682 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111-
Pho Pasteur is a Boston institution. If you live in Boston and like Vietnamese food, you have probably gone there. I have been dining there with my family since I was a child (although we would frequent the Pho Pasteur in Allston, now known as Le’s — it is still pretty much the same menu.) On a cold damp day there is really nothing more nourishing for the body AND the spirit than a steaming bowl of Pho, so on this dismal early March day, that is where we headed.
Pho Pasteur sits prominently on the corner of Washington and Beach Streets. Inside is a mid-size, two room restaurant, crammed with Formica tables, plants and strings of lights. This restaurant gets BUSY for lunch and dinner, so the staff can seem curt but they are very efficient. Expect to be rushed through getting seated and ordering.
We each ordered our Pho and waited. The tables have a selection of sauces: Hoisin, Sriracha, and Garlic Chili which is kept in a Lazy-Susan receptacle that also contains the chopsticks, spoons, side plates and whole green chilies. As soon as we ordered, a waiter brought out a plate of the standard Pho accoutrements: Thai basil, lime wedges and raw bean sprouts. And shortly thereafter, our bowls of soup arrived. For those of you who are unfamiliar with eating Pho, you garnish your individual bowl of soup with the bean sprouts and basil (for example, I do not much care for raw bean sprouts but can be extremely heavy-handed with the basil) and give a squeeze of lime on your soup for an refreshing acidic bite.
I ordered the specialty Hue City Soup (Bún bò Huế). As much as I love traditional Pho (with beef) and Pho Ga (with chicken) I think this must be my favorite. It does not have vegetables in it really so I always order it with extra steamed vegetables for a small price. A little internet research has taught me that Huế is the former capital of Vietnam and this soup is heavily influenced by the cooking style of the former royal court. It consists of a rich beef broth that is spicy and heavily flavored with tangy lemongrass. In the broth there are rice noodles, sirloin beef, and a generous helping of thinly sliced onions. There is something so incredibly special about this particular combination, that it is very difficult for me to order anything else when I dine there.
The other Diva ordered the Chicken Curry soup which includes chicken, vegetables and thin vermicelli rice noodles in a curry broth. It was heavily flavored with curry which gave it a nice kick and the combination of spice and soothing chicken soup was just the thing to revitalize this Diva, who was feeling a little run down.
On a cold, wet day Pho Pasteur is a great spot to grab lunch or get some dinner Pho to takeout and enjoy at home.