Try going to the Zion Market one day
By Judi Curry
As much as I hate to admit it, I have a birthday coming up at the end of the week. As a general rule I would just as soon forget the day and move right on to the next one.
Perhaps many of you know that I am a “host mother” to foreign language students in the US to hone their English skills. My latest student is the 413th student I have housed since 1992, when my husband and I began this adventure. I have had students from all over the world—each one unique in their own way—and with the exception of only three students that I asked to have removed from my home, it has been a wonderful experience.
Yuri, one of my two students right now, will be leaving me in March after being here for one year. Ever since she arrived she has been “threatening” to cook a Japanese meal for me. (Yes, I have cooked one for her – but she keeps saying “I will cook one for you.”) And apparently, now is the time for a great adventure.
She asked me if I would take her to the Japanese Super Market to purchase items needed for this feast. I asked her if she had ever been to the Ranch 99 market and she said she hadn’t so I suggested we go there to see if they had the items she wanted. They did not, but we passed “Zion Market” at 7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., (858-268-3300) on the way to Ranch 99 and she asked me if I had ever been there. I had not, and she said we had to try it because she knew I would like it. It is a Korean market, with a great deal of Japanese products available.
After making a U-turn on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. we pulled into the packed parking lot of Zion and had to fight to find a parking space. I was amazed when we walked in, for it is huge. Maybe not as big as Costco on Morena, but pretty close. And there were people of all ethnicities pushing big orange baskets throughout the crowded store. Every conceivable item that you could want was there, from regular market supplies to cosmetics, jewelry, insurance, cell-phones, fresh baked goods, produce, etc. The meat display stretched along one huge wall, and made an “el” along the next wall. There were meats I have never seen before, from thin slices of rib-eye steak to packages of drummets, to duck fat, to pork bellies, etc. It is rather odd because one thing that Yuri wanted to buy – whipping cream – could not be found at either Ranch 99 or at Zion’s. Yes, both had the ersatz kind in a can, but for whatever she is planning there was not the liquid form of whipping cream.
When we arrived at the produce section I thought for a moment or two that I was back at the “Berkeley Bowl” in Northern California. The display of veggies and fruit was astounding. And, again, there were items that I have never seen before. For example, I frequently buy red radishes for salad; I frequently purchase Daikon for sushi or sashimi; but there was a display simply called “radish”—huge, white, and shaped like a light bulb. And 7 pounds for $1.00. (I think that one of them probably weighed close to 3 pounds.)
And the prices – yesterday I was at Ralph’s and bought one bunch of green onions (scallions) for 99 cents. At Zion they were 3 for 99 cents! I paid 79 cents a pound for bananas at Ralphs; I paid 59 cents a pound for bananas at Zion. I paid 99 cents for a small cucumber at Ralphs and bought a huge one at Zion for 69 cents! Yuri bought 13 items, including Sliced Beef Rib Eye, a sweet potato that weighed 1.32 pounds that cost $1.04, blueberries and mangoes and the total bill was $17.57! The store was clean, produce was fresh, and there were several employees restocking the shelves as fast as people were buying the items.
The receipt offers a “money back guarantee” if not completely satisfied with the purchases, up to 7 days of the original purchase, with the exception of meat, fish, produce and dairy products, which must be returned within two days of purchase if a problem exists.
Even if Yuri does not cook me a birthday dinner tomorrow night, the experience of shopping at the Zion was wonderful. I am sure that the adage “like a kid in a candy store” had to apply to me, for I was in awe of the offerings of this market.
Without question I suggest that you try it sometime soon. Shop there just to shop; shop there because you are depressed and want a “pick-me-up”; shop there because you want something new and exciting; shop there because you like bargains. I am pretty sure you will run into me there, because even if it is 15 miles away from me in Ocean Beach, it is worth the trip. Have fun!
Photo credits: Judi Curry