Super 88 Asian Market, Allston

First off, it’s not really a “Super 88” anymore. The big sign still says “Super 88” (at least, it did last time we were there) but the receipts have “Hong Kong Market” printed on them. Apparently, the place is under new management, and in our estimation, confusing signage can only add to the authenticity of an Asian market. This is a great place to buy Asian ingredients cheaply, often in bulk. We usually stock up on staples like soy sauce, panko and bonito flakes, and sometimes, fresh produce. But the real fun of an Asian market is gawking at all the crazy products that you’ve never seen before. Plus these shopping baskets/carts rock, especially in the cramped aisles of an Asian market. Bigger than your usual basket, but way more nimble than a cart, we wish every small market had them (we’re talking to you Reliable!).

According to our exhaustive research, (a few google searches) “Milky” is some sorta Japanese milk-flavored candy, perhaps similar to taffy.  The little girl on the package is known as “Peko-Chan”, and is quite popular for some reason.  “Milky” apparently comes in a few different flavors.  Judging by the pictures on the labels, we assume these three packages to be coffee, strawberry and “Giant whale possibly humping Texas” flavors. Sweets Blog says this about Milky’s packaging, “I like how it says “ミルキーは ママの昧”, Milky is Mama’s flavor.”  We can neither confirm, nor deny this, as we don’t read Japanese, but we find it highly disturbing anyway.

No Asian market would be complete without scary chicken parts!  We’re actually kind of fond of chicken’s feet, especially when prepared at a good Dim-Sum restaurant, but they’re still pretty freaky looking.  Cold, white and scaly are not the usual indicators of a delicious meal coming your way, never mind the crazy nails on those things.

Milk Fish?  Perhaps they mean Milkfish (Chanos chanos), the only member of the Chanidae family that still exists? (Thanks, Internet!)  From what we could find out, Milkfish taste like Trout, or maybe ocean Trout, or according to some sources, Sole.  So maybe the whole “in tomato sauce” thing makes sense, but it still sounds a bit weird.  Milkfish are very popular in South East Asia, the first examples of Milkfish aquaculture go back to the 1200s in the Philippines, so they have to be good, right?

Seriously?  This has to be a joke.  Do people really eat Jellyfish?  And do they really pay $5.99 a pound for them?  Then again, a pound of Jellyfish is probably more than enough for whatever you might need it for.  We’re not real clear on how someone goes about capturing large amounts of Jellyfish, but it is more than likely fairly labor-intensive, so maybe six bucks a pound IS fair.

Durian.  Arch nemesis of Andrew Zimmern, known as the “The King of Fruits” in Southeast Asia, a curiosity to foodies worldwide.  Our only experience tasting Durian came in the form of Durian flavored ice cream pops.  They were not good.  They tasted exactly like frozen custard made from rotten onions.  Yum!  A Chinese friend has assured us that fresh Durian is quite good, but that all the Durian that makes it into the USA is previously frozen.  We believe him about the frozen part of course, but we remain skeptical about taste.

Aroy-D is supposed to mean “Yummy” or “Very Delicious” in Thai.  So we assume that these quail eggs in water must be very tasty.  What’s unclear is whether or not the eggs are pre-shelled.  The label seems to show both, with the peeled eggs in the foreground.  We assume that they are just showing us some type of before/after shot, but it’s really anyone’s guess.

We’ve always been a little afraid of the seafood in this particular market.  The cloudy eyes of the butterfish certainly didn’t change our opinion.

This is some truly awesome packaging.  You have, on the surface, “Squid in soy sauce”.  Seems harmless enough, until you notice that the “Old Fisherman” appears to be surfing a tidal wave on a plaid blanket, tempting a giant killer squid with a small (perhaps not so fresh) fish.  This will probably end badly.  Our money is on the squid.

Here we have “Fried Fish with Chilli” in a can, what kind of fish exactly, was unclear.  Even the “helpful” picture of the can’s contents prominently displayed on the label did little to clear this up.  Do they really mean Chili or do they actually mean Chile?  Are they talking about a Tex-Mex soup/stew or chopped up Chile peppers? Or perhaps some sorta sauce made from peppers?  What’s with the extra “L”?  Either way, it does seem to be fully endorsed by the “smiling fish” himself, which brings other questions to mind.  Were these fish his enemies?  Or is he one of those creepy Charlie Tuna type mascots that seem to be all excited at the prospect of being killed, processed and consumed by uncaring humans?

Here are some intersting looking books on Asian Markets and Asian Food…
The Asian Grocery Store Demystified

Cook’s Guide To Asian Vegetables

Asian Vegetables: From Long Beans to Lemongrass, A Simple Guide to Asian Produce Plus 50 Delicious, Easy Recipes

For more articles from Massachusetts click HERE

Hungry Native Martha's Vineyard

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