Wednesday, October 1, 2008

FoodieMommy Eats a Food Court! The Super 88 Food Court

I have always had ambivalent feelings about taking my toddler to restaurants. On the one hand, I want to expose him to the pleasures of eating out while giving him the chance to learn how to behave at someone else's table. However, although I know a few great kid-friendly restaurants and I always arrive prepared (with a bag full of non-messy crafts and lots of food he will definitely eat), there is always the sense of anxiety that makes it difficult to fully enjoy the meal.

The solution? The Super 88 Food Court at 1095 Commonwealth Ave in Allston. First there is free parking. Sometimes you need to circle a bit, but you can almost always find a spot. Next, there is a huge area for sitting, so toddlers can easily roam and you don't have to worry about the noise factor. Finally, the incredible range of delicious (and affordable!) foods means that every member of the family can have dishes that meet their individual tastes while trying something new.

My favorites: First and foremost, Pho Viet.

Their beef soup is spicy and flavorful. I love that they always give you a few fresh herbs to put on top yourself. Their Banh Mi or grilled meat sandwiches are the epitome of a dish that is more than the sum of its parts. The fresh crunchy roll holds freshly grilled meat, pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro, peppers and a fabulous sauce. All for, drum roll please, $3.50! My favorite, though, is their homemade soy milk. It is as different from what you buy at the grocery store as real mac and cheese is to the boxed versions. It is light, incredibly flavorful and just sweetened enough. It cuts the spicy dishes, but is refreshing at the same time. I love it hot and cold.

Next, the Misono Grill for Korean specialties. This is owned by the same family who owns Apgujung in Newton Center. I particularly like the chap chae (sauteed clear sweet potato noodles and a sauce of soy sauce and sesame oil.)

I always go to the Dim Sum Chef. (The photographs at the top of this post are of their custard steam buns and shrimp har gao.) Honestly, it isn't up to the same caliber as Gitlo's down the street, but the parking is certainly easier and it is very, very good. I love that they have a photographic menu so you can see each item you are ordering, and that almost all items have a vegetarian equivalent. For example, they have vegetarian pork buns. Their steamed buns are moist, but I was most taken with the chicken and black mushroom on steamed rice. The portion was enormous and it had a subtle curry flavor. My husband loves the vegetarian rice noodles.

Kantin is the main Chinese food stall and is unique for its fantastic range of Chinese entrees, from congee to chow foon. You can get more standard Americanized Chinese food (chicken and broccoli) or more authentic dishes such as spicy salted tofu. The roast meats aren't as good as those I have had in Chinatown, but again, the convenience can't be beat.

Finally, I have had a few delicious dishes from Wisteria which offers Taiwanese food. They offer rice bowls that are wonderful.
Currently there is also an Indian food and Thai food, as well as frozen yogurt and bubble (tapioca) tea stalls. I haven't frequented those as often, but they are popular.

The Food Court is fun, it is easy, it is cheap, it is tasty and most of all, it is a place for kids to run around. Not sure it gets much better than that!

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