2nd 99 Ranch in SD?

Looks like there might be one! According to the Union-Tribune, Tawa (the corporation which owns 99 Ranch) is bidding for the former Haggen (former Albertson’s) on Balboa and Genessee.

Now of course this isn’t the early 90s when a new 99 ranch meant that a Sam Woo and other restaurants were close behind but I wonder what it might mean for Asian (especially Chinese) business development with a 99 Ranch and 85c at the intersection, even if they are across the street in different strip malls.

And it looks like they won the bid for the former Haggen on Telegraph Canyon off the 805. Here’s who is bidding on the Haggen stores

I’m not familiar with the South Bay Chinese scene but seems interesting.

thanks for the info!

I hope you’re right! I saw that article too, but for the Balboa loacation, it just mentioned Tawa as the bidder. I was going to look up to see who they are, but you’ve answered the question.

But…isn’t that pretty close to the other Ranch 99 on CMB?

Having one on Telegraph Canyon Rd seems more of a likely location.

BTW, seems to be an error in the paper, since it said that the Tawa bid for the Balboa location was all of $30K. (I think they missed a zero.)

Geographically, yes.

But in terms of demographics, the 805 fwy divide in that area creates a rather stark contrast in demographics - both culturally and culinarily.

I’m more surprised with the Chula Vista location. I would’ve guessed they would look to expand in the North County, as opposed to moving south. Perhaps it’s to capture some of the Filipino grocery dollars?

Yes. Interesting observations.

Yes, I find that surprising too. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a number of Chinese people in Chula Vista but it’s surprising given that they totally opted not to bid for the store on the Carmel Mountain Ranch/Rancho Penasquitos border.

Granted the PQ/CMR store was one of the smaller stores when Albertson’s expanded into the market in the late 90s/early 2000s but it’s closer to the hub of upper middle class Chinese in PQ/CMR/RB whose closest Asian grocery store is the H Mart in Mira Mesa.

I read on Eater (which came from MMM-Yoso) that the Balboa 99 Ranch Market is planning a soft opening this Thursday and a grand opening this weekend. So I stopped by and poked around.

I’d say it looks like it’s going to be a push to get the inside finished and stocked in the next two days, but maybe they plan to bring in a small army of staff to pull that off. About all that can be seen right now, looking through the west entrance, are a few fixtures – a couple of them stocked with fruit – and that wall of shelves that separates front from back, which Albertsons (and Haggen) used to have on that end of the store behind the produce (and that I never cared for). Plus huge signs on the wall in the very back of the store (“seafood”, “beer”, etc.). There’s a bakery and café on the far east end, with a separate sign outside (“B/C”), although it’s contiguous with the rest of the market. The seats for the café are in place, but that area also still looks very rough. Big outdoor sign on the building says Grand Opening October 22, so we shall see.

Just back from the new 99 Ranch Market. This is a big win for the area! The store is bright and spacious-feeling, and it was 99% stocked today. I was impressed.

The area near the west entrance looked like it lacked fixtures when I peeked in a couple of days ago, but that’s because produce in the middle part of that area is on wood crate-like fixtures (like at Sprouts) that were probably brought in later.

On the east end, where the bakery/café is located, what I could see through the door previously is a still-shuttered something right near the entrance, where shopping carts are located. But set back and hidden behind that area there are maybe five walk-up restaurants, plus a common seating area, somewhat in the manner of Zion (but smaller and with restaurants in one straight line).

One of the five restaurants is Shann Xi Magic Kitchen, but it wasn’t open yet. Very happy to see it there though! There were people going in and out of the kitchen area, so perhaps it’ll be open by the weekend.

Another restaurant is Saigon 5, which only had part of their menu available today (no surprise). I had the bahn mi thit nguoi (pork belly), which was very good but was lacking cilantro. Probably will include that once they’re fully up and running. I appreciated that they had a bowl of sliced fresh jalapenos in the condiments area, and I added some to the sandwich.

As with the other 99 Ranch on CMB, there’s a huge assortment of Asian foods, meats, and seafood.

I never saw the parking area with as many cars as it had today, when it was Albertson’s or Haggen, even on the busiest days of the year. I hope this new store does well!


Thanks for the report.

I returned to 99 Ranch for lunch today, hoping to eat at Shann Xi Magic Kitchen (yes, it’s spelled with two "n"s here), but although there was a group clustered around the cash register, alas, still not open. Their menu was up, though; a relatively small subset of what they offer at their restaurant on Convoy, but it includes dumplings, soups, and noodles.

Turns out that the Krispy Krunchy Chicken place also has non-franchise based “local favorites”, which include ramen, poke, and several Japanese small plates. I’ll try those eventually.

So I ate at Saigon 5 again (which I’ve heard is an offshoot of Saigon on Fifth). This time I tried their pho tai, a baseline soup for any pho place. Well, let’s just say it was tasty but different. The broth was light and sweet-tasting, with very little if any anise. The sprouts and basil were already in the bowl, as opposed to being served on the side, so you can’t choose to put in as much or little as you wish. Also, the meat, while very good, was much more like the lean brisket you get in pho chin. I like pho chin, but the meat in pho tai is very thin-sliced and raw, usually about 3" in size. If this sounds like a bowl you’d enjoy then go for it, but it’s not “your mama’s” pho tai, as they say.

