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Super88 Allston Status Update

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As the other Super88 thread ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/563123 ) was getting to be a bit unwieldy I decided to start a new one.

Status update, the good:

- Well they actually do seem to be staying in business, and the previous post that they are expanding the food court seems to be correct. They have essentially lopped off the front quarter of the grocery store and are already converting it into space that can probably house 2-5 more food stalls. The new layout actually makes sense. That alone is a huge plus; any additions to the already awesome food court could be interesting.

- The old configuration was a bit of a sprawl anyway. It really did waste a lot of space.

- Shelves are being restocked. E.g. they had 2-3 different sized of Sriracha, they had kimchee and some tofu products. The fruits and veg were very well stocked.

Status update the not so good:

- Their little counter with the amazing steam buns and sticky rice in lotus leaf seem to be gone for good. So sad.

- I fear that the selection of yore may be gone forever. Lots of Lee Kum Kee products, not the breadth and depth of the past. Could not find my favorite raisins, still not stocking the funky spiced vegan mock meats I really liked in the tofu section.

In summary, they are getting back up to speed. Time will tell how well stocked they get when they are fully done with the renovation.

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  1. And they HAVE been bought by C-Mart; this from the owner of Uncle Cheung's....She said they've been having a hard time getting fish heads due to the renovations!

    14 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl

      Years ago we used to sell piles of fish heads to Stop & Shop. They no longer carry them.

      1. re: Richard Hurts

        Surprisingly I saw salmon heads for sale at my local Stop & Shop this past weekend. My first time I recall ever seeing them, but I haven't really looked for them at Stop & Shop before.

        1. re: kobuta

          I see salmon heads there a lot, but I don't like to make stock from them, too stinky and oily....They'd probably work for Fish Head soup, tho...

          1. re: galleygirl

            Chopped and then steamed with ginger and black beans though - fabulous! The way my mom typically makes them (and other fish heads).

            1. re: kobuta

              Just chopped in half, or chopped in pieces?
              Just realized, I think it was Shaw's I saw they at, too, not Stop and Shop....

              1. re: galleygirl

                Depends on the size of the fish head, but usually quarters work well for salmon heads. You want to be able to get at all the little bits of meat and "good stuff", so the smaller size helps, but not so small that you get something akin to minced meat.

                Oh, and with some soy sauce and a tiny bit of oil to that.

                1. re: kobuta

                  Oh yum; I'm definitely going to try it as soon as I see some again; and on a night I'm not cooking for the Commodore, tho he did admit the stewed fish head we had in Kyoto was the best meal of our trip to Japan!

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Sounds delish. I realize I keep missing parts of my ingredients - black bean, garlic (essentially, black bean sauce), ginger, soy sauce and a bit of oil. I wouldn't use the ready made black bean sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand or otherwise) as I find them too salty, and also too wet for this dish. If you have the dried black beans from any of the markets, they work much better and you can just sprinkle them over the cut up fish head.

                    1. re: kobuta

                      Yup, I use those, and basically the ingredients you've named, to do a steamed salmon, so applying the same ingredients to the fish head sounds delightful!

          2. re: kobuta

            I saw them at the Packard's Corner Star last night too.

        2. re: galleygirl

          If C-Mart has bought out Super 88, they must plan to leave at least the Allston store under its own brand rather than turning it into a C-Mart. There's quite a lot of new signage that features the Super 88 logo.

          1. re: Allstonian

            She said they bought the one at South Bay as well...

            1. re: galleygirl

              I haven't been to the South Bay store, since I don't have a car and live four blocks from the Allston store. I'm just reporting what I've seen in Allston.

              1. re: Allstonian

                Yes, I've seen th big new sign, too. I guess it makes sense to own two chains....

        3. I'm glad they are staying in business, but I can buy Lee Kum Kee and taste of thai at Stop and Shop. I gave in and bought my Sriracha there, too.

          I hope we see better from them come spring and summer.

          1. Regarding the steam bun counter, what about the fridge with cakes? I like the "Swiss Roll" cakes from them.

            Thanks for the update. I gave up on them, so I went to Chinatown on MLK day and stocked up at C-Mart and Ming's. Bought several jars of bamboo shoots in chili oil, low-sodium soy sauce, char siu sauce, hot sesame oil etc, which should last me for 6 months. Hopefully the new and improved Allston88 will be ready by then!

            1 Reply
            1. re: y2000k

              Dunno if the cake fridge is coming back, but the swiss roll-style cakes at Yi Soon Bakery -- a couple blocks away, near the corner of Brighton and Linden, next to Infusions Tea Spa and across the street from Jo Jo Taipei -- are both far superior and dirt cheap.

            2. The selection is not that shrunken and the aisles now are divided by country. The actual grocery space is close to what they had before, with most of the loss being the empty space they always had and the shrinking of the giant freezer bins that were at the back of the store. I'm disappointed the meat counter is just a display now, not an actual counter manned by people who don't speak any English.

              They did not have winter mushrooms today, which is almost the first time ever, and that sucked. They did have Jaffa clementines, which are sooooo good.

