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What to get at Super 88 (lunch and groceries)?

My sister (vegetarian) and I (non fish-eater) are planning a trip to Super 88 in Allston for lunch at the food court and to pick up some groceries.

I'm really eager to try the Bahn Mi. Any other recommendations.

And what about groceries? What is a particularly good deal at Super 88, or especially good there, or not available anywhere else?

I did do a search, but I didn't find much information on what specifically people like to buy there. Thanks!

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  1. Try the ramen at Ken's Ramen -- it's not in the food court but adjacent to it (from the parking lot, enter on the left side).

    1 Reply
    1. re: limster

      I second the rec for Ken's, though you might want to be careful to check if there's one your sister can eat-- ramen is almost always made with pork broth, it's usually not a very veg-friendly format. Banh mi is a good bet too. (Actually, all the food stands seem to have their following)

      If you cook veggies, it's a great place to stock up on leafy greens like ong choy, pea shoots, etc. (They do need careful cleaning) Also basil, hot peppers, fresh bamboo shoot, stuff like that.

      I usually get most of my cooking sauces and seasonings elsewhere, but beyond veggies, some super 88 staples in our house include jufran banana ketchup, youtiao (chinese fried dough, in the refrigerator case near the tofu), datu puti vinegar, barrio fiesta brand shrimp paste, little dried shrimps, soft dessert tofu, vacuum packed turnip cake and taro cake, rolled rice noodle, and I'm sure lots of things I'm forgetting. I guess neither of you is looking for fish, but I was excited to find that they recently started carrying frozen milkfish!

      The bakery section often has a little selection of goods from Yi Soon bakery-- or, you can walk over to Yi Soon and sample the goods directly :) (It's across the street and back towards Harvard a bit) . The cookie aisle is also lots of fun. I generally try to avoid chinese cookies these days (they tend to be incredibly high in hydrogenated fats), but am occasionally a sucker for some cookie rolls (roll cookies?). Good prices on Japanese cookies and candy, though the selection is a bit limited if you're looking for something in particular. I like the big vats of mini gel snacks, too.

      Things that require care: their frozen goods are often kind of old and freezery, esp. in categories like southeast asian things. I *do* recommend the frozen taro custard (thai), though-- it's the one they serve in Dok Bua, I think. I also often pick up frozen mochi balls, which can be boiled for a nice dessert

      One thing that I look at every time I'm there, but have never figured out what to do with: the bags of enormous ringing (singing?) snail chips. They seem to carry them very consistently, so I have to think there's a market for them! Anyone?
      (They live in exactly the spot where I'm somehow convinced a different household staple of ours that they don't carry *should* live, so I'm constantly eyeing them :) )

    2. You can always buy a durian, warm it up, crack it open and hide it under the seat of a friend's car.

      I buy some of their prepared foods. Tea-smoked eggs, what they call vegetarian goose (tofu and mushrooms) and spicy dried bean curd (not very spicy but delicious). They also have the normal chicken feet, gizzards and sliced pig ear, but your sister will not go for that.

      They have a lot of candy. I buy haw (hawthorn fruit) in various incarnations, including flakes (like Necco wafers) and "sandwiches." They have a vast assortment of dumplings in the freezer - some are vegetarian. They are currently out of my favorite steamed mushroom buns.

      Lots of canned and jarred goods mostly organized by country. I buy a couple of varieties of Vietnamese fish sauce.

      In the food court, Indonesian food is good. I love JMP, the Indian place. Actually, all the places are pretty good.

      4 Replies
      1. re: lergnom

        Speaking of candy, don't miss the Kasugai brand fruit gummies! The flavors are wonderfully intense, and the flavor descriptions are a hoot to read:

        "Every drop of fresh apple juice, carefully pressed from the reddest
        apples, shinning in colors of the cheeks of a snow-country child,
        is yours to enjoy in each soft and juicy Kasugai Apple Gummy."

        (I'm not making this stuff up.)

        Prav

        1. re: Prav

          Aside from picking up bulk herbs for next to nothing (huge packages of mint, basil, etc for $1.50) I always go crazy on candy at Super 88. My staple is Hi-Chews (think a cross between Bonkers and Starburst but where the sum of the parts makes it 10x better than either of the original). They also have this candy "whislters" in strawberry and "milk" flavor that are surprisingly tasty and really annoying to friends/family... they make a really loud noise. Just pick up anything that looks interesting.

