This Brighton Avenue food court may have mismatched tables, which might not have been wiped down today. A generic ATM inside, necessary for many cash-only and minimum-charging vendors, may assess a $2.99 fee. This is probably the styrofoam capital of Boston. And there is a certain smell in the air.
But at ten different stalls (and one bonus restaurant), an affordable variety of decent Chinese, Thai, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, and Japanese cuisines awaits. With surprises at every stand and some seriously lengthy, often confusing menus, the Super 88 food court can be overwhelming. Don't hesitate to ask employees for recommendations if you're feeling decision fatigue.
Here's a little primer.
The Super 88 Market (which was renamed Hong Kong Supermarket in 2009, but still has iconic signage for its given name) is open daily from 9 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. The cafeteria across the hall is open about from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., though each vendor's hours vary. They operate independently from the supermarket and (mostly) each other, and any shop is subject to change hours without notice.
(The prices listed below may or may not include sales tax.)
Pikaichi Japanese Restaurant
Open daily 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.; 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Pikaichi Japanese Restaurant is actually located just outside the Food Connection, with its own entrances from the parking lot and from the hallway that connects to the food court. Takeout is available, but this restaurant has waiter service at tables and seating counters. Pikaichi replaced the beloved Ken's Ramen when the latter shuttered in 2011, and you can decide for yourself how its noodle soups compare. There are six varieties here that range from $7.99 - $8.99. Curries, served with miso soup and white rice, are $7.49 - $8.49, with add-ons like a fried egg and extra fukushinzuke (+$1) available. There are three different donburi, too, served with miso soup and white rice, all for $7.49. You won't pay more than $5.99 for any side dish. Cold green or oolong tea is $1.80 and other beverages are $2.
Smile Thai Noodles
Open daily 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, & Sunday)
The styrofoam takeout containers of curries, noodles, and rice dishes at this food court stall often make two meals. Several bright curries are $8 with chicken, vegetables, or pork; prices increase to $8.50 for duck and seafood. Spicy pad kee mao and other noodle dishes, and a couple noodle soups, range from $8 - $9, depending on your choice of meat. Fried rice dishes and specialty rice plates are also in that range. Appetizers, such as crab rangoons, fresh and crispy rolls, and curry puffs are $5.50 each, and Thai iced tea and coffee is $2.50. The stall has a $5 minimum for credit card transactions. As you can see in the photo, the stall was closed on a recent Sunday evening, though it is typically open until 9 or 10 p.m. every night.
Dim Sum Chef
Open daily 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. (10:30 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 10:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday)
Pictures of the many items available here, posted around the expansive stall, aid in ordering at Dim Sum Chef. Steamed, pan-seared, or fried dim sum runs from $3.20 - $4.20 per order, like chicken claws with black bean sauce ($3.65), fried sesame shrimp rolls ($4.20), and many more options. Shanghai meat dumplings, red bean paste buns, and other steamed buns are all $3.20 per order of three. Various dishes served with rice are $5.20 - $8.20. Plates of congee are $4.50, and there are also weekday combo specials from $7.20 - $10.20. Dim Sum Chef offers a few specialty drinks, too.
If you're hungry after all this, desserts like mango pudding or sweet coconut milk cake with red beans will run you $2.50. Fruit shakes, including jackfruit, lychee, and a seasonal mango variety, are similar to New England frappes; these treats are $2.95 - $3.95. Also in the chilled case are take-home items, like marinated chicken claws ($5).
If you're craving dim sum, make sure you have cash, as this place doesn't take cards. Also good to know: For a $10 minimum, the shop delivers within a 2-mile radius in the evenings.
Open daily 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Another one with an overwhelming menu, Kantin makes ordering easier thanks to photos around the stand and a whiteboard of hand-written specials. The open kitchen specializes in Cantonese cuisine, Chinese barbecue, and soup noodles. Barbecue is a good place to start: If you're looking to have leftovers, roast pork is sold by the pound for $11.95/lb., and a quarter, half, or a whole roast duck is $8.50, $12.95, or $25.95, respectively. Both are served as a trio, coated in sweet plum sauce and piled into a chewy bun with scallions, for $6.75.