There are actually only four restaurants in the little food court on the east side of the market. The fourth is “Mr. A Café”.

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Shann Xi at 99 Ranch Market on Balboa is now open.

We’d already had lunch yesterday (Sunday) or would maybe have tried something there. The soups that most people were eating or carrying were large and delicious-looking, with oily red broth. Yum!

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I had lunch at the Shann Xi Magic Kitchen in the new 99 Ranch Market today and enjoyed it. I ordered a bowl called “spicy stewed pork hand–pulled noodles”, or something like that. Very tender and flavorful stewed pork on top of wide noodles, with some baby bok choy and some chili oil mixed in. The noodles were almost as wide as biang biang noodles (which is on the abridged menu here), but they weren’t as long, maybe only three inches.

The noodles were quite good, but the dish was hardly “spicy”, maybe reaching a 3 on my personal hotness scale. Happily, they have extra chili oil in the condiments area, and I added quite a bit of that to kick things up to perhaps a 4. They also have a jar of delicious pickled garlic cloves that you can help yourself to at the counter; they went extremely well with the bowl.

One downside here is that they don’t serve water. When I asked for water, I was told I could go to Mr. A Cafe next door! Eventually, though someone from Shann Xi asked someone from Mr. A on my behalf for a cup of water, and I finally got some. Next time I’ll bring a bottle of water from home.

While at the new 99 Ranch Market today I decided to try the tonkotsu ramen at Krunchy Chicken. In a word, meh. The pork slices were flavorful enough, and the white broth, while creamy smooth, was just fair flavor-wise. The boiled egg was ok.

The ramen noodles were poor. They tasted like the dehydrated packaged kind, which is maybe why it took so long to get my order to the table even though I was their only customer at the time. Enough said.

The bowl came with a free sample chicken tender, which was tasty when dipped in the Louisiana hot sauce that they provide in little cups in the condiments area.

Strangely, they don’t have ordinary Asian-style spoons. They had to borrow one from their neighbor, Saigon 5, for me. They only had small plastic American-style “straight” spoons. The bowl came with a large ladle-sized scoop, but I don’t know how to eat with that.

They had water, a least.

Speaking of which, I noticed that Shann Xi now has a water bottle and plastic cups behind the counter, so no need to BYO water.

Oh, and the mysterious corrugated metal-covered empty slot near the east entrance now has a sign on it. It’s going to be an eyeglass store, not a restaurant.

Back to Shann Xi for their “Spicy Hot Oil Seared Hand-Ripped Noodles” (whew!). I ordered this to get the full flavor of the noodles themselves, pretty much unadorned.

These are nominally round noodles, maybe 3 mm diameter, and the length of spaghetti noodles. There’s a little ground dry chili on top, and a few sprouts, but no real veggie component. Best to order a side if you want a veggie.

The noodles, naked and largely unadorned, were pretty good, if not outstanding. There was lots of oil in the bottom of the bowl, to stir into the noodles.

I was disappointed that there were no pickled garlics in the condiments area this time, but at least they did have plain water on request.

They still don’t give you an “Asian style” spoon, the kind with the perpendicular oval bowl, usually plastic at such places. They only have white plastic, straight soup spoons. Not helpful.

The spelling difference between the food court Shann Xi and the Shan Xi restaurant has been explained by someone on Yelp. It turns out that the restaurant name is misspelled. The restaurant intends to change the spelling to Shann Xi. If you want more details, visit the Shann Xi page on Yelp.

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Ha! So there you go. Thanks for the info.

So both places should be Shann Xi. I’d found the difference in spelling enigmatic.

Back to Shann Xi at 99 Ranch today and had their “original handmade noodles”. Not sure that’s the exact name but it was #13 on the current menu.

It was awful.

A thin broth with no zip and little flavor (before adding chili paste); a clump of noodles that tasted anything but fresh; and cubed potatoes and carrots that tasted like they came from a package in one of the frozen aisles in the store. Oh, and teeny tiny pieces of meat. Pork, maybe. Not sure.

And they still have those darn straight American-style soup spoons. It’s hard to eat an Asian soup out of an Asian-style bowl with a small disposable-plastic American-style spoon.

Thanks, but no thanks guys. In future, I’ll go to the original Shann Xi, or take a pass. The only advantage that the 99 Ranch location has is parking.

I went over to 99 Ranch on Balboa today to buy some peeled garlic cloves (which they had in small containers the last time I looked), but alas, none to be found. I was a bit bummed by that, but decided to try the fourth of the four counter-service restaurants, Mr. A Café (not to be confused with Mr. A’s!). In truth, I was on my way to Saigon 5 when I noticed that this place not only serves drinks but also has inexpensive Taiwan “snacks”, and “meals”. I opted for the minced pork rice meal ($8), and while it wasn’t exactly gourmet, I enjoyed it.

The “meal” came with a mild, tasty chicken egg-drop type (I think) bowl of soup, which I ate first while it was nice and hot. The “meal” itself was a large shallow rice bowl that included seasoned, finely minced pork, some cold sliced mildly pickled cabbage, a halved brown hard-boiled egg (with an unusual flavor), and a couple of springs of cold fresh broccoli on top of the white rice. No heat whatsoever, spicy-wise, and there were no sauces at the counter, but that was OK.

I’ll return to try other things here, and was glad to find out that there’s a fourth option for hot “fast” meals at the new 99 Ranch Market.

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