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Vietnamese noodle shop opens in Superior

Pho Cali opened Dec. 17 at 1320 Belknap St., in the former Lan Chi’s building, and specializes in Vietnamese noodle soup called pho (pronounced fah), is already getting the thumbs up from local residents. Jed Carlson/

The former Lan Chi’s building is starting 2017 with a new paint job, a new menu and a whole new vibe.

Pho Cali opened Dec. 17 at 1320 Belknap St., and the restaurant, which specializes in Vietnamese noodle soup called pho (pronounced fah), is already getting the thumbs up from local residents.

“We loved it, we really loved it,” said Mary Paulus of Superior.

She was first introduced to pho while visiting family in Cleveland, Ohio. She’s enjoyed pho in Minneapolis, Minn., and Naperville, Ill., and was excited to see a local restaurant open.

“I’ve been kind of looking for it in Duluth,” Paulus said. “I was surprised to find it in Superior.”

How did the food at Pho Cali rate?

“I thought it was really right up there with the best,” Paulus said.

She was impressed with the clean, bright interior and the price — less than $20 for a shared bowl of pho, shrimp fried rice and two cups of tea.

“I’m hoping everybody in town tries it,” Paulus said. “I think it’s a really good addition to Superior.”

Owner Andy Tran hails from California, where pho shops are common. Although the restaurant does offer other Asian fare — including fried rice, chow mein and spring rolls — it focuses on Vietnamese food, from pho to rice vermicelli dishes and Vietnamese sandwiches.

“I want to introduce my traditional food to everybody,” Tran said.

Pho is a popular street food in Vietnam. It’s eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

“Anybody, anytime,” Tran said.

A large bowl of the soup is enough for two, Paulus said. In addition to rice noodles, meat and broth, the pho comes with vegetables on the side that diners can add to customize the taste — bean sprouts, a sprig of cilantro, a jalapeno pepper slice and lime wedge. Paulus adds them all, along with a squirt of sriracha.

“I like it a little spicy,” she said.

You can even get pho to go, or delivered, although some assembly is required at home.

The new restaurant has seen steady traffic in its first few days, Tran said, including visitors from Duluth.

“It’s great to have pho here in Superior,” said Sarah Mayne of South Range, who stopped by for a taste. “We had a wonderful dining experience and excellent food at Pho Cali. Everyone should come out and experience the specialty dining experience of pho. It’s also perfect on a cold winter day.”

Pho Cali employs about 10. It is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit the Pho Cali Vietnamese Noodle Restaurant Facebook page, which includes pictures of the menu, or call 715-718-5666.