709 George St, Haymarket
Phone: (02) 9212 5622
I first tried Pho Pasteur last year in May. I was in Sydney for a conference, and, well, the conference food was abominably bad. Thankfully, the hotel we were staying in was not far from Central Station so only a short walk to Chinatown. And on the South end of Chinatown,are a smattering of Vietnamese restaurants. We all know my weakness for pho by now, right?
I stopped in at Pho Pasteur, purely because it was the closest pho joint to the hotel, but it also helped that it was referencing Pho Hoa in Sai Gon (on Pasteur St) which is an institution in pho. And I wasn’t disappointed, that time. The pho was good! The broth was flavoursome without being overtly MSG-laden, and the beef-to-noodle ratio was satisfying.
I returned with Mr I and Ms D more recently, after we were disappointed by Gumshara’s early closing time of 8:30pm on a Saturday night.
We shared some prawn spring rolls to begin with – these were prawn reasonably good, though the amount of nuoc cham
(fish sauce for dipping) was pretty paltry.
Mr I stuck to his regular, the pho bo tai –
pho with rare beef – which he was pretty happy with. Pho Pasteur seems to be of that school which prepares its rare beef by finely dicing it (like a tartare) as opposed to finely slicing it. While this means you can get away with serving a cheaper cut of beef, this isn’t always a bad thing, as these cuts often have better flavour, and I’ve seen this practice quite often in Viet Nam.
Ms D had my personal favourite, the pho bo dac biet
– special beef pho, with fatty beef flank, beef balls, tendon and tripe.
Having tried the pho before, I thought I’d be adventurous, and try their bun bo Hue.
BIG mistake. This was probably the singular worst version of bun bo Hue I’ve ever eaten. There was virtually no chilli, and the broth tasted more like a bak kut teh
than a bun bo Hue
. There was a serious absence of pork knuckle, too. Words cannot convey how disappointed I was by this dish.
So moral of the story? When you go to a pho joint, get the pho. MAYBE try spring rolls or the com tam (broken rice). Do NOT deviate. Or you will be sorry.