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May 17, 2009 05:43 PM

Rambutan and Mangosteen

I went to the ABC Market shopping center today, on the corner of Magnolia and Bolsa in Westminster. The fruit and flower shop there had both fresh rambutan and mangosteen. I've been eating myself sick on them since about noon. They weren't cheap, but they weren't any more expensive than I can recall them being around town either. (Although I can't remember the exact price - I paid $43 total for what I think was about 4 lbs.)

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  1. Going rate for mangosteens is $6 or $7 a pound.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      They have bags of both at Trader Joe's -- freeze dried. Not DRIED. Freeze dried. Tasty.

      1. re: Hershey Bomar

        FRESH, like you can get in Little Saigon at the fruit and flower shop in the ABC Market shopping center, just plain kicks the butt of the best freeze dried anything. I don't care for the freeze dried anytime, but when fresh is available, it's just silly to bother with the Trader Joe's version - even if it does require a lot of driving.

        1. re: estone888

          I think comparing the two is insane. I'm just sharing info...

          No one I know seems to have tried them freeze dried. They are not dried and gummy but crunchy and nutty.

          Sometimes I crave pizza and sometimes (rarely) but sometimes I crave a frozen pizza. That's all I'm saying. Variety my friend... Variety...

            1. re: Hershey Bomar

              The freeze-dried mangosteens from TJ's are out of this world!

              1. re: Galen

                I can't imagine freeze-dried anything is out of this world. I love Mangosteens, but even the expensive ones in SGV fruit stores and 99 Ranch aren't very good. I remember seeing fresh Rambutan at Trader Joe's and they looked awful. Nothing like I've seen in my travels in SEA. It was the first time I felt sorry for a piece of fruit.

                99 Ranch
                17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                1. re: bsquared2

                  The Trader Joe's freeze-dried mangosteens are very good for what they are. Of course, if you expect that luscious delicate flavorful fruit to approach your mouth with both hips a'swingin' it ain't going to happen. It's more like candy, and of course the texture is more like styrofoam. I think if one goes in the other direction from the freeze-dried stuff to the real thing, then the sparks fly.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    My dear...has anyone yet told you that your metaphor is a marvel?

                    Heck - if not, let me be the first!!!

          1. re: Hershey Bomar

            totally different beast once freeze dried.

          2. re: Das Ubergeek

            I just bought some mangosteens at Hoa Binh Garden Grove Supermarket for $3.99 a pound.

            Hoa Binh Garden Grove Supermarket
            13922 Brookhurst St Garden, Grove, CA

          3. just curious--did you try to bargain down?? i love going to those fresh fruit shops and bargaining as if I was in the markets in VN just to get the experience. They're tough but occasionally, if you buy enough, they will drop a few bucks here and there (the two at ABC center are actually of the same family no can't really bargain between the two stores)


            1. Bought some mangosteen today at $5.99/lb from the market at the southeast corner of Valley and Atlantic in Alhambra. Very fresh, and so reasonable. I paid 2 or 3 times this price last year.

              1. ... more expensive? I saw them today at Gelson's in Silver Lake. $9.99 for a box -- containing maybe 10 rambutan's.

                1. i was thinking of picking up some mangosteens this weekend on my way down from LA to San Diego to treat my fam.

                  1. are they in season yet?
                  2. where can i get them along the 405 or 5?
                  3. um, how does one eat them? i haven't read up, but are they just big lychee-like things?
                  4. how many does one feed?

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: Rosiepigs

                    I picked up some mangosteens at 99 Ranch a couple of weekends ago. I brought them home and didn't get a one - all gone before I could try them. My wife who is from Malaysia, used to eat these back home like we eat tangerines. I think they were around $8-9 a pound. I remember the checker being worried that I wouldn't want to pay (I think it was) about $20 for the prefilled net bag that was a little over two pounds.