              6 Replies
              1. re: lergnom

                How many feet devoted to ramen noodles and how many brands? Just curious. The South Bay used to have tons of brands and loads of space. Now they offer just a few and some you can get at Stop and Shop.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Sorry. Don't eat that but I'll be there in the next few days and I'll try to look more. They don't have my favorite sour fish paste but they do have small bottles of fish sauce, of a size that fits better in the fridge, which is important when you don't pour it on everything.

                  1. re: lergnom

                    THANKS!

                    I got a real job and stopped existing on ramen decades ago but there are a few brands that 88 carried that are really excellent. Great hangover food.

                    Of course they are the ones they dont stock now.

                    I know the sour fish paste you speak of and will check Kam Man for it. Probably will go there this weekend. I don't think fish sauce needs to be refrigerated. I have 2 big bottles open and they live on the counter.

                    1. re: C. Hamster

                      My wife insists on putting it the fridge. It isn't necessary.

                      1. re: lergnom

                        I was in the store today. Aisle 7 is instant and dried noodles, both the plastic wrapped and the bowl kind. From Thailand, China, Taiwan, Japan & Korea. Many had no English characters. Lots of brands. I was glad to see they have dried bean curd wrapper.

                        1. re: lergnom

                          Tnx. I ended up stocking up at Kam Man.

                          I got sidetracked helping people find something when I was scouring the Thai/Viet aisle for sour fish paste.

                          Kam Man is still well stocked.

                          Will try to look closely next time.

              2. Does anyone know what's with this new perponderance of Lee Kum Kee products? Lately, I've noticed this at other Asian grocers in the area (i.e. Kam Man, Battambang, Ming's), they seem to be stocking a lot more Lee Kum Kee, and a lot less of brands like Yeo's, Liu Bi Ju, and Pearl River. Is it just my imagination?

                2 Replies
                1. re: qianning

                  Lee Kum Kee is huge. They probably give a big discount if a store buys many or most things from them. I am generally NOT a huge Lee Kum Kee fan though some of their products are fine. Classic case of big guy trying to muscle out the little guys.

                  1. re: qianning

                    I imagine it's much easier to procure Lee Kum Kee brand, since they have two offices in the US to facilitate distribution vs. having to deal with overseas offices or other middlemen to import the other brands. Even though gas and oil prices have dropped, sadly I have not noticed a considerable drop in commodities that were marked up due to increase in shipping costs over the last year or so.

                  2. i stopped by there last week and was quite disappointed, actually. vegetables weren't well stocked, their current vegetable section is about 1/5 the size of the old one. things they did NOT have that i regularly look for (sorry i don't know the english names of all of these)
                    - 空心菜
                    - good, whole 丝瓜
                    - 冬菇 (a type of mushroom)
                    - 韭菜花
                    - eggplants
                    - 苦瓜 (bitter melons)

                    as far as sauces, there is no longer any preservative-free soy sauce (the kind that you should refrigerate after opening) which i like for the health outlook of not using sodium benzoate all the time. there also is no respectable selection of 豆瓣酱, no 花椒, no 朝天辣椒, fermented black beans, no chilli oil, basically absolutely nothing of the traditional ingredients of sichuan cuisine.

                    also missing which they used to carry are 萝卜糕, thai curry pastes, and various other southeast asian things.

                    other things i used to frequently buy from super 88 a few years ago like durian ice cream, red bean mochi, and other good things were also still gone. c'mon, how can they forget about ice cream!

                    i still go to 金门超市 and c-mart, super 88 really is nowhere near as good as it was 3 years ago. in short, i'm disappointed for now, and feel the smaller space will be inadequate to get back to what it used to be, but let's see ...

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: yuanzhoulv

                      I was there last night. While the space is better utilized and the shelves have products on the shelves, the overall selection is considerably less than before. I also found that the kinds of veggies and fruits were not as plentiful in the past (not just because it's NYE since there were no really empty spots in the bins, just less bins with less produce).

                      I had a hard time finding things and didn't have as much time to search. But, I also didn't see the fermented black beans, dried rice vermicelli, different brands of sauces (just the LKL), etc.

                      On the plus side, they had in stock, my favorite kind of fresh noodles. Although, they didn't have my favorite kind of dumpling wrapper (which put a kink into my new year plans). I have hopes for the wrappers though, I think I did my shopping too late for that.

                      I'm still willing to go back but I hope they get more variety in goods. If not, I'll have to do my c-town or Ming's shopping which just isn't as convenient for me.

                      1. re: beetlebug

                        Based on the pre-new years crowds at Kam Man on Saturday, I really think a lot of the suburban Chinese community has migratred to shopping there. Kam Man on a weekend day, or before a Chinese holiday now feels like Super 88 in South Bay or Allston did a few years ago. Anyway, on Saturday not only was it PACKED with shoppers, but the staff were doing a pretty good job of keeping the shelves in various departments well stocked.

                        1. re: qianning

                          I went there on Saturday, too.

                          It had everything that Super 88 doesn't.

                          Along with a newly-robust selection of all things Lee Kim Kee.

                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            Yes, as discussed LKK is taking over a lot of shelf space, but at least Kam Man still has the full range of Pearl River Brand, and Liu Bi Ju. And sausage/meat counters, fish counter, bakery and "fresh" pickles are the best I can find in the area. So for Chinese I go to Kam Man, for Southeast Asia Battambang in Lowell.

