Finding the finest pho around
Pho Lodge and its owners put the comfort in comfort food
By Josh Koerner
Pho – a Vietnamese-originated soup – heralded for its flavor, simplicity, and availability, grew in popularity quickly across Southeast Asia.
Pho would be greeted with the same popularity when it reached the U.S., spurring literally thousands of Vietnamese restaurants to begin brewing up the savory broth.
Great pho in Green Bay is not hard to find, but when searching for the best, one name always seems to come to folks’ lips: Pho Lodge.
Just one afternoon in the cozy, cabin-themed restaurant makes it clear why fans are quick to rave.
Pho Lodge, located at 445 Cardinal Lane, keeps a bare-bones menu, which allows them to provide lightning-fast service for their high-quality food.
The owners use the time they save in the kitchen to greet and make meaningful connections with their patrons.
There’s just something about a bowl of noodle soup in a snug cabin with friendly folks that puts the spirit at ease.
Beyond Pho Lodge’s inviting atmosphere, it is spectacular at its craft.
The stock for the pho is seasoned to perfection using a decades-old north-Vietnamese recipe that owner Vah Thao said was passed down generations.
As the seasoning steeps like an oversized pot of tea, full beef ribs are added to draw the raw flavor from the bone marrow.
By the time the ribs are garnished with noodles, shrimp and fresh vegetables, the beef ribs are so tender that the bones just slide right out – perfectly complimenting the northern-style broth, which is saltier and more savory than its southern cousin.
The final result is the ultimate culmination of comfort food and flavor balance.
For those who are not sure if they are ready to dive into the deep-end, Pho Lodge’s sweet-glazed beef ribs can make for the perfect transition from the American palate to the pho world.
For this dish, beef ribs from the pho stock are glazed in a sweet and savory sauce reminiscent of an asian-style barbecue, garnished with rice and fried jalapeno and served alongside a small dish of pho broth.
The end result is very much a deconstructed version of the original soup with a few small quirks and nuances.
Between the two, it is hard to say which is more enjoyable and boils down to a matter of personal preference.
One thing is for certain, though: both shine well above the rather plain fried rice which stands as the third and final entree on Pho Lodge’s menu.
That covers the entrees available at Pho Lodge, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to talk about its lone appetizer.
The modest egg roll may look lonely standing in solitude among the appetizers, but there is a quick and simple explanation: they are perfect.
The crunch quickly gives way to a shockingly robust center, which overflows with meaty flavor. The glass noodles seem to intensify the flavor of the sausage as opposed to taking from it, and the edges are garnished with just enough fresh veggies to add depth to the flavor profile.
Not only is this the best egg roll I have ever eaten in a restaurant, I believe it to be the best egg roll I have ever tasted, and I used to think I made some good egg rolls.
Josh Koerner grew up in De Pere and has a passion for local food. He’s written for The NEWcomer and Nosh Green Bay alongside his personal Facebook food blog, Josh Eats Green Bay.