Photo: Supannee_Hickman/Shutterstock

99 Ranch Market Has America’s Best Grocery Food Court. Here’s What to Eat.

Insider Guides Food + Drink
by Elisabeth Sherman Dec 13, 2019

That old maxim “never go to the grocery store hungry” needs to be retired. Going to the grocery store hungry is actually a brilliant idea — as long as you’re going to the right grocery store with the right food court. While some Americans might be under the impression that Costco’s basic pizza-hotdog-cheeseburger food court is all that’s out there, it’s time to broaden your horizons, folks. Enter 99 Ranch Market, which deserves an award for being the grocery store with the most epic food court.

The supermarket chain has 51 locations in seven states, including where I currently live, Jersey City, New Jersey. 99 Ranch Market is so much more than simple, convenient food that arrives on your cafeteria tray quickly. There are surprising flavors to be found here, like a small ramen restaurant, a bakery, a self-service dim sum bar, and a counter offering sliced and whole barbecue duck alongside beef noodle and wonton soup. It’s enough to make you want to skip the groceries and get right to the eating.

There are so many delicious options to choose from at the 99 Ranch Market grocery store that first-timers might feel overwhelmed. But navigating the many counters is easy with a guide. Here are all the crispy, rich, and filling dishes to try at the 99 Ranch Market food court. Just make sure you stop by on an empty stomach.

1. Dim sum

Make 99 Ranch Market’s dim sum counter your first stop in the grocery store. The selection is inexpensive and diverse, offering options like classic steamed pork buns and fried gyoza to shrimp shumai and blocks of jelly studded with fruit for dessert. Fill up a Styrofoam container with five pieces, and pay less than $8.

There are countless dim sum restaurants in Jersey City and nearby New York City, so what makes 99 Ranch Market’s offerings stand out? Pure convenience. Whether you’re picking up ingredients for dinner or stocking up on seasoning staples, stopping by the food court for dim sum after stalking the grocery store aisles is a balm for the soul.

2. Fried prawns

In the hot deli section of the food court, you’ll find platters of hot food served cafeteria-style, so you can build your own meal. There is a plethora of options available, like short ribs, sesame chicken, and chow mein. My favorite item in the hot deli, though, are the fried prawns. These lightly breaded little sea creatures are a satisfying, easy-to-eat snack. If you like shrimp crackers or always have a jar of shrimp paste in your pantry, you’ll love these prawns. That distinct ocean flavor paired with the familiar greasiness of a food court dish is oh-so satisfying.

Hot tip: Although heaping mounds of food into your styrofoam container might be tempting, make sure you only serve yourself the amount you plan on eating. Signs near the deli indicate that the grocery store is trying to cut down on waste.

3. Congee

A steaming hot bowl of rice porridge — otherwise known as congee — should be one of your go-to meals this winter. For fans of warming soups like pho and ramen, a bowl of congee is ideal in the rainy, snowy, and chilly winter months. Congee epitomizes simple, unfussy comfort food. It’s super filling and will return the warmth back to your frostbitten fingers if you stop by on an especially cold afternoon. You can choose from pork, scallop, or plain congee at 99 Ranch Market, but no matter which option you choose, there’s no better hunger cure.

4. Chinese sandwich with roasted duck

Head over to The King’s Village stall, where you’ll find skewers, wraps, and sandwiches. The Chinese sandwich is one of the most scrumptious items on the menu. A sesame bun filled with roasted duck and a handful of scallions is grilled in front of you and delivered in a Styrofoam container. It’s a more flavorful variation of a fast-food burger. The shredded duck has the earthy flavor and meaty texture of mushrooms, but the duck fat adds a delicious salty, gamey quality to this simple sandwich. For a cafeteria snack you can easily stash in your bag for a later-in-the-day quick lunch, the Chinese sandwich is really doing the most.

5. Egg tart

The bakery’s cases are stacked with frosted cakes, fruit tarts, and doughy coconut buns, so there is no shortage of options if you want to end your meal with sweets. Though these towering sugar confections are all impressive, the classic no-fail option is the egg tart. These bite-sized mini desserts are consistently tasty, if among the more basic desserts on the menu. The buttery, flaky crust paired with the smooth, slightly sweet egg custard is a delicate capper to an otherwise filling, even heavy, meal.

Discover Matador