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Southeast Asian flavors via Newbury Street

By Debra Cho

Section: Arts

November 16, 2007

As an avid food lover, arriving on the Brandeis campus has enhanced my appreciation for good food. The food offered in the Usdan and Sherman dining halls simply does not compare to the good home cooked food that I am used to. I started to wonder where I could find some good food and I thought Boston was the place to go. So far, the restaurants I have tasted in Boston have been pretty standard.

In my recent attempts to find a decent eatery I came across Island Hopper located at 91 Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street. This restaurant specializes in cuisine from all over Southeast Asia. It has great food for reasonable prices and I felt thoroughly satisfied after my meal. The service was far from perfect, but the food certainly makes up for it.

The ambience includes high ceilings, some deep purple upholstery and shiny hardwood floors, which makes Island Hopper an elegant venue for dates or a nice night out with friends. The atmosphere is warm and hip and the staff is also very friendly, but slow. This restaurants best dishes include the poh piah appetizer which combines a soft wrapper with a crunchy jicama and mixed-vegetable filling. The Hainanese-style ravioli are plump, firm and savory without the usual grease of potstickers. I recommend the Creamy Thai ice tea to soothe the flames from all the spicy dishes. For dessert, try the ice kachang: red beans, Jell-O, tapioca and peanuts tossed with chipped ice and rose syrup. Island Hopper has it all, but I have to say I'm more fond of its appetizers than its entrees.

I've dined at restaurants all over Boston, and this is one of my favorites. This place is great because it's easy to walk to especially when your on your way to Newbury street. Island Hopper has a lengthy menu with wonderful, detailed descriptions of each dish. While it specializes in Southeast Asian cuisine it also has very original and delicious dishes, both meat and vegetarian/vegan. It is flavorful, not too pricey, and worth the visit!

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