Roast pork and duck, as well as braised beef tendon, soy sauce chicken, and more, come Hong Kong soup noodles-style, with wontons and a salty broth, for $6.75 - $8.25. Dry-fried beef chow foon, a styrofoam container overflowing with beef and wide, flat noodles, is $8.25 and invariably makes two servings. Congee varieties include beef, sampan, and chicken from $5.50 - $6.25. Fried rice and udon noodle stir-frys are offered with a variety of meat or veggies, from $7 - $9.25.
With a side of jasmine rice, dozens of stir-fries and standard Chinese restaurant fare ranges from $6.25 - $8.25. Apps, like chicken wings, beef teriyaki, and Peking ravioli, come in small ($4.25 - $4.95) and large ($6.25 - $7.50). Egg rolls are $1.25. The menu goes on.
Intrigued? Consider ordering from Kantin for your next event; the stall offers catering.
Open daily 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. (11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday)
Two Korean stands in the food court share one owner; Misono Grill faces Kantin on the smaller side of the cafeteria. Bibimbap, with the option to have it in a hot stone pot (which you must return to the counter), ranges from $9.75 - $11.50 with tofu, kimchi, and beef galbi options. Box combinations come with chicken, pork, or beef bulgogi for $10; galbi for $11.50, or eel for $14 and also include a salad, kimchi, and rice. Add an egg to anything for an extra $.50. Udon noodles are available in a broth or as a stir-fry (bokum) with choice of ingredients for similar prices, $9.75 - $11.50.
Misono Wok was serving Korean fare such as gimbap, a sushi-like seaweed roll with sticky rice kimchi, spam, beef bulgogi, and other options; kimchi fried rice; jajang myeon; and yang nyum, Korean fried chicken; when Eater started reporting this article. Last week, it shuttered, but employees at its sister restaurant, Misono Grill, said it was coming back soon with a new menu.
Just before press time, a Misono Grill employee reached by phone said the neighboring stall has reopened under a new name, and its menu specializes in rice dishes, though it no longer offers gimbap. It's still the same owner and employees, he said, but other than that, "I don't know the details."
The phone number listed for Misono Wok is disconnected.
Eater Boston will get back to Super 88 soon to check out the new spot. In the meantime, hit up the tipline if you've given it a try.
UPDATE, 7/29: A Chowhound user reports Cup Bap is the name of the new place.
JMP Fine Indian Cuisine
Open daily noon - 10 p.m. (noon - 11 p.m. Friday & Saturday)
JMP's menu is also huge, featuring pretty much any Indian dish you might desire with vegetarian, chicken, goat, lamb, and seafood options. Start with a spicy cup of mulligatawny soup, with lentils and vegetables, for $3.95. Other appetizers, like two samosas, bhel, and chicken chat, range from $2.95 - $6.95.
Aloo chholey is a classic, with potatoes and chickpeas in an aromatic, tomato-based sauce, for $6.95 (lunch) or $8.95 (dinner). Tikka masala, vindaloo, korma, and curry can be ordered with chicken, vegetables, or paneer for the same prices. The dishes are $7.99/$9.95 with lamb or shrimp, and $12.95 with goat as a dinner-sized portion. Biryani is $8.95 - $10.95, dhosa is $7.95 - $9.95, and saag is $6.95 - $9.95.
To sop up all the spicy sauces, large rounds of plain naan from the Tandoori oven are $1.95. Topped with garlic, the bread is $2.95, and it ranges from $3.25 - $4.95 stuffed with onion, mint, chicken and chilli, minced lamb, and more options. Speaking of that oven, chicken and lamb specials, including seekh kebabs, are $8.95 - $10.95.