          Other things to pick up: oyster sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce, packaged noodles, etc.

          1. re: heWho

            what happened to the lime hi-chews? haven't seen them in well over a year

        2. re: lergnom

          *You can always buy a durian, warm it up, crack it open and hide it under the seat of a friend's car.*

          HA! Thanks, needed that laugh. My roommate just bought one out of curiosity and before I could warn her, well...let's just say that she was surprised. :)

        3. Nice post another adam, some stuff I will try for sure. The dim sum inside the super market has a few nice items. I like their steamed pork bun and sticky rice in lotus leaf; everything else is a bit crude.

          In the food court the Indonesian stand is pretty good as is the roast meat stand and the dim sum stand.

          In Super 88 I also get fresh and dried noodles, green veggies (already mentioned) and fruit. They have one of the best tofu selections in town; I really liked the mock lamb tofu they had. On the candy front I love the sesame seed candies they have.

          When you are there I would definitely stop at Yi Soon a few blocks away for dessert as well.

          Yi Soon Bakery
          112 Brighton Ave
          Allston, MA 02134
          (617) 254-3099

          1. Lots of responses about lunch, so won't repeat.

            Super 88 tends to have great deals on some staples, especially rice. There are also a number of items that cannot be found in megamarts. Based on the dietary restrictions you mention, you may wish to try some of the vegetarian "meats." Items like vegetarian "chicken" and "duck" are made from different types of bean curd and, although they don't closely resemble their quoted inspiration, can be very good in dishes calling for meats.

            Beware that many of the frozen items (dumplings and such) that appear that they may be vegetarian may not be. Read the ingredients if they're in English.

            1. I make fresh spring rolls with tofu, shrimp or chicken depending on the guests...you don't have to go to 88, but everything you need is right there -- specifically: rice paper wrappers (dont get the extra thin), vermicelli noodles, and thai basil... as well as hosin sauce and chili garlic sauce

              recipe sorta here, use it as a base to fit your own tastes, but thai basil is a must: (http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...)

              1. My absolutely fav is the incredibly authentic dim sum stand. Albeit a bit pricier than what you would find at China Pearl or in Chinatown, the quality is stellar for dim sum fare and a lot less greasier.

                The bahn mi (vietnamese sandwiches) at the viet stand are in a class of their own - I've never had anything like them before. The ones I normally get have pate, mustard, cold cuts, etc while the ones sold here deviate with fresh grilled pork and sans pate/cold cuts. It's quite delish!

                I always frequent the Korean stand (the one next to the Indian place, not the grill stand) and their "Kimchi Tofu Stir-fry" is yummy (if kimchi is your kind of thing). The tofu is soft and delicate with a sweet/sour/slightly spicy medley of stir-fried kimchi.

                They don't anything really out of the ordinary for me but I do like the butcher in the back ; their meats are much fresher than what you would find in other western supermarkets around time (and probably cheaper too).

                8 Replies
                1. re: tarragonoxide

                  The dimsum stand is ok but 90% of the items are of the premade frozen variety and just heated up for you. You can buy many of them in the freezer case at super88.

                  I wasnt a big fan of the pho from the vietnamese stand. The korean is tasty. Also the chinese place in the back corner is very good.

                  1. re: hargau

                    Just curious, how do you know that the items are "premade frozen variety"?

                    1. re: paulgardner

                      I have been eating dimsum just about every weekend for the past 20 years. I have been to this place 6-8 times, i have never seen more then 5-6 people eating there. They have aprox 50+ items on the menu. Do you really think they are rolling out homemade dough and stuffing dumplings for those 5 people when they order? Or do you think every morning they make a stash of all 50 menu items to serve? Not possible. The places in ChinaTown serve hundreds if not thousands on a Sunday or Saturday AM. They also actually have less items i think then DimSumChef and are making the things by the hundred. At Dimsum chef many of their buns and dumplings i actually recognize from the packages and are obviously machine made not hand made. A person cant possible get every crease in a dumpling identical on each one! Still they are tasty and great in a pinch, just no comparision to a real dimsum restaurant. Im not saying this is the case with every item, just many that we ordered, im sure very popular items they make a batch and then keep them in the fridge or something and heat them.