                    They look like a smallish more roundish persimmon but with an eggplant-like purplish color. Some may even describe it as looking like an exotic eggplant. Here's the wiki:


                    How many does one feed? More like how many will one eat! If you're just curious, then pick up about one per person, but I would suggest buying and trying one first. Ask the vendor to show you how to open them, try it, then decide. They're not cheap, so the quality better be up to snuff, and more importantly, you'd better think the taste is worth it. Its taste is very approachable to most - somewhat delicate - and it is considered to be "the Queen of Fruits," sitting next to "the King," which would be durian.

                    If you're heading down the 405 toward the 5, then Little Saigon would be the place to get them. If they're still available, they should be in stock with most fruit vendors and Vietnamese supers. Always-reliable veteran poster Das Ubergeek would be the one to narrow down the specifics on where to buy in Little Saigon.

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      Oh geez - no wonder why I never got a single mangosteen. I just asked her about them. I assumed that my wife enjoyed them - she said almost all were horrible. She tossed almost all of them - didn't want to hurt my feelings... Definitely try one before you buy a bag!

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        $20 for two pounds?! Porcamiseria, you poor guy.

                        Go to Thai Son or the one next to it (Tay Ngon?). They're on the SW corner of Bolsa and Magnolia, in a minimall with the ABC Supermarket about 1.5-2 miles east of the 405 on Bolsa or 1.5-2 miles north of the 405 on Magnolia (the 405 is oriented NW-SE at that point). I'm not sure if they're in season right now but if they are you shouldn't pay more than $6-$7 a pound.

                        You want to make sure that the skin is pliable. If the skin is hard, then the mangosteen is old and they're trying to foist it off on unsuspecting you; don't buy it in that case. If they won't let you touch the mangosteens, then you know what's going on and don't buy it.

                        If your quest is unsuccessful, Rosiepigs, you'll be in a plaza with a huge Vietnamese chow pedigree. Stop at the Banh Mi & Che Cali in that plaza to buy amazing banh mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwiches), $2.25 each and buy two get the third free. Or stop at Mi La Cay and get outstanding egg noodle soup, or go to Com Tam Thuan Kieu and get "broken rice" plates with your choice of great toppings. Catty-corner is Uyen Thy Bistro, good French-Vietnamese place with pretty good breakfasts (baked eggs and pate with airy Vietnamese baguette, etc.)

                        How to eat it: you might be able to peel it but I've used kitchen shears to cut through the purple rind along the fruit's equator. What's inside is off-white and juicy segments of flesh, both large and small. The large have an inedible seed which you can just discard after you eat the flesh around it; the small are just fruit and are slightly better-tasting than the large. They're the size of tennis balls, so think of them like slightly smaller peaches.

                        Thai Son
                        8922 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                        Uyen Thy Bistro
                        9039 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          I'm guessing on the price per pound as I didn't even pay attention to the price or weight. But I know it wasn't cheap. And man, I should have paid more attention since they ended up being pretty bad. I must have grabbed from the, "Oh they saw me comin'" pile. My only excuse was that I had three pounds of SB spot prawns in tow, and I knew I had to get back home to the Westside stat. Those were things of beauty.

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            i just searched and stumbled upon this thread. we would love to get our hands on some fresh ones. any locations in particular that actually have them now? we'll probably swing by tomorrw. THANKS!

                            1. re: jacknhedy

                              Aucune idée, sorry. I would suggest calling if you have a Viet speaker who can do it for you. Otherwise, take your chances. :)

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                das, that's a great idea. i bet i can request some of the guys at our local pho place to do that. keeping my fingers crossed....thanks.

                              2. re: jacknhedy

                                does it have to be in the OC?

                                cause i got a couple bags of mangosteen a few weeks ago at the 99 ranch in sg. they were great (and soft)! my mom and i almost finished a whole bag and i was barely up san gabriel blvd from valley.

                                more recently i got a box of rambutan at the arcadia branch. it wasn't that great, but it was still ok. kindof expected from this branch.
                                if it's worth adding, even though i paid more here, i got some great, large, and tasty dragon fruit while there. wohoo!

                                also, i'm actually surprised at the prices. they've gone down compared to a few years ago from when i remember them in little saigon. mangosteen is still pricey, but i'm not paying as high (nearly double) as i once did.

