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Pho Mart

Side Dishes: New Asian in the New North End

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New North Enders have long slurped Slush Puppies at the 1130 Market convenience store on North Avenue. Now they can get their brain freeze alongside a bowl of pho or shrimp Pad Thai.

"I've always wanted to do something on North Ave. . . . Now I finally am," says owner Phuong Lam. Since July 3, Phuong's Kitchen has matched the area's ethnic and demographic diversity with a startlingly varied menu. Lam's family and friends dish up cheese steaks, wings, kim chee and curry crêpes from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and until 9:30 p.m. on Sundays. "We do what is good . . . the parents might want Asian and the kids want a hamburger. We can make the whole family happy," Lam attests.

The most popular dish? She's not sure: "We offer so many choices that people eat a little bit of everything," she suggests, adding that her tiny kitchen does a mean eggroll business. Folks can choose among four varieties or snag two of each - a total of eight eggrolls - for $7.50.

Indeed, most dishes at Phuong's ring up around the $6 mark. Explaining how she can serve such cheap eats, Lam proffers, "We can charge a lower 'North End price,' since we do take-out and we don't have to hire dishwashers. You look at our food and you pay the same price as McDonald's, but we use fresh vegetables. Nothing is frozen and nothing is pre-made."

Outside B-Town, eaters can find Lam's rolls and a few other specialties at the Bayside Triple M Deli and gas station in Colchester's Malletts Bay. Now, that's convenient.

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