Across the road from Parramatta’s Lee Chef is Pho Pasteur, a long-lived, almost 30-year old Vietnamese restaurant that’s since extended tendrils across Sydney.
We had the Large Special Beef Pho with extra meat ($20). The flavour of this pho was good, with a lighter tasting but still umami-packed soup, a mix of rare beef, beef tendon, beef rumen, and beef balls, and a garnish of freshly chopped shallot. Like the rest of the bowl, the serving of bean sprouts, Thai basil, and chillis was fresh and adequate. Though the flavour was good, we thought that the balance of meats did skew heavily towards the rare beef side, with our large bowl only featuring one solitary beef ball cut in half, even though we had optioned it out with extra meat. The bowl, overall, is almost matched punch-for-punch with its cross-street neighbour, but I think that given the filling imbalance I’d lean slightly towards Lee Chef’s.
Though a big fan of quail egg in meals like malatang, I’d never actually eaten quail the bird until this visit to Pho Pasteur. I had seen my parents order it occasionally at Chinese restaurants as a child, however I was always too spooked by the small size of the bird to eat them. To be honest, after trying the quail at Pho Pasteur I don’t think I really missed out on much. The two whole quails ($18) were deep fried, and quite salty, served with a zesty dipping sauce. Though the quail pieces might have looked juicy from certain angles, a quick flip around revealed that the opposite service was positively concave – these were lean birds indeed. It took quite a bit of t to harvest the meat from these quail, which didn’t really taste that different to duck or chicken. I don’t think I’d order this again – I’d go straight for the crispy skin chicken which is also on offer at Pho Pasteur – but this may very well be a comment on my personal preferences rather than the restaurant’s ability.
I was not a big fan of this eggplant and pork mince hot pot ($17). Though the taste and size of this hot pot was good, it was just filled to the brim with oil, making it very difficult for me to eat without hating myself. Rice is a necessary evil whilst eating this dish, but perhaps a course of orlistat or plasmapheresis would be better accompaniments.
Pho Pasteur’s offerings have a great deal of crossover with nearby Lee Chef’s. One of Pho Pasteur’s strengths is its actual printed menu, which features photos of many of their dishes, hence not leaving things up to the imagination as Lee Chef does. I think that ultimately both restaurants provide good quality Vietnamese and Chinese food, and the restaurant of choice will be up to whichever one is open at the time (Lee Chef is closed on Sunday nights, but open later on other days).
Pho Pasteur Parramatta
137 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 9635 0782