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Question about 99 Ranch - Clairemont Mesa

i just stopped in there this afternoon for the first time, and i've gotta say, the place *reeked.* honestly the odor was so offensive i questioned whether or not i even wanted to purchase something there that i was actually going to eat. is it always like that? i've never found a similar problem at Mitsuwa, Nijiya or H-Mart...

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  1. I have not been able to determine a cause and effect of market stinkyness. The Japanese markets never really have a bad order, but most items are packaged and not quite as exposed as the other markets. The 99 Ranch ranks on the lower end of my smelly markets, maximum funk can be had at Seafood City, and sometimes Lucky Seafood. All depends on the day I guess. Couple of weeks ago I almost lost my cookies at Seafood City right in the aisle, but the last couple of visits have been just fine. The old Vien Dong in LV was quite ripe at times. I imagine it's probably one or two items bringing the funk and not an overall indicator of quality.

    1 Reply
    1. re: stevuchan

      "I imagine it's probably one or two items bringing the funk and not an overall indicator of quality."
      ~~~~~~~
      that's what i kept telling myself. but with fish funk on one side and grade school hallway vomit stench on the other, i won't be going back anytime soon.

    2. The vietnamese markets are the worse offenders. 99 Ranch wasn't as bad, but apparently it has slipped.

      1. "reeked" in a funky way or "reeked" of Chinese herbs, dried fish and old vegetables? Kind of like what you smell walking around the Chinatowns in SF and NY? All the Chinatown markets I went to in the past always smelled of something, usually laced with mothballs and Chinese herbs. I thought I was missing something when 99 Ranch didn't smell.

        4 Replies
        1. re: daantaat

          Chinatown smells like a field of wildflowers compared to this. it was definitely bad funky - i can handle Chinese herbs and dried fish. this was worse than durian, fermented bean products, or the smelliest herbs i've ever encountered.

          i noticed a really strong odor of spoiled fish it as soon as i entered the store, even though the seafood displays are a good several hundred feet away from there. the rest of the place had that smell we all remember from school when someone threw up in the hallway and the janitor dumped that sandy stuff over it.

          the place *looks* extremely dingy and unsanitary too. i left there feeling like i needed a shower! i think i'll stick with Mitsuwa.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Yes, 99 has definitely gotten worse over the years. When they first opened I use to joke with my ex-gf about how the Vietnamese markets always stunk while the Chinese market stayed surprisingly stench free. This was years ago. I recently ventured into 99R a few weeks ago, and it smelled terrible.

            I recently went into a Tuan Phat/Shun Fat market in Westminster, and it was huge, and relatively clean smelling. I know they have several markets in San Diego (Linda Vista, took over the old Vien Dong I believe) so maybe give them a try? No guarantee though, as I have not stepped into them myself.

            1. re: deeznuts

              thanks for the tip! Mitsuwa serves its purpose for now, but if i need to expand my horizons i'll venture to one of the Tuan Phat/Shun Fat locations.

          2. Yeah the smell of fish and meat near the counters in the back is pretty bad. The SD branch of 99 Ranch seems to be especially bad, but maybe because its on the old side. The 99 Ranches in Irvine are much cleaner and fragrance free but they are fairly new. In another 10 years they might smell like the one in SD.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mliew

              Agreed. I don't remember the ones near LA to be as bad as the one in SD. I stopped going nearly 3 years ago - but occasionally stop there to pick up some specialty items, and suddenly remember why I don't shop there regularly.

              1. re: hye

                Yeah the SD one is also a mob scene on the weekends. There's so many people there you can barely walk through the aisles. I guess its because theres only one in the whole county of SD. I don't understand why they don't build a couple more in the area. It definitely seems like demand is there. Perhaps they don't think the asian population is concentrated enough anywhere else in SD to justify it.

            2. thanks for all the feedback - glad to know it's not just me!

              1 Reply
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                It scared the crap out of me. But I use the chicken parts for stock and the dungeness crabs and blue claw crabs have been right on, so I split my brain and deny the logic of my smells when the price and taste end up working.
                Not so logical but it works for me!