori (Hello Kitty chips, which come in flavors such as seaweed).
Carolina Chavez gets fresh fish from Ranch 99 – someone else said the fishes are so fresh they’re swimming – and also paper-thin sliced meats used for pho dishes. Carrie Hardaker said she goes there for whole beef filet, sushi-grade fish for poke and tuna tartare.
Ranch 99’s seafood overall gets rave reviews. Jeanette Utg said if you choose the fish, Ranch 99 will clean and cut it for you and even fry it.
Karen Yip is a big fan of everything about Ranch 99.
“Their pastries, all the dumpling/wonton wrappers, frozen onion pancakes and pot stickers, the variety of Asian veggies, all the condiments, a variety of soy sauces, and the tofu variety,” she said. “Not to mention frequent lunch stops at the food court and fried sesame balls to bring home, Lunar New Year goodies and Asian pears. We are so glad this chain established this site since it was familiar from Southern California.”
Fred Sanchez is also a frequent shopper.
“In making Asian meals, Ranch 99 is the most convenient place for Oak Forest,” he said. “My family loves Japanese shabu-shabu and my mother’s Filipino pancit. My wife enjoys a simple dish of miso soup so I can get dashi (Japanese soup stock) there.”
And if you are a fan of mushrooms, your fellow enthusiasts say that this is the place to go.
“They have about 20 different kinds of mushrooms and so many different kinds of bok choy … my stir fry is never boring,” Juliet Farmer said.
For others, it’s the hard-to-find foods that send them to Ranch 99 in the first place.
Marilyn Segura said it’s the place that sells the perfect broom for pet hair. Andreanna Schumacher gets quail eggs for her sugar gliders at Ranch 99. Sinta Fuhrmann goes for the Indonesian aisle.
But according to those in the know, there are some other nearby places to try. Carolina Chavez said Fiesta Mart has a nice Asian section, too. And Stella Stevens describes H Mart (1302 Blalock Rd.) as the H-E-B Central Market of Asian groceries stores.
“It’s Korean primarily and they have great deals on produce, a food court which is delicious, prepared Korean BBQ that you just throw on the grill, plus all mama noodles, shrimp chips, pocci, amazing candies and all the other stuff that you usually have to drive all the way to Chinatown for,” Stevens said.