                                1. re: catbert

                                  Last I checked the going price was $5-$6 a pound. Has that changed, catbert?

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    yeah, that's about what i paid, but a few years back, it wasn't a surprise to see like $8 a pound more or less around little saigon.

                                  2. re: catbert

                                    catbert, thanks! we were in sgv a few weeks ago, and did not think to check the 99 ranch. bummer - i expected the vietnamese supermakrkets to have them, not 99. i'll call and check.

                                    i did see dragonfruit - but was hesitant, only because it was a bit pricey considering i had no idea how it tasted. when i asked one of the employees, she said it was bland. so how does it taste?

                                    1. re: jacknhedy

                                      Dragonfruit are overhyped. Save the money for the mangosteens.

                                      1. re: jacknhedy

                                        the vietnamese supermarkets are the more likely to have it, but when it comes to markets, things come in and out all the time. sometimes they do have them, but it's in unlikely spots. in the past i've seen at the hawaii supermarket (across from 99 ranch) mangosteen hung at the check-out stands. the market at the corner of valley and san gabriel blvd. put them in freezer boxes (think those freezer boxes you get individual popsicles) placed in the produce section. i don't think that's something i'd recommend...

                                        it's actually been quite a surprising summer to see 99 ranch carry these fruit more readily. usually they don't. big plus for convenience

                                        hands down finding a really good dragon fruit is hard! when you do, it's a light refreshing sweet. not as addicting as mangosteen's candy sweetness though. otherwise, yeah, it's bland and at that point, a textural thing due to all the seeds. if you're lucky, you can get a hint of the sweetness in a spoonful from the middle, but that's about it.
                                        like i said before, things come in and out of markets all the time. depending on the day, the sg 99 ranch puts them on sale for $1.99/lbs. regular price is about $5/lbs. i paid about $2.15 or $2.50 a lbs at the arcadia branch. the reason i caved was because there was a really big one (bigger than my two fists). ended up a good choice as the skin was thin and it was sweet all throughout.

                                        1. re: catbert

                                          Expect to see more and better dragonfruit in the next year or two; they have been showing up from more and more backyard growers at our local farmers' markets and now there are commercial plantations in Rancho Mission Viejo and near the 60/605 interchange.

                                          Dragonfruit isn't supposed to be a knock-you-over-the-head flavour. It's supposed to be a light, refreshing fruit. If you store it in the fridge and have it after a long period in the sun, you will fall in love.

                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                            that makes sense. i've seen the plant being sold at more stores and nurseries than before. i myself am trying to grow one (t'hee~!). california is a pretty good place to grow them (especially for being a cactus fruit), unlike mangosteen. i just wonder if there will be more varieties. i read online that there are, but i've never seen them around.

                                            ...although one might succumb to dragonfruit in the quest to find a really good one eventually. lol. i know i've eaten my share of pretty bland ones. but that's mass market super market produce for ya.

                                          2. re: catbert

                                            well, just wanted to say 'thanks' to all of you who've helped me track down a few. i remembered how if i asked in english most of the chinese employees would mistakenly think i was looking for mangos, i had to hunt down what it was in mandarin, so i had some fighting chance.

                                            called the 99 ranch in sgv. score! was told they have them, $6.99/lb. i also tried the other 99s, starting with the one i could almost walk to here in chino hills, but no luck, and zilch as well at rowland heights and even arcadia.

                                            anyways, since we had some time, my wife, daughter and i made a trip out there. we only bought one bag - with about 8-9 mangosteens in each. they looked a little small. of course, first thing we do after getting in the house was i took a knife, as it seemed a little hard. the white fleshy lobes were sweetly tart. all in all i'd give them a 4 out of 5. not bad at all...can't be too picky!

                                            ps - if any of you find some bigger and better ones, please let me know...

                                            1. re: jacknhedy

                                              glad you were able to get a bag. hopefully next time you'll get them when there's a better shipment. when i got mine, they were large and soft enough that i could open them with my hands (or maybe i was just too anxious to have them, lol!).

                                     add to the list of odd placements, saw mangosteens in a basket at the service/return counter, way far off from the produce section, at another market the other night.