                          2. re: qianning

                            Ha, I was also at Kam Man on Saturday... I had never seen it so busy before. We parked in a section of the parking lot that I didn't know even existed. We lost our mother three times during that one shopping trip...

                            I was sad that the brand of mon-tohs (not sure what they are called in English, but plain white rolls that you steam) and red bean pancakes (like scallion pancakes but red bean) were out, but otherwise the shelves seemed to be packed full.

                            1. re: taterjane

                              We had to park out by the Mohegan Sun busses!

                              And forget the produce aisle, Saturday. It was insanity. That said, their produce was head and shoulders above 88.

                      2. Went to Super 88 in Allston today to check the progress of the "renovation" and noticed some improvements. They confined the space a bit more by pushing everything a little further back, including the cash registers. It also appears that they are hoping to lease out the newly created space in the front of the market. Possibly more food vendors? Everything is fully stocked and more organized overall (new signs above). I hope they fix up the seafood section and and just make it look more inviting... There were also plenty of managers pointing, talking, and taking inventory which is always a good sign. I had steered away from going here for the last couple months while it was in flux, but it looks like I will be returning regularly with the new improvements. However, I beg them to get rid of that indescribable smell

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: mkap21

                          stopped by today, after giving up a while ago due to the seeminly perpetual rearrangement and shoddy selection.

                          there was a smashed up minivan wedged into the bathroom at the end of the hallway rapm thing to the store. had to step over some broken glass and police tape. after risking arrest, they didnt even have rice! just a couple 20 pound bags, but no 1/5/10 pounders at all of any variety to speak of . super88 without rice? lol?

                          a matter of time before allston gets h-mart, and they realize the writings on the wall if they don't shape up, like c-mart/sunsun c-town pwnage. not that chinatown is gonna exist in 10 years besids a few roast-duck/dimsum places, thats besides the point

                          1. re: ix9

                            What's your info source on H-Mart?
                            Any word on the Burlington site? It's been quiet around there for months.
                            Where in Allston is H-Mart planning to open?

                            1. re: peregrine

                              H-mart is not opening in Allston. They're opening a store out in Burlington at some undetermined point in the future.

                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                I am keeping my paws crossed but from what I hear it's not happening soon.

                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                  Maybe they're playing opening-date chicken with Wegmans!

                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                    With or without the liquor license drama?

                        2. I spoke to the Allston store manager today and he said the rumors of them being bought out by C-mart are completely false. The Luu's still own 100% of the stores... he is actually the nephew of Peter Luu, the man who started the stores 20 years ago. They did go through some financial issues over the summer, but they have a brand new business plan that was implemented a month ago with the renovation of the Allston and South Bay stores. According to him, despite all of the work and the stores being torn apart, they've been profitable since November. Just figured I'd share... He said he's aware of all of the misinformation on blogs like this.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: jiggaman3423

                            what is up with getting rid of cashiers. At least let people pay without making it seem like whole foods before the holidays. They had lines snaking from the cash registers all the way to the frozen foods two weekends ago. Vegetables still remain sparse compared to old and I sorely miss the real meat counter they used to have. I also bought a quart of milk there that wound up being previously opened, so I dumped it and was too lazy to go back just for that.

                            1. re: chefboyardee

                              I actually bought some fish that was fresh there last week, compared to the muddy tasting stuff they usually have, but getting served at the fish counter was a learning experience in what life in Stalinist Russia must have been like. Last time, I just gave up and left. Lots of fresh tofu, but not a lot of fresh veggies, as others have mentioned. It's always hit or miss here; I think they get their stuff the same place and expiry dates that the vendors at Haymarket do!
                              And, yeah, two cashiers....

                            2. re: jiggaman3423

                              I talked to one of the managers last night and he confirmed with me only 3 Super 88 is being kept and others sold to C-mart. He said that the family felt betrayed by the staffs over the payroll mess and the subsequent state's big fine issue. The people working wanted only cash or half-cash or half payroll time so they can keep their government subsidized housing and Masshealth; then when things don't go their way they turn in the boss. The family then just lay off some 50 people because then they no longer trust any of them. That's their side of the story from their own mouth in the 10 minutes I was able to talk to him.

                              As for the old Chau Chau, rent was being raised to $20,000/month so they said 'screw it' and left. Now the building owner has no taker and called them back again but they said 'no thanks!'

                              1. re: joebloe

                                Chau Chau City is closing? The restaurant, or are you talking about the super 88 that was next to the restaurant?

                            3. I was there last week and I was shocked by the appearance of the store. I could not find anything as everything was moved. The inventory was so low that I had to go to another Asian Market in Brookline village to find what I was looking for. I hope it's going to get better because I was stunned with the way it looked.

                              1. I was in yesterday and for me the biggest difference is the reduction in the extent of the meat department. The fish counter looks as big as ever, but I went in looking for a quantity of duck legs to confit and found only frozen (which I did get, and they came out OK). Curiously, they had huge packs of fresh duck wings, but no other fresh duck parts whatsoever. Go figure...

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: BobB

                                  I never realized they had fresh duck legs. Have never seen them before, even Dewars does not have fresh legs, or they never did when I needed them. That actually was what I was looking for when I went to super 88 and they did not even have the frozen legs. Found a wholesale joint in the food mart that would sell me a case however, thank god, b/c it would have cost me a fortune at Dewars. And I also did confit, about 40 lbs of it. My doctor is not going to like to hear that!

