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Monday, February 28, 2011

Pho Pasteur, Haymarket, Sydney

Bánh hỏi chả giò seafood spring roll with steamed rice noodle $9.00

How can you not love a dish involving spring rolls? I'm a sucker for bánh hỏi chả giò at Vietnamese restaurants, the perfect excuse to crunch into spring rolls under the guise of eating a salad.

We've stopped in at Pho Pasteur on George Street several times lately, always filled with a gaggle of office workers, uni students, Vietnamese families and curious tourists. The dining room is tightly packed with chairs and tables, but it's a cosy squish, filled with a merry chatter.  Down the back is a roomier but more dilapidated section. You'll get a view of the action in the kitchen, but you'll also see the dirty dishes too.

Inside Pho Pasteur

Menus are handed out but the brief list of choices are also printed on the wall. Most dishes are single-serve and not designed for sharing, probably a good thing considering the lack of space on the tables.

Porcine treasure

Spring rolls with steamed rice vermicelli noodles are a glorious compromise between deep-fried indulgence and the virtue of salad. You can order them in a bowl of vermicelli noodles, but I prefer the hands-on version, wrapping the spring roll in a lettuce leaf with a soft mat of vermicelli noodles and bright leaves of Vietnamese mint and purple shiso. Dip the parcel in a bowl of nước chấm -- a sweet dressing made from fish sauce, lemon juice and sugar -- and savour the crunch of spring roll pastry shards against crisp lettuce and the dribble of sauce down your chin.

As I piled the vermicelli into my lettuce cup, I stopped short when I found a cube of pork. This was why I had tasted such deliciousness, a dice of pork belly deep-fried so the layer of fat was rendered to a crouton-like crunch.

Grilled pork and spring roll with tomato rice $10.00

What we have noticed at Pho Pasteur is the easy accommodation of most requests. Swapping of components can usually be done. The grilled pork and spring roll above was supposed to come to vermicelli, but it was served with tomato rice on request. The only hurdle we have encountered is with vegetarian food, of which there are no options. Miss Veg asked for summer rolls without pork, but was told to 'just take the meat out yourself and eat it'.

Sugar cane prawns with vermicelli $11.00

We've eaten our way through much of the menu. Sugar cane prawns are always a hit, a huddle of sweet soft prawn paste grilled on skewers of sugar cane which you can chew on when you're finished.

Grilled pork with vermicelli $9.00

Grilled pork was a little disappointing, devoid of the usual lemongrass marinade that caramelises to a charcoaled sweetness.

Deep-fried chicken with vermiclli $9.00

I find it hard to go past deep-fried, and the deep-fried chicken delivered - succulent flesh beneath a shattering crackle of skin, and bones you can crunch on with pleasure.

Seafood noodle soup $10.50

If deep-fried isn't your thing (apparently these people do exist), you can slurp down a cavernous bowl of seafood noodles, slippery rice strands huddled in a clear sweet soup and topped with peeled prawns, curls of squid and squeaky sprigs of fresh coriander.

Fresh rice noodles

Phở gà  chicken noodle soup $9.00

Phở is always popular, available in the standard beef and chicken variations, with optional upgrades to "special" that generally involve tripe and tendons. Clear stock, silky noodles and a side plate of bean sprouts, fresh lemon and Vietnamese basil, are ideal for when you're feeling under the weather.

But I also find spring rolls and crispy skin chicken put in a spring back in my step too.

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Pho Pasteur on Urbanspoon

Pho Pasteur
709 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 5622

Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday 10am-9.30pm

Also at:
Bankstown - 295 Chapel Road, Tel: +61 (02) 9790 2900
Parramatta - 137 Church St, Tel: +61 (02) 9635 0782
25 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/28/2011 03:34:00 am


  • At 2/28/2011 3:58 am, Anonymous Simon @ the heart of food said…

    Love how the Vietnamese do spring rolls, with the lettuce and nuoc cham.

    My mouth is watering just looking at all that nice food :)

  • At 2/28/2011 5:10 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    I always find it difficult not to order spring rolls or at least the rice paper rolls when eating Vietnamese. Haven't been to Pasteur for yonks but everything still looks good.

  • At 2/28/2011 6:54 am, Anonymous Adriana said…

    This is hands down my favourite Pho restaurant in Sydney - I have been coming here for years. iTs a bit of a hidden gem - once youo get past the shouting waiting staff and formica tables - the food is delish!

