Words by: Marilynne Ching Lam Cheng
For international students, getting home-sick is inevitable. Even though I have studied in the United States since freshman year of high school, some days after school I just wonder what my siblings and my parents are also doing at that exact moment back in Hong Kong. While domestic students, like my roommate, can pick up the phone and text them hello, my impulse to do so fades away as I realize it’s 4 a.m. there. This irresistible desire to be home is best remedied by familiar, tangible things. So far, one place has answered this call: The Super 88 Market.
I knew that Super 88 had rows of food stalls to grab a full meal on its ground floor, but just two weeks ago I discovered the giant Asian supermarket that hides behind these restaurants. I thought Super 88 was great for cheap eats, but the supermarket takes this space to a whole new level.
The market overflows with aisle after aisle of food, ranging from a plethora of snacks from all over Asia to the essential (but prohibited in BU dorms!) rice cooker. I was shocked by the wide selection and wondered how I had failed to know about this place earlier. For someone who loves snacking, the Super 88 Market was a blessing. Just look at all the kinds of Pocky there are! There aren’t even that many choices at the local supermarket near my house.
And these Japanese gummies!
Thus, I began to rummage through the aisles of snacks and pick out the ones I really wanted. These are the top three items that really took me back home, bringing back nostalgic memories from childhood.
Yan-Yan: This is a strawberry and chocolate version of the Nutella and GO! Snack Packs that are popular in America. I ate this snack almost every day of my childhood. The best part about Yan-Yan is dipping your finger into the frosting compartment and licking off the remaining sauce because all the sticks are gone.
Egg Rolls: Unlike a regular egg roll, these are buttery, flaky cylinders that are about six inches long. These egg rolls taste like the lovechild of a pie crust and a shortbread cookie—crunchy, sweet, and crumbly. I was surprised to see this snack at Super 88 because I haven’t had it in a long time. As a child, I would hold the egg roll between my fingers and pretend that it was a cigar and “smoke” out of it. True story.
Noodle crackers: These crackers taste like the snack version of instant noodles. They’re flavored with the same seasoning that typically comes in a packet with instant noodles. These bite-sized noodle crackers are one of my favorite snacks because they’re crunchy and come in a variety of flavors, like BBQ, miso, seaweed, and soy sauce.
While I was exploring Super 88, I also thought that it would be interesting to know what the most popular snacks are among students. Since Super 88 is right on the edge of West Campus and Allston, I assumed that many BU students who live off-campus shop here often.
I asked an employee to help me on this mission, and she led me through the aisles and pointed out popular food choices. Interestingly, the three most popular snacks are Pocky, Wang Wang Rice Crackers, and the noodle crackers that I had also picked as one of my favorites.
Wang Wang Rice Crackers are a sweet and salty snack popular in Asian countries, so I’m not shocked that they’re popular at Super 88.
I was pleasantly surprised that other people also enjoy the noodle crackers! They are piled up on large shelves in the first aisles, though, as they’re a more popular snack here.
That concludes my discovery of the Super 88 Market and my adventure there. It was fun to talk to the employees in my mother tongue; I don’t speak it so often when I am at BU. I am happy with my purchases because, to me, these snacks are not just snacks. They serve as a way to connect back home and as a symbol of familiarity in a place thousands and thousands of miles away from where I grew up. I will definitely revisit the supermarket to stock on some food for finals week. I recommend anyone to check it out to explore new snacking options for those late night munchies!