                                  1. re: chefboyardee

                                    Savenor's usually has fresh duck legs, and of course also rendered duck fat for $5 a pound. I wasn't sure whether Super 88 would have them fresh or not, but I did find it odd that they would have so many fresh duck wings (a good-sized pile of multi-pound packages of them!) but only frozen legs. I really want to know what happened to the rest of those ducks!

                                    1. re: BobB

                                      A massive batch of Peking Duck?

                                      1. re: Allstonian

                                        Duck feet at Dim sum....

                                        1. re: galleygirl

                                          They did have packages of fresh chicken feet, which I know are used in dim sum, but no duck feet. Are duck feet also a dim sum item?

                                          1. re: BobB

                                            Yup. I have even had boned duck feet (no small trick to bone a duck foot). They are a bit like snappy noodles, sort of like pig's ear or tendon.

                                2. I was there yesterday. They had 8 bottles of sriracha sauce!!!!

                                  Still, it's a shell of its former self and I find that sad.

                                  Can someone please tell me why Ken's Ramen is always closed? Is that permanent?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    They are usually closed on Wed. (I found out the hard way)

                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                      Darn. I'm in the neck of the woods only on Wednesdays!

                                      Thanks

                                    2. re: C. Hamster

                                      They had a full shelf a week before so they sold a lot. In different sizes.

                                    3. I used to go to the Allston Super88 for several common Korean ingredients, but when I was there at the beginning of February, there was no kimchee (sold out maybe?) and no LETTUCE. Seriously, what produce department stops carrying any lettuce?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: phipsi102

                                        Have you tried John's Market (I think that's the name) for Korean ingredients? It's on Linden Street just off of Brighton Avenue, around the corner from Spike's Hot Dogs - only a few blocks down Brighton Avenue from the Super 88. Several people on this board have raved about their prepared foods.

                                        1. re: Allstonian

                                          Thank you and yes, I love John's. They are fully stocked, CLEAN, and very friendly. I've been making a point to buy everything I can from them, in fact i went there today for fresh ginger and rice wine. I used to go to the 88 because it was a one-stop-shop for everything i needed, korean or otherwise. Now that it's not any more, John's for Korean, and Russo's for everything else!

                                      2. Has anyone seen the new shelves in Allston? They look great... things are a lot better organized.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jiggaman3423

                                          Are you serious? I was there just last week and was sad to see how sparse everything was. I was unable to get what had always been plentiful to find. My friend told me I should go to a place called Mings.

                                        2. Is there any truth to the rumor that Super88 will occupy the space in the old Star Market on Broadway in Somerville? We could use one up here!!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: winecafe95

                                            i stopped in for a quick shop so didn't get to look at everything but it was beginning to look much better, with shelves organized by country, the live fish tanks up - didn't check the product section. i think its going to be ok and i'm looking forward to having it back in action.

                                            1. re: teezeetoo

                                              I had lunch there today. The food court is as great as ever. Took a quick tour of the supermarket, and it looked pretty good, too.

                                          2. I was there yesterday. Where the cash registers were at the front, is a barren wasteland, a good 60 feet of empty space, with partitions on both sides. The whole place has been repainted, and looks a lot more... Americanized? Produce is half its former size, no butcher in the back, just a cooler of packaged meats, still fish on ice, and tanks of live fish. Coolers are half their former size as well, as mentioned above, selection is way down, the national brands, Lee Kum Kee etc are well represented, but where can't we get them?

                                            This must still be a work in progress, there are still items in carts and pallets from being moved. As long as the food court is there and unchanged, I'll keep returning, but I walked out of the market emptyhanded yesterday.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: okra

                                              In the thread above is discussed the fact that they are planning to expand the food court into that empty space.

                                              I do agree that the available food items are GREATLY reduced.

                                              1. re: okra

                                                Yeah- the big empty area is going to be an expanded food court. No word on date of opening - it just says "coming soon."

                                              2. I've been on the road a lot lately and hadn't stopped in for quite a while-- finally went today to see how things were doing, and was shocked at how little I was able to find there.

                                                The bad:
                                                - Produce much reduced, and what is there is generally worse quality than I remember. (Could easily vary day to day, though)

                                                - Some new things from Singapore, but practically no filipino items any more. Need a new source of bagoong, kare mix, ligo products, spicy vinegar, and patis (The do still have plain datu puti suka, and small bottles of jufran sauce) :( I realize that the combination of kamman and sure foods have these, but without a car, these will be hard to get now...

                                                - Even things like instant noodles are kind of sorry selection (hardly any of the larger fancier multi-stage "noodle system" korean or japanese style). Tea is really limited now, too.

                                                - Very limited rice selection (good rice is getting quite hard to find around town... sigh...)

                                                - Prices are surprisingly high on many items now. (around 50% higher on many bottled/canned items?)

                                                The good:
                                                - A couple more Korean items than in the past? (Or maybe just assembled more systematically). Variety of gochujang, dwenjang, yuja cha, etc. Of course, there's also John's/Cheongjeong nearby, but their prices are so ridiculously high that I rarely stop by there any more...

                                                - Incipient selection of Badia spices and other hispanic products, more prominent than in the past?. (Sadly, my favorite malaysian curry powder is AWOL, though.)