Dishes are all spiced to order, mild, medium, spicy, or extra spicy. To cool you down, lassi with sugar, salt, or mango is $3.95. There are also a handful of traditional desserts for $3.50 or less.
Note the credit card minimum here is $8.
Open daily 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. (11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday & Saturday)
Lollicup has a few snacks, but this stall is mainly a spot for a variety of hot and cold drinks. The chain has outposts all over Asia and the United States, including one nearby in Quincy. It specializes in boba milk tea, but it has numerous combinations of fruit and milk flavors and add-ons as well as fruity slushes, smoothies, and hot beverages.
Cold drinks range from $3.50 - $3.99, and hot tea drinks are $3.75. There are cold fruit teas, like dark plum, honey lemon, and mango; fruit juices, such as sour plum and watermelon; milk teas with your choice of whole, skim, or soy in flavors like black sesame, coffee, almond, and jasmine; milk lattes with red bean, taro, and much more. Add-ons, including mega and mini boba, mango jelly, pudding, and jelly noodles, are an extra $.50.
For snacks, Lollicup is known for its salt & pepper popcorn chicken ($5.25 / $7.75). It also carries fried string beans ($2.75), sweet potato fries ($2.75 / $5.50), and mini buns ($2.25 / $5).
The stall is cash-only.
Open daily 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sunday)
Super 88's Vietnamese eatery is home to one of Boston's best-known cheap eats, a crispy, fresh, rather large, $4 grilled pork banh mi. (It's also available with tofu, grilled beef, grilled chicken, and Vietnamese ham.) No one would fault you for eating just that menu item every time you visit this stall, but if you venture beyond the sandwich, you'll find plenty of well-portioned appetizers and entrees at affordable prices.
Two shrimp and chicken fresh rolls will set you back $4.80, 10 fried fish balls come with every $6.10 order, and eight deep-fried dumplings are $6.35. Steamy, not-too-salty bowls of pho are $7.60 - $8.20; beef noodles with a generous amount of thinly-sliced, rare steak is $7.75. Bún with a choice of lemongrass meat, shrimp, or tofu is $7.20 - $8.35, while a couple rice plates and chef's specials go up to $8.95.
Com chien Viet's, the house fried rice, comes with shrimp, ham, egg, sausage, and veggies, and a portion that can easily be extended over two meals is $7.95. Noodle stir-fries are $8.20 - $9.30.
Pho Viet's has a dozen fruit smoothies on offer; most are $3.50, but durian will run you $4.45. Requisite iced teas and coffee are available ($3.30), and there's also hot espresso ($2.80). Club soda with limeade is tart, refreshing, and $3.30.
Make sure you spend at least $5 if you'd like to pay with a credit card here.
Open daily 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday)
This eatery specializes in Szechuan ma la xiang gua. Diners pick their own meat and vegetable components from a buffet-style cooler behind glass at the front of the stall, and the bowl is cooked to the customer's desired level of heat.
Vegetables, like mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, bean sprouts, and more, are sold by either the small ($5.50) or large ($7.50) basket, but Chilipa charges based on weight of meat, seafood, and tofu, so be warned that it can add up. Protein is $9.99 per pound and choices vary day to day but can include pork belly, octopus, shrimp, beef, and more. Rice is an additional charge as well.
The stall offers some other dishes, too; dan dan noodles, boiled fish filet, beef tendon soup noodles, and the like range from $7.25 - $12.50.
Open daily 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. (11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday)
Super 88's sushi shop just opened in May, and it has the classiest facade of all the food court's stalls, with potted plants and illuminated, electronic menu displays.
It offers maki rolls, including barbecue salmon, a Red Sox roll, and many more choices, at about $3.85 for two or six for $7. Twelve pieces of fresh sashimi come in the Geido Super Bowl, the stall's version of chirashi, and it's a filling meal for $14.95 that could definitely be shared. A bento box special is $10.95 and comes with onion soup.
The shop also offers affordable sides like gyoza, shumai, miso soup, and white rice.