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Things We Like: Phoholic's special pho combo boasts 3 meats

A bowl the size of my head, but larger, arrived cradling a pool of lovely soup with green onions and meatballs poking the surface.

Phoholic's combination pho comes with meatballs, tripe and sliced beef tendon brisket. Melinda Lavine / Duluth News Tribune
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After a short wait, I snagged an open table at Phoholic on Duluth's Central Entrance. The menu touts banh mi and curry chicken, but I had to go with the namesake dish. Pho — pronounced “fuh” — is a popular Vietnamese street food made of broth, rice noodles, herbs and, often, a protein.

After placing my order, I was pleasantly surprised by the low-waste request: “Any veggies you don’t want?” After hearing the list, I said “yay” to all of ’em, and very quickly a bowl the size of my head, but larger, arrived cradling a pool of lovely soup with green onions and meatballs poking the surface.

On the side: a plate bearing cilantro, basil, jalapenos, sprouts and lime wedges. I emptied the plate into the broth and stirred, as slightly sweet wafts arose.

I felt like royalty pulling up an abundance of white noodles from the bottom of the enormous sphere.

Perfectly spongy and squishy tripe boasted a welcome texture. The sliced beef tendon brisket, a third meat in the pho special combo, fell apart at a jab of the chopsticks, adding a tender and savory flair to the mix. While tasty, my palate longed for more heat and flavor, so I added salt and two passes of sriracha.



After 10 minutes, it seemed I hadn’t made a dent. For $13.95, this was a very filling and warming dish on a brisk fall eve, and it’s very personalize-able, with your pick of veggies, shrimp, sliced beef, chicken or meatballs.
Two young women sat side-by-side before me in an intimate convo, and behind me, two men discussed what they’re watching on Netflix. The wait staff moved efficiently through in “I’m here pho you” shirts. I smiled, a sucker for word play.

When I had my fill, I poured the precious soup into two cylindrical containers. Lots of liquid leaked onto the table, and sheepishly wiping the kiddie pool before me, my server looked on encouragingly.

“That looks like a success if I’ve ever seen one,” he said. I’ll take it.



309 East Central Entrance, Duluth

Melinda Lavine (she/her) is an award-winning features reporter at the Duluth News Tribune, where she has worked since 2014.

She has been a features-focused, multidisciplinary journalist for 10 years, and today, she writes about the heartbeat of our community: the people.

Melinda grew up in central North Dakota, a first-generation American and the daughter of a military dad.

She earned bachelors degrees in English and Communications from the University of North Dakota in 2006, and started her career at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald that summer. She helped launch the Herald's features section, as the editor, before moving to Duluth in June 2014 to do the same at the DNT.

Contact her: 218-723-5346,
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