                                                - When I mentioned the almost complete lack of filipino products on check-out, after getting the magical incantation "renovating! renovating!", they actually offered to mention it. Never had a helpful conversation with anyone who has worked there in the past!

                                                All around, I ended up not finding most of what I went for, and left with very little. They might still be fine for Chinese products, but that's not my main interest and I like CMart for those anyway... Not sure I'll be stopping by much, unless I want the food court, too.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: another_adam

                                                  yes, i went there yesterday, it is horrible.
                                                  on the other hand, CMart seems to be getting a little better. they even carry good 郫县豆瓣 and better brands than before of 花椒 now in their larger store near South Station, which is a good fraction of the reason i was going to Kam Man before. let's hope they start to carry some more stuff ... still running all the way to Kam Man for 凉粉, better brands of bottled chilli oil (i'm lazy to make that), 芽菜, 酸菜 made without sugar, and other regional things ...

                                                  1. re: yuanzhoulv

                                                    I just went there today. It's under new management and it is going to be renamed "Hong Kong Supermarket". They are still putting in new shelves and have a ton of goods on pellets waiting to be loaded. I talked to the guy running the show there, and he said that they should be done with all the work in about two weeks. We'll go back in Sept and check it out. Anything will be better than what it was like.

                                                    1. re: firstian

                                                      firstian, I'm a little confused with all these posts people are making referring to Super88, CMart, and Kam Man. Are you saying the Super88 in Allston is being renamed Hong Kong Supermarket? And is Kam Man is Quincy? Thanks!

                                                      1. re: CookieLee

                                                        The Super88 in Allston has little poster everywhere that says "Hong Kong Supermarket is coming soon." The manager-like guy I spoke to said there is new management.

                                                        Kam Man is at Quincy (with a China Pearl in the same strip mall). The groceries section is almost twice as big as the Allston Super 88, with a bakery, cooked food, and the "BBQ" section. On the other side of the same building is the cookware, daily goods section, almost just as big. I was quite impressed by the quality of the produce of Kam Man. It's just a bit far for me to go every week.

                                                        C-Mart is just outside Chinatown. I've only been there once, as the parking is awful in Chinatown.

                                                        My kids go to Chinese school, and we've done a "survey" to see which one is the most popular. Kam Man wins hands down.

                                                        1. re: firstian

                                                          I grew up in Quincy, and my mom still lived there until she passed away 5yrs ago. I'm v. well aquainted w. Kam Man, and yr kids are right! I just thought ppl might have been referring to another Kam Man, hence my confusion. TY for the clarification.

                                                      2. re: firstian

                                                        Good to hear - I was in there a couple of weeks ago at which point the shelves were nearly bare and there were no signs yet about new name/new management, and definitely no pallets of new stuff. I was afraid it was finally going under altogether and I'd have to schlep down to Chinatown to shop for Asian goodies.

                                                        1. re: firstian

                                                          Is it just the Allston store that's under new management?

                                                          I quit going to South Bay because it got so pathetic ...

                                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                                            Malden too (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/644771), but I don't know about South Bay.

                                                    2. I was there last night and there were TONS of stuff going into shelves.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: daikon

                                                        Stopped in to poke around this afternoon. The staff are now at a stage that I recognize all to well from doing similar full-store reconstructions at my dad's store when I was a teenager: they're just sort of dazed, with this look in their eyes that says "Oh my god, we're never gonna get all this stuff on the shelves."

                                                        I suspect they're using a different set of wholesalers, because there are full brand lines I never saw Super 88 carry, as well as single items that Super 88 never had...including Klim, a Nestle brand of dry whole milk, which I use in my homemade yogurt, so it's going to be awesome just having to walk up the block for a new canister instead of having to go out to Moody Street.

                                                      2. Popped in yesterday just to pick up some cilantro (Star had run out) and the difference from my last visit three weeks ago was spectacular! Almost all the shelves are full to bursting. The fish department is greatly improved, there were several types of live fish in the tanks as well as a basket of live (albeit rather sluggish) blue crabs, a half-dozen types of shellfish on ice, and a decent selection of fillets..

                                                        The meat department is still somewhat sparse (no duck at all except for frozen duck feet) and the produce section far smaller than before the remodel, but on the whole, very encouraging progress!

                                                        They even seem to have improved the lighting, the whole store seemed much brighter than I remembered from recent visits.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                          i was also there yesterday and was very impressed with the meat department as well as the store in general. a vast improvement from my last visit only a few weeks ago. perhaps you came later in the day because i saw plenty of frozen duck legs, duck tongues, and duck feet in the freezer chest

                                                          1. re: galangatron

                                                            I was there around 7PM. They must have sold out of duck legs by then as I was specifically looking for them, the vat of duck fat in my fridge is crying out to make confit.

                                                        2. I hit it yesterday and they were in the midst of some SERIOUS restocking. Keeping my fingers crossed.

                                                          1. I was there yesterday, too. Vast improvement over my last time there. Prices seem a little higher than Super88, though. Lobster was something like $7.88/lb.

                                                            I'm hoping that they will stock fresh rice noodles. They didn't have any yesterday.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: bear

                                                              Can anyone reflect on the amount of Thai food items on the shelves? When I was there in early August, it seemed that there were mostly Chinese and Japanese items and a derth of things for Thai cooking.
                                                              Thanks!

