Chinese Groceries on the Westside?

A problem for me has been finding the higher quality Chinese pantry ingredients. When I hit the aisle at Ranch 99 I found most of the vinegars contained corn syrup, caramel color, and other flavorings you wouldn’t expect to see. Kind of a bummer. I’ve had no problem finding top-notch Japanese and Thai products in L.A…

I’ll look around next time I’m in San Francisco or Vancouver; maybe those cities will offer more retail options.


Corn syrup in rice vinegars? There might be caramel added for color (trust me, you wouldn’t want it in its natural state), but I don’t believe I’ve ever spied corn syrup in Chinese vinegars. Below are two labels from two very popular and high quality vinegars, neither of which contain “corn syrup” even though one does have caramel for coloring.

Koon Chun seems to be one of the better brands. Let me snap a picture of Lee Kum Kee’s export versions of their products when I get home from work.

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Ha @ipsedixit! I was just trying to take a photo of my new bottle of vinegar and you did the honors for me.

I found it at Ralph’s, of all places. The Asian items are across the aisle from the canned black mission olives, so I gave the shelf a quick skimming glance-through, and there it was! I love Los Angeles.


Saw the “Fructose”, alarm bells went off. I concede it’s probably not corn-derived.

Nevertheless, these all are industrial products and I’d like to find a source for some higher quality ingredients. .

Finding good quality Shao Xing has been a problem for me. While Ranch 99 has a wide selection, unfortunately, they all are “cooking wines” (i.e. salt has been added and don’t require a liquor license to sell). If the store has a liquor license, they may have a brand that doesn’t have salt added, but I haven’t found a source yet. The ones I’m looking for are Pagoda Brand Shao Xing Rice Wine from Zhejiang (blues or yellow label). Years ago, Chin Chin used to sell a version of it in their restaurants.

I’ve been able to obtain Gold Plum Chinkaing black vinegar through Amazon (for a premium price), but after getting it, there is something about the smell and flavor I don’t like (too musty maybe?), so I substitute white vinegar instead which adds no flavor but makes it sour. I can live with that. :slight_smile: If you have any luck, let us know. I did find a mail-order source a while ago located in NY, which ships, and I was able to locate a product which seems to have disappeared off the shelves of every Asian store I’ve visited. It’s called Red Ginger Slices (or threads) in syrup made by Meechun Canning in China. It’s an essential ingredient in my Chinese Chicken Salad I make (also used in Chin Chin’s famous Chinese Chicken Salad). Sorry, I can’t locate the URL but if I do, I’ll post it

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Now I’m on a serious quest for that wine.

I mentioned above I found the Gold Plum vinegar at Ralph’s (!) on sale for
about $3. I tripled-checked the label because it seems too good to be true.

I would not imagine that you find that at Ralphs. Good find for you!

A lot of 99 Ranch stores also have a separate liquor store section on the premises. That’s where you’ll ask for the higher quality Shao Xing, should you wish for it. You’ll pay at the cashier in that section as well, not in the main grocery lines.

Unless you’re looking for something even higher end than I’ve encountered, that should work out.

Good to know! Insider tips for the Ranch. I’ve never been, but will
probably go next week.

99 Ranch will also special order items for you.


I aspire to one day know enough to know what I’d special order. #imjustanoob


I have a craving for Chinese sausage. The sweet, greasy, anise-flavored one.

Does any place sell Chinese sausage on the Westside?

Throw those sweet Chinese sausages in the rice cooker. Eat when ready with some greens.

Or you can use the sausage flavored rice for fried rice the next day aka best fried rice ever


You’re killing me. That greens thing sounds great.

Simpang Asia has the Chinese sausage.

To get some funky goodness Malaysian/Indonesian style into your sausage/greens/rice, try belecan.

For greens to-go, try their cah kangkung (sautéed water spinach w/ chili and garlic).


FYI, Ralphs Signature in Mid City (east of La Brea, b/w Venice & Pico) has the Chinkiang Vinegar in their International Section. No Shaoxing, however.

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Amen @frommtron. [quote=“frommtron, post:33, topic:4155, full:true”]
I aspire to one day know enough to know what I’d special order. #imjustanoob
[/quote]I hear ya’. I want Shaoxing Wine right now!

I’m preparing to work on something and really don’t want to substitute on my first attempt. Did anyone find any that’s not in the Valley or requires a freeway? Or should I go with that pricier Amazon option?


why not try a blend of rice vinegar and either malt or maybe a balsamic vinegar to get closer to the intended complexity. with white vinegar, you’re mainly just raising the acidity a bit more abruptly.

hey thanks for the suggestion! I the meantime, I found Shoashing at Ranch 99. Its located where the wines are near the front of the store. Yea!