  • At 2/28/2011 7:13 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    When I think about it, five years have passed since I last at at this gem. Shame about the lack of lemongrass on the pork

  • At 2/28/2011 8:48 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Helen, was that "non-deep-fried lovin' people do exist" comment a dig at me? ;) Well, I'll have you know I'm most interested in the sugar cane prawns with vermicelli. Or wait, maybe there isn't anything deep fried in that either... :P

  • At 2/28/2011 8:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Food looks good and the place is always packed, I wonder why I haven't tried it yet.

  • At 2/28/2011 9:24 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    teehee deep fried nubbin of fat! go you good thing!

  • At 2/28/2011 9:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I went to Pho Hoang Gia in Homebush West just a week ago for the thit nuong, prawns on sugar cane, and the bun cha gio. [Check my foodspotting, you'll know which one] I really enjoyed it but I've not found as place in Sydney that does sugarcane prawns done the same way as back home - with the vermicelli pancake things and the mountain of herbs in the middle of the table.

  • At 2/28/2011 10:05 am, Anonymous Gastronomous Anonymous said…

    oh yum!!! i havent been to pho-pasteur for such a long long time! it used to be my lunch spot during uni days!

  • At 2/28/2011 10:44 am, Anonymous TFP @The Food Pornographer said…

    I love everything pictured and described in this post, but most of all that little nugget of pork fat and that beautiful crispy skinned chicken. Yes, a big bowl of hearty noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food for many, but +1 ultimate-ness with crispy chicken skin.

  • At 2/28/2011 10:59 am, Blogger Mel said…

    This place was my first adventure into Vietnamese food - about 10 years ago with my best friend. I've been addicted ever since (I think mainly to those little nubbins of pork belly I find in the dishes). Noms.

  • At 2/28/2011 12:24 pm, Blogger KayB said…

    I always hit up the place next door (at least once a week!), the one decked out in all the orange! Their braised beef vermicelli is the best. I’m a creature of habit, but maybe I should venture next door for something different..

  • At 2/28/2011 3:48 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    I can't believe that I still haven't been here. And with that roll call of everything yum in Vietnamese cuisine, I'm not sure why I haven't yet...!

  • At 2/28/2011 4:23 pm, Blogger susan said…

    Yum I feel like some Pho now! Those spring rolls look delicious also. I love how she said to just take the meat out, hilarious.

  • At 2/28/2011 6:35 pm, Anonymous Dumpling Girl said…

    I love this place, it's been a while as I use to lunch here every week, number 12 the pork chop with egg on the menu is my absolutely favourite and their spring rolls that you wrap with the lettuce, can't remember what number that one is anymore. For something healthier I have their grill beef with vermicelli :)

  • At 2/28/2011 6:45 pm, Blogger Jen said…

    I get a pho craving about once a week so it's hard to try different things when I go to Vietnamese restaurants. I always order pho, but maybe I should try other things. The sugarcane prawns look really good!

  • At 2/28/2011 10:29 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    I used to love the uni days when I would drop in here for an early dinner before hitting the books again!

  • At 2/28/2011 11:28 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hannah - It's not a jibe, just admiration at others' self-control. lol.

    Hi Anon - You can get the sugarcane prawns here with vermicelli, but my favourite place to have this is at Tuong Lai, Cabramatta.

  • At 3/01/2011 1:18 am, Anonymous foodie and the chef said…

    You had me at deep-fried... this is my next Haymarket eating destination. Great pics.

  • At 3/01/2011 2:39 pm, Anonymous Zina @ tastedbytwo said…

    This Pho Pasteur branch (and Gia Hoi next door) is a godsend when I have cravings in the city.

  • At 3/03/2011 1:28 pm, Anonymous Susan Bennett said…

    I'm drooling.

  • At 3/03/2011 3:45 pm, Anonymous aparrafan said…

    I love Pasteur. My way of getting a taste of "home" since i live in the city. I recently discovered that they had banh hoi (sheets of vermicelli) which is great. Very hard to find that in the city away from Cabramatta.
    The grilled pork and vermicelli is perfect for summer days with Pho being a belly warmer for the colder months.

  • At 3/06/2011 11:46 pm, Blogger Audrey said…

    One of my favourite place to dine during lunch-time. However, I call it Rude Pho rather than Pasteur because the staffs tend to be a little rude at times.

  • At 3/07/2011 2:48 pm, Anonymous Kiera said…

    i haven't tried to vietnamese cuisine yet and i think this is the spot for it!

  • At 11/02/2014 3:15 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    The sugar cane prawns there are excellent.


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