                                                              1. re: Stellar D

                                                                Hard to say as it is total chaos right now.

                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  Yeah, they're nowhere near done restocking the shelves. Give it a couple weeks. That said, I did see multiple kinds of fish sauce.

                                                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                                    I dropped by today - my excuse was the need for a bahn mi fix at the food court. Clearly there is plenty of restocking left to do, but all in all I was positively impressed by what i saw. The store is brighter and cleaner than what I remember from my last visit, many months ago. The produce was mostly pretty decent. The aisles, many still being restocked and/or switched around from their old configurations, now have signs hanging over them. There definitely was a smallish Thai section, with Maesri and Mae Ploy chili pastes, an assortment of Thai sauces, and some other Thai items. It is definitely a smaller selection than what was there in the Super 88 glory days, but there definitely is a selection of basic Thai items.

                                                                    1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                      That's good to hear! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a return of some filipino items. There used to be a few (kind of paltry selection, but some of our most basic needs, anyway). However, at some point early on in the degeneration/"renovation", they disappeared completely. C-Mart doesn't have anything like that, so a place closer than Sure Pinoy or Kam Man would be excellent...

                                                            2. FYI, the South Bay outlet now has a sign on the door that says "Hong Kong Market coming soon", but its shelves are still a desolation.

                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                              1. Hit it today. Nearly fully stocked. Amazing how much more stock they have then just a few weeks ago.

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  But I didn't see the bags of little dumplings in the freezer.

                                                                  1. re: lergnom

                                                                    i was also there today. there are plenty of gyoza (japanese dumplings) in the freezer chests along the wall near the back of the store. the rest of the dumplings are in the freezer chests on the floor near the seafood counter

                                                                    1. re: galangatron

                                                                      My big wish is for the Chinese Spaghetti Factory pork dumplings to return- the full size ones in the 50ct & 100ct bags. I can still get them from the source in Chinatown, but it's nice to grab a bag on the Friday way home when I have a party on the weekend.

                                                                      Maybe they haven't yet negotiated with some of the local providers? I hope this changes... big time!

                                                                      1. re: Scortch

                                                                        Ahhh, see I buy my dumplings from Wang's in Somerville. Heck sometimes I am even gifted dumplings from Wang's.

                                                                        1. re: Scortch

                                                                          Is the Chinese Spaghetti Factory the same as Hoy Toy Noddle, Inc 好彩面廠
                                                                          on 73 Essex St
                                                                          are they open to the public?

                                                                          1. re: theparegorickid

                                                                            Chinese Spaghetti Factory is located in Newmarket Square http://chinese-spaghetti.com/

                                                                            I have not heard that they are open to the public.

                                                                            1. re: theparegorickid

                                                                              I wouldn't say that they're open to the public, but I have called and scheduled to pick up a few 200ct boxes before, cash in hand. I don't know if they made an exception or if they do this as a routine.

                                                                          2. re: galangatron

                                                                            I didn't look in those chests. Thanks.

                                                                      2. Good to see that the place is now stocked to the gills and thriving, but given the brouhaha in progress over its ownership, I have to wonder, who is it that's been paying for all that stocking and renovation?

                                                                        The original owners have their money tied up in a Vietnamese casino, Hong Kong Market has its signs plastered all over saying "coming soon" (but not there yet?), and the Food-Pak Express people claim they signed a deal to buy it before Hong Kong entered the picture. So who's making money off it today?

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                                          Very good question.

                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                            According to an article in last Tuesday's Globe, "Two buyers - a local couple with 30 years in the food industry and a New Jersey businessman with an Asian market in Quincy" are vying for the purchase. But there's a third contender who says he has bought 3 of the stores already.

                                                                            http://www.boston.com/business/articl...

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              Actually it's just the local couple, who own Food-Pak Express, who are fighting Hong Kong for this one. The New Jersey outfit (parent company of Kam Man) is fighting Hong Kong for the one in South Bay in Dorchester. The "third contender" is Hong Kong Markets itself.

                                                                            2. re: BobB

                                                                              The shopping bags have "Hong Kong Market" printed on them.

                                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                That's a pretty good clue. But then why do all the signs say "coming soon"? Maybe they're waiting to finish the renovations (and the lawsuits) and do a Grand Opening? It seems pretty risky to invest so much in it without a signed lease in hand. Or maybe they have a lease but it's being challenged by Food-Pak.

                                                                                Oh well, at least the food is there and looks good.

                                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                                  I was wondering that as well. But, my pink bags all say HK Market. Maybe they don't want to put the money into signs before the lawsuits and renovations are finished. I also think that for now, HK Market is in the lead (non-legal) because they have possession, stock and staff all in place.

                                                                                  1. re: BobB

                                                                                    Perhaps the HKM people are thinking about the old cliche - possession is 9/10s of the law. So they go full stream ahead. The alternative would be to pull out (after already having done significant work) and let the Food-Pak people take over. If they pulled out, it would seem to me that their chances of getting back in would be pretty slim. It could be seen as tantamount to admitting they should not have been there in the first place.

                                                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                                                      My assumption is that the "coming soon" signs are still up because the renovations are still going on and they haven't had a proper Grand Opening yet. But not only do the bags say Hong Kong Market, my online statements from my debit card say "Hong Kong Market" as well. There's no mystery here: the Allston store is now owned by Hong Kong Market.

