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Trying to find the best ready-made Chinese 'zongzi' (粽子) to take home... Where to go buy?

I must admit, I had trepidations about starting this thread so soon after the recent ruinous "XLB vs. soup dumpling" war, for fears it might incite another Chinese food nomenclature battle...

But after I bought a really awful batch of Chinese zongzi (粽子) yesterday, I said to myself, "Screw it, I needs to ask my fellow Hounds." So here goes:

For the uninitiated, a bit of background info: Zongzi (the Wikipedia-designated term for this food item, for lack of a better vernacular phrase in common usage) are yummy clumps (or pseudo-balls) of packed steamed glutinous rice, either savory or sweet fillings & ingredients (salted pork, peanuts, or sweet red bean paste, for example), wrapped on the outside by bamboo or reed leaves. They are commonly sold, ready-made, at many various outlets in the San Gabriel Valley. They heat up quickly and can be enjoyed after the unwrapping of the leaves, thereby exposing the delicious core.

For years, I've been buying my zongzi mostly from the 99 Ranch Market's ready-made food section. It was always decent in authenticity & taste, but never spectacular. However, I never questioned it, instead thinking myself so blessed to even find this stuff in America for sale. Yesterday, I made my usual purchase of a bag of 3 zongzi, brought it home, heated one up, unwrapped it, and...

It sucked. I mean it was truly, truly terrible. The rice lacked any taste at all, the ingredients were unchopped, and the whole darn thing was essentially flavorless.

I could only surmise that this means the production of these zongzi has been outsourced by 99 Ranch Market to, well, not China, that's for sure (since it'd be much tastier if that was the case).

Bottom line: I need a new place to procure my ready-made zongzi to-go. Tasty, well-made ones (savory and sweet), please. I've had some success with the zongzi to-go at SinBaLa in the past. Any other places worth trying?

As always, Thanks in advance!

J.L.

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  1. I've only had the veggie one myself, but my mother-in-law usually gets them at I Fu Tang (in the Shun Fa / SG Superstore plaza).

    1. I used to buy from Mei Lin Tou Chiang. But since they have already closed, switched to Si Hai on Las Tunas.

      I buy the pork and mushroom kind. They also have the one with peanut and egg, if I am not mistaken.

      Can't complain too much since it satisfies my craving and don't want to buy from grocery's frozen section.

      1. I usually buy them from a shanghainese restaurant or Sinbala

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        Sinbala
        651 W Duarte Rd Ste F, Arcadia, CA 91007

        1. Come over to my house. We've got a garage freezer full of them.

          But I digress and no doubt violate the Chowhound Terms of Use.

          In any event, here are options to try, in no particular order, as I find that preferences in 粽子 vary widely.

          Four Seas (Si Hai)
          Cathy's Bakery
          I Fu Tang
          Yi Mei (Rowland Heights)
          Huge Tree Pastry
          Lu's Garden

          Generally, stick to Taiwanese places and you can't go wrong.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Which of those places do Tainan style "ba zhang"? That stuff is the shiznit. Lean pork, layered fatty pork, mushrooms, shallots, well seasoned sticky rice, dried shrimps, and dried fermented turnips 蘿蔔乾 which is vital to make it complete.

            1. re: K K

              None, by now probably.

              The Dragon Boat Festive (or 端午節) was more than a month ago (June 6). Places that make them to order usu. don't stock specialty ones that require lots of ingredients and prep time. If you find them now, they're pretty basic fillings (e.g. fatty pork, peanuts, 'shrooms)

          2. Thanks for the leads, everyone!