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Lunch, Anyone? Super 88

Food court offers an appetizing tour of Asia

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Super 88 food court. Photos by Erin Thibeau

Seen from the sidewalk, the exterior of 1095 Commonwealth Avenue looks like a nondescript warehouse. But walk inside and you enter a world of exotic sights and smells. Super 88 is a food court specializing in all kinds of Asian fare. Glass cases display chickens suspended on spits alongside unidentifiable sea creatures. Chinese lanterns decorate the walls, and colorful, handmade signs advertise meals for under $7. It’s enough to excite any international student looking for a taste of home, let alone an Allstonian subsisting on mac and cheese. There’s something here for everyone: authentic Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Indian cuisine, all at unbeatable prices.

As one might expect of a food court, Super 88 doesn’t offer much in the way of ambience. The stainless steel tabletops, blinking neon signs, and chilly temperature exude an industrial feel. But what the building lacks in style it makes up for in spicy, unconventional food. Adventurous eaters can opt for pigs’ feet or ears, oxtail, frog, or marinated chicken claws. But there are also more familiar options. Each venue provides pictures of its selections, and it’s quite acceptable to simply point at a photo when ordering if you can’t pronounce a dish’s name.

A coworker and I ventured to Super 88 on a recent weekday afternoon and were lucky to find a lull in the action. (It is packed at night, when students and commuters stop to pick up takeout or to eat in). Our goal was ambitious: to try something from every stall. With that in mind, we quickly amassed a wide variety of dishes.

Our first stop was Dim Sum Chef, where we ordered the BBQ Pork Bun ($2.60 for three) and the Pan Seared Meat and Vegetable Bun ($3.05 for three). The buns were thick and doughy, containing delicious but meager fillings. The Shanghai Meat Dumpling ($2.50 for three) was more to my liking—less bread and brimming with seasoned beef.

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From Misono Grill Korean Cuisine we tried the Grilled Box Combo (above, $7.95), which includes bulgogi (thinly sliced beef), sautéed onions, and vegetables over rice with three sides: lettuce with a creamy and mild sauce, bean sprouts, and a spicy chili side. It is Korean comfort food, filling and flavorful. Misono Grill offers many other items, among them bimbimbab, mixed marinated vegetables and chili paste served over rice and topped with an egg (about $7, depending on your order), jigae (traditional Korean pot stew), and appetizers such as kimchee and pajeon.

At Kantin Hong Kong Cuisine, we ordered chicken with broccoli and rice ($6.25 for a huge helping), an old standby for those with a less daring palate. The dish didn’t disappoint: tender sesame chicken and broccoli swimming in a savory sauce, it was much tastier than your average takeout.

Our favorite meal was the Masala Dhosa ($7.95) from J.M.P. Fine Indian Cuisine, a crispy crepe stuffed with rice, lentils, and curried potatoes dipped in a thick broth and served with a minty cilantro sauce. A traditional Southern Indian snack, this was substantial enough to be a meal. We also tried J.M.P.’s sweet lassi ($2.95), a light yogurt drink that was deliciously sweet and frothy.

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We felt obligated to sample one of Super 88’s enticing desserts. The Almond Snow ($4.04) from Lollicup is a light and icy drink with a delicate almond flavor, which would have been a satisfying finish to our heavy meal. But on our way out, we spotted something too crazy-looking to pass up—Pho Viet’s lychee jelly drink (above). With pieces of chopped lychee fruit floating in a murky jelly, the drink looked like some strange science experiment. The chunks of lychee had a scallop-like appearance, and unfortunately, a texture to match, and the cloying nectar tasted like the juice from packaged fruit cups. After a few bites, we had had enough and so, full of food and saddled with bags of leftovers, we sallied forth onto Commonwealth Avenue.

Super 88 Market and Food Court is at 1095 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, Mass. (the intersection of Brighton Ave. and Commonwealth Ave.). In addition to food stalls, the building houses a well-stocked Asian supermarket. Accessible by public transportation by taking the T’s Green Line B trolley to Packard’s Corner. Super 88 Market’s hours are Monday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; food court hours vary from stall to stall. Food court stalls accept all major credit cards.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.

Erin Thibeau can be reached at ethibeau@bu.edu.

6 Comments

6 Comments on Lunch, Anyone? Super 88

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2011 at 8:41 am

    too bad...

    You missed the best dishes at Pho Viet’s… their pho is fanatastic, the bahn mi is very good and the vegetarian summer rolls (which come in under $5) are my favorite.
    Thanks for the info on the other stalls. I’m certainly going to try a few more now!

  • Alexandre Todorov on 04.21.2011 at 10:18 am

    Hey, you guys should definitely cover university grill, their greek menu is excellent!

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2011 at 10:20 am

    Pad Thai

    The pad thai at Super 88 is delicious, and cheap. $7

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2011 at 10:22 am

    One more thing about the Pad Thai

    The portion looks average, but until you start eating, you don’t realize how huge it is. You’ll have leftovers, for lunch the next couple of days.

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2011 at 3:08 pm

    Lychees!

    I guess lychees are an acquired taste, and must admit that one can get turned off by the syrup that tends to be over-the-top sweet. But fresh lychees are the best!

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 10:22 am

    bahn mi at pho viet’s is the only reason I go to 88 anymore.

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