                                                                                    2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                      And the debit card receipts say "Hong Kong Market", as do the register screens... This seems like the entity that is getting the money from customers.

                                                                                    3. re: BobB

                                                                                      Speaking of "stocked to the gills," I was delighted to find the market full of great stuff on Friday, even including some things I never found at Super 88, like chow fun noodles. But I must say that the fish section was pretty grim, with many sad faced fish and several of their companions sleeping upside down on the bottom of the tank.

                                                                                    4. does anyone know if they are stocking "ABC" brand "extra pedas" chilli sauce? I love that stuff but can't find it in chinatown.

                                                                                      1. *Finally* managed to stop by to check out the restocked incarnation (since things got grim in the spring, I've mainly either been in CA or frequenting the manhattan H-Mart, haven't had much call to try my luck with the Allston ex-88). What a pleasant surprise-- tons of things that I've never seen at 88 or any of the chinatown stores, and even some things I've never seen at Kam Man! I was mainly on the lookout for filipino staples-- fully stocked selection of suka, patis, canned fishes (including some I've never even seen before, like paksiw na bangus, vinegared milkfish with bitter melon). Modest selection of jarred sweet items (halo halo mix, garbanzo, macapuno, sago, ube), and sadly, just one brand of bagoong-- but it's Barrio Fiesta brand, so it's OK.

                                                                                        One weird thing is that the south asian demi-aisle seems to be arranged by size of jar/can, rather than thematically: small jars of filipino shrimp paste, sweet yam, coconut, fishes, thai pickles, thai curries, then large filipino shrimp paste, large ube, large fishes, large thai things. It was kind of confusing until I figured out that there were two locations for various things, depending on the size, and that thai and filipino items are mixed. Banana ketchup, on the other hand, comes in two sizes and they are together, right between the "big cans" section and the "small cans" section.

                                                                                        There are probably also filipino items sprinkled elsewhere throughout the store-- for example, I found white king brand champurado (chocolate rice porridge) mix in another aisle-- yay, finally all the fixings for quick breakfasts of champurado with tuyo (dried sardines) :) I still haven't found danggit/jeprox, though-- those still require a trip to Sure Pinoy, it seems. But all in all, a great improvement over even the better days of super88.

                                                                                        There also seemed to be a somewhat better selection of Japanese items than previously, including many more curry options (including vermont, java, etc.; not just S&B, like super88 used to carry). The rice situation is also OK now (tamanishiki, nishiki, various others), and the rice prices are quite good. I didn't have time to do extensive exploration of other areas, except to notice that the produce selection was OK but not super, and the fridge selection of fresh noodles and prepared items seemed promising. :) They also have retained some of the increased spice selection from before the changeover to hong kong market, though my favorite malaysian curry powder hasn't made a reappearance. :(

                                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: another_adam

                                                                                          They also added a new section next to the lobster tanks and seem to be moving the dried noodles there.

                                                                                          1. re: another_adam

                                                                                            Okay, now you've really peeked my curiosity. I am have very little knowledge of Philippine food. I eat it mostly when I am in SF or NYC.

                                                                                            But chocolate rice porridge with dried sardines on top. Definitely a taste sensation I have not experienced. Might have to give it a try.

                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                              Champurrado with tuyo is a very, uh, particular combination, but I dig it :) Some people sprinkle small dried tuyo on top, but I prefer the larger ones, fried or grilled to dip in vinegar, on the side (not on top). Also, I might be the only one in the world, but instead of sardine, I also like super-salty fried dried fishes like danggit or especially jeprox with vinegar together with the sweet rice... Hmmmm, getting hungry :)

                                                                                              The white king mix is not as good as home-made, but it's not bad, and very convenient-- serve with evap milk on top for a homey cold weather breakfast!

                                                                                              1. re: another_adam

                                                                                                I am a HUGE believer that if there is someone, somewhere who thinks it is tasty, then it quite possibly is (though it may not meet one's usual expectations). Seriously, next time I am at Super88 I will give it a whirl and report back.

                                                                                                Hope I can figure out which are the correct sardines...

                                                                                                Thanks for the tip.

                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                  I'd look for dried tuyo (I can't remember if they had any-- in general, I've had a really really hard time finding filipino dried fishes in Boston). They're medium-sized, and you give them a quick fry (a "hi how are you", as my mother-in-law says) and serve with a saucer of vinegar for dipping. Warning: they are very stinky when you fry them-- in California, we do it outside with the grill, and in Boston, we set up many candles and a fan. (There was a famous incident in Manhattan of a lawsuit over cooking tuyo)

                                                                                                  There were also definitely jarred tuyo @ super88 (er, or HK market), but I've never had those.

                                                                                                  1. re: another_adam

                                                                                                    Gotcha on the fry job. Lot's of dried fish at S88, but perhaps not Filipino.

                                                                                                    Lawsuit stinky, hmmm.

                                                                                                    I bought some rather game itsy bitsy wet gooey fermented shrimp at at a Cambodian place in Lynn and it leaked in the bag. My girlfriend who cleaned it up was a bit less then thrilled.

                                                                                                    Will report back on my efforts.

