Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 4/11/17
In Central Jersey, those with Asian and non-Asian backgrounds have the blessing of being surrounded by delectable Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Filipino restaurants they can flock to anytime they have a craving for sushi, dumplings or spring rolls.
However, thanks to specialty food markets such as 99 Ranch, an Asian supermarket chain that opened its first New Jersey location at the Wick Shopping Plaza at 561 Route 1 in Edison in January, those with a constant craving for Asian dishes have new choices for their favorite meals.
The largest Asian supermarket chain in the United States with 49 locations since its establishment in 1984 in Westminster, California — also known as Little Saigon — with many more on the way, 99 Ranch expanded to Edison because of its large Asian population, said Virginia Tan, marketing manager for 99 Ranch.
According to the Edison Chamber of Commerce, about 40 percent of Edison’s population is Asian. Throughout the area, visitors and residents can find tons of Asian restaurants and businesses, such as Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, Island Spa, Shanghai Noodle House and more.
“99 Ranch saw huge popularity on the West Coast and then when they looked at the East Coast, they noticed that there weren’t many Asian markets there despite the large Asian population,” said Connie Lee, 99 Ranch marketing representative.
Other locations of 99 Ranch can be found in California, Nevada, Texas, Washington state and soon Oregon and Maryland.
Those with Asian backgrounds aren’t the only ones eager for Asian food, so 99 Ranch also caters to those who want to try cooking dishes they usually eat out at Asian restaurants as well as those looking for a little taste of home.
“99 Ranch has a ton of specialty products that you can’t find in an American market,” said Lee. “Shopping here is an explorative experience because you can have fun checking out the Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese and Filipino items.”
Lee said that this mix of cuisines from varying Asian countries is what makes 99 Ranch different from other Asian markets, which usually only offer cuisine from one specific region. Shoppers can check out what international items are available in the 99 Ranch hot deli, bakery, produce, seafood, meat and frozen foods section, where customers can find items such as frozen dumplings, and they can also purchase mainstream favorites such as bubble tea.
About 10,000 people head to 99 Ranch each week for their grocery shopping, with popular items being rice and fresh seafood. Plus, as a current special, 99 Ranch will fry any type of seafood bought at the store for customers for free.
A Jersey City 99 Ranch store is also under construction that Tan said is slated for the end of April. According to 2015 census data, about 25 percent of Jersey City’s population is Asian, and it was also named the most diverse city in the country by WalletHub in 2015.
“Those with an Asian background want to be able to purchase products that are from home,” said Lee. “99 Ranch has become the biggest Asian supermarket in the United States because they are a one-stop shop.”
99 Ranch Market
Where: Wick Shopping Plaza, 561 Route 1, Edison