                      1. re: hargau

                        Here's my question to you - why would they charge a ridiculous $2.85 for a plate of pre-made pork and chives dumpling while the other bigshots in Chinatown charge less? Wouldn't they attract more business with lower prices?

                        1. re: tarragonoxide

                          If i had to guess its because they have less volume so need to charge more to cover expenses. How much less is it really in Chinatown, not alot. Perhaps by a % its alot but still the stuff is an inexpensive meal no matter where you get it. I think only so many people come in there for dimsum, regardless what they charge. I have gone to dimsum chef with groups of 6-8 people and ordered 20 dishes but i dont think thats the norm there. I think its more a place for someone who is passing by or shopping at super 88 to grab a bite. I think all the places in the food court are reasonably priced. Anytime i have ever been there though there has been between 0-2 people in line at any stall. Only exception is the bubble tea stall, i think they make more money then anyone in that place, always a line and pretty pricey too.

                          Also stay away for any of the meal dishes they have that are over rice or wrapped in a leaf. We have tried several and they really are not very good at all, alot of dry plain white rice and not much else. The dimsum sticky rice in lotus leaf is fine though.

                          1. re: hargau

                            I'm not advertising the place nor endorsing it but here's my two cents:

                            I always go to this place to get their drinks and they are by far the best mostly because it takes 10 minutes for them to make them. They do all their drinks from scratch and not just a simple tea bag + creamer as you would normally get in cheesy Chinese bakeries (DSC has pre-brewed tea, probably filtered multiple times as is the preferred method for authentic HK milk tea).

                            Having roots in southern China, I have to disagree with you on the meal dishes. I've had many many awful lotus leaf/steamed rice dishes at other places and the ones made at DSC is true comfort food to me. Granted the idea of good food is all very subjective and fuzzy (as is with religion but so far no crusades in the name of good food), this Cantonese foodie votes for DSC.

                            They also have a lot of uncommon dishes (e.g., their White Chicken Feet, aka "White Cloud Phoenix's Claw" transliterated from Cantonese") which I highly doubt are pre-packaged.

                            This is all IMO btw but I'll investigate where and how they get their dim sum.

                            1. re: tarragonoxide

                              Yes of course, my views and comments are all just My Opinion as well. I have only tried 2 of the dishes on rice and didnt care for either. Braised beef brisket and the curry chicken. The chicken tasted good but there wasnt much of it. The brisket was 90% fat. The rice was just plain boring white rice. Perhaps we hit it wrong. Here are photos of the 2 dishes.

                              The shumai for one, tasted straight from the package. Other dimsums were much better and im sure they make some of them. Just no comparision to chinatown on a sunday though.

                        2. re: hargau

                          I am certainly no expert but as far as production, the big dim sum houses in Boston certainly have to produce far more than the Dim Sum Chef as they do serve hundreds if not thousands; the Dim Sum Chef has far less volume and therefore has to produce far less. In addition, although I don't eat dim sum every weekend, I have had it quite often from Empire Garden, Hei La Moon, Imperial Teahouse, China Pearl, etc and I find that the har gau, shrimp in rice noodle, and beef meatballs are close to the quality that I have found in Chinatown; the shu mai on the other hand, I have not been too fond of at the Dim Sum Chef. If the Dim Sum Chef serves frozen Shu Mai, Beef Meatballs and Shrimp wrapped in Rice Noodles, I would love to find out the brand they purchase because they are awfully good.

                  2. Your friend might like the masala dosa from the Indian place, and the Korean place right behind it had pretty good chicken bulgogi.

                    1. Thanks for all of the great responses! Now, should I expect lines at lunchtime? When would be a good time to go to avoid too much waiting? Thank you!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: fbf242

                        I honestly think the longest I've ever waited in line anywhere at Super 88 at lunchtime was maybe four or five minutes. There are so many options that there are only a few people at any given kiosk.

                        1. re: fbf242

                          Summer is a great time for dining at the Super 88 food court as there are far fewer college students around. During the school year, the lines are much longer.