                                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                      haha yeah- and not just 'lawsuit stinky', but 'sued by nuns' stinky! There's a particular type that we used to bring from CA until we discovered that Sure Pinoy also has them-- I always figured that the airport beagles would have a field day if they noticed them.

                                                                                                      Filipino dried fishes are often very salty, and are prepared just with a quick fry-- we've never quite figured out how to use the Chinese ones at super-ex-88, since they ones we've investigated haven't been salted, so I'm not sure what they're used for. (soaked? grilled?) I wish I'd paid closer attention on my recon mission- I'll have to remember to check out the fish situation more assiduously next time!

                                                                                                      1. re: another_adam

                                                                                                        I really like some of the dried fish snacky things at S88. Some are salty, coated with the lightest glaze of sugar and then sprinkled with sesame. They have a bunch of different variations on that theme now that they are restocked.

                                                                                                        Thanks for the tips on a tasty Filipino breakfast.

                                                                                                        1. re: another_adam

                                                                                                          The smaller dried fish are usually not salted and often used in dishes with eggs or or sometimes cooked with rice in the pot. You can also steam them with a bit of oil and soy sauce, or add them to a minced meat for extra taste and texture (pork being popular).

                                                                                                          There are bigger dried salted fish that you can also steam with oil and ginger and eat with rice, add to minced meat (pork & salted fish being a famous dish in Cantonese cuisine), or added to stews, soups, casseroles (chinese style) - deboned or with bones. You usually wouldn't use the salted kind for eggs since it would just overwhelm the dish.

                                                                                                          There are a few variety of bigger fish not salted that are also added to soup, stews and sometimes congee.

                                                                                                  2. re: another_adam

                                                                                                    So, uh, you got me with milkfish and bitter melon...What's that like? Is it a complete dish, or do you add it to something? I love the idea of fish and bitter melon...

                                                                                                    1. re: galleygirl

                                                                                                      Actually, I'd never seen this item it before! The one they have is paksiw na bangus ("paksiw of milkfish"), which prompted a discussion of what kind of cooking 'paksiw' actually refers to, since I had previously only known paksiw na lechon (barbecue), which is cooked in vinegar and soy. Evidently cooking in vinegar is what they have in common (I don't think fish ever goes in soy sauce in filipino cuisine? can't think of any, at least...), so I guess 'paksiw' is cooking in vinegar. I imagine it's, well, both sour and bitter-- I'd serve it as a dish on its own to eat with rice, maybe with a fried egg, for breakfast, or in the lunchbox. However, except for a couple outlier dishes, I'm not a big fan of bitter melon, especially in the cooler weather, so I didn't buy any. If you try it, be sure to report back, though! :) (And then maybe StriperGuy can try it with champurado and tell us how it all goes together! hehe)

                                                                                                      I actually happen to have a crummy cell phone picture of it, because I was coincidentally taking a picture of the happy futurama-like tinapa (smoked fish) next to it! If this uploading thing works, it's the one in the middle (light green label)-- that might at least give you a sense of what it looks like.

                                                                                                       
                                                                                                      1. re: another_adam

                                                                                                        I am a bitter melon fan. Best version I had was with beef and black beans.

                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                          I like it cooked with salted duck egg

                                                                                                          1. re: yuanzhoulv

                                                                                                            Do you mean 100 year old egg or some other duck egg prep?

                                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                              No, not the preserved variety, just the salted one.
                                                                                                              皮蛋 (pi dan) = century egg / 100 year egg / 1000 year egg / etc., black

                                                                                                              what i'm talking about is 咸蛋 (鹹蛋 in traditional characters) which is not preserved, just salted and still white.

                                                                                                              you can get this dish at Mulan in Cambridge if you're interested to try it.

                                                                                                              1. re: yuanzhoulv

                                                                                                                Cool, thanks, overdue for a trip to Mulan.

                                                                                              2. I stopped by the new Hong Kong Market in Allston about a week ago. It was fully stocked, and the brands are a bit different than what Super 88 used to carry. I was pretty happy with the level of items available. I bought some fresh soy milk and deep fried crullers (yo tiao). Unfortunately, in less than a week, the soy milk was solid and chunky, and the crullers (still in the bag) had molded. I was soooo disappointed. What's going on? Then I looked on the package and realized they had sold me EXPIRED crullers. I'm so disappointed. I had such high hopes for Hong Kong Market. Why are they selling expired items? Just make sure to check your dates when you buy stuff there! Still haven't had a chance to go to H Mart . . hoping for something better . . .
                                                                                                http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: jgleeche

                                                                                                  Similar experience. Bought some lemons recently which turned moldy the next day.

                                                                                                  1. re: chuck s

                                                                                                    yup, and i must say, despite all the hype, their vegetable section -- the most important in any supermarket, come on -- continues to be 1/5 of its original size a few years ago. I've moved entirely to shopping at C-Mart and 金门; I don't see hope for the Allston store myself unless they can offer the full selection of vegetables...

                                                                                                    1. re: yuanzhoulv

                                                                                                      I know there's a thread about the bankruptcy, but they have in the last days dramatically expanded the produce area towards the front and side.

                                                                                                      1. re: lergnom

                                                                                                        Yes, I have been going essentially since they opened and it is as good as it have ever been. Not the best Asian produce in Boston, but very good.