The Food Guy: Banh Mi and Pho the Star Menu Items at Pholicious in Bloomingdale

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Most of Chicago’s Vietnamese restaurants are gathered around Argyle Street in Uptown, with a few pockets in the suburbs.

One of those spots, which is in west suburban Bloomingdale, has garnered attention.

You’d think with a name like Pholicious, the emphasis of this restaurant - tucked into a Bloomingdale strip mall - would be the beefy bowl of pho, jammed with rice stick noodles, cilantro and onions. You’d be partly right, and more on that in a minute. But it’s the banh mi that’ll spin your head, thanks to the owner’s commitment to doing everything herself. 

“I decided to invest my time and study on it and make it better for myself,” said Jeine Tran, the co-owner of Pholicious.

Tran is at the shop by five each morning, baking the bread and making the fillings. Dough is proofed, scored and baked, resulting in a paper thin crust that shatters upon touch, but reveals a pillowy-soft interior.

“You know the bread looks big but it’s crunchy and fluffy,” she said.

First toasted, then slit open…the bread houses an array of fillings all made by Tran and her staff: soft butter and earthy liver paté; crisp, pickled shards of daikon radish and carrot; long, thin sheets of cucumber and jalapeño slivers; slices of head cheese or pork roll or barbequed pork – whatever you decide – then a fistful of fresh cilantro and a ladle of fish sauce. She also offers whole fried softshell crab, or a unique twist, with a layer of fresh garlic sauce topped by a fried lobster tail.

“It’s super hard but it’s worth it and we love it,” Tran said.

Back to the pho. Tran slowly simmers her beef broth, drawing out and concentrating its flavor.

“About a day-and-a-half,” she said.

In addition to the usual rice stick noodles, she adds an entire beef short rib on the bone, a move she first saw in California and Texas.

“So I was like ok, this is a good idea to bring back home to Chicago," she stated.

At the table, a plate full of fresh basil, bean sprouts, jalapeno and lime arrives, in case you want to enhance your bowl. Tran says they try to offer a varied menu – even traditional plates like spring rolls – in case not everyone is interested in their modern offerings.

“So if they bring their friends or family, they can share different things and enjoy our Asian food,” Tran said.

Here's where you can go:


369 W. Army Trail Rd. Suite 24



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