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I am a Houstonian just coming from a conference in Boston. We went to this award-winning restaurant in Boston and found out it's contrary to popular belief. I'm not sure who's judging the pho (must be an american) but believe me, the pho is average (may be a bit subpar in my opinion). The broth is clear but the meat is clumpy. We ordered pho ta'i and guess what we received the bowl, the meat is still red (my wife thought the restaurant serves sashimi because the meat is till very uncook) She had to ask for a bowl of broth just make sure the meat is slightly cooked.
The restaurant is in the Chinatown and when we were there, the cops were frisking a black guy for narcotic. My kid walked into the restroom and found a black guy is playing with himself (this is true). A evening of true adventure !
Being familiar with the best Vietnamese food offering in Houston, San Antonio and Austin, so I chuckled to see the sign "Pho Pasteur" was affixed prominently to a restaurant in Boston. "Pho Pasteur" is a revered name referencing restaurant establishments in Saigon prior to 1975 where Saigoneses went for the best Pho in the city.
In doubt but with high nostalgic expectation, we ordered Banh Xeo (a pan fried crepe) and then Pho Tai Chin. The staff was friendly and was happy to speak to me in Vietnamese, we were trying to teach my American companion the name of different herbs that came with Pho. I was happy to see the herbs were crispy fresh and sumptuous.
The Banh Xeo was extraordinary, and when the Pho arrived, I was immediately impressed by the mouth watering presentation of reddish pink, thinly slided fresh beef laying on top of smooth, fresh white rice noodle in a clear aromatic broth sprinkled with just the right amount of green onions. The aroma coming from the steaming broth was unmistakably and irresistibly Pho (which I thought was a given, but I've eaten too many Pho bowls that did not even smell like one). I quickly submerged the reddish pink slices of beef deeper into the hot broth to let them cook a little more, and then squeezed in a bit of lime juice before we devoured them all.
The meat was absolutely tender, the noodles were soft and smooth, and the flavor was, how do I say, "phlavorful." We were stunted. I always thought to have a good bowl of Pho, one had to be in Houston, or somewhere in California, or in Vietnam..., but in Boston? How did the restaurant get those fresh vegetables that were so fresh that even rivaled those in Houston?
That was June 2006 when we visited "Pho Pasteur." My American companion came back to the restaurant recently on a business trip with a colleague and I was told his colleague was not so impressed with her bowl of Pho. It turned out that she accidentally ordered a mixed meat bowl that included fatty flank and tendon that usually reserved to the more experience Pho afficionado, and she was not so sure about the red colored rare beef either. So if you are new to Pho, please try Pho Chin (cooked brisket) or Pho Tai Chin (cooked and rare slided steak) but quickly dip the rare steak slices into the broth when the hot bowl arrives to let them cook a little further. And remember to squeeze in a little lime juice.
And don't forget to try Banh Xeo at Pho Pasteur. It's extraordinary, the best that I've ever tried, including my own.
C and J
We were thrilled to find this restaurant on a recent trip to Boston...unfortunately the thrill stopped at the door. While the food arrived quickly, that was the last we saw of our waitress, and given that we did not recieve what we ordered (requested Pho Chin, recieved mixed meat bowl...not fun for us), this was not pleasant. We ate what we could stomach, and left no tip. Eh. It also didn't help that there was a table of tranvestites sitting beside us almost knocking us over with their arms whenever they spoke. Hopefully, our experience will be better elsewhere.
For a couple of years I avoided this obvious choice in Boston Chinatown located strategically on the corner of Washington and Beach streets. It just looked too commercial to me. Finally I did give it a fair try. A huge bowl of piping hot Pho Tai arrived in front of me within a couple of minutes and a nerve-racking experiment had begun. I wished had gone there earlier. What a pleasant surprise. Quick and attentive service, excellent, tender Tai (rare beef slices) served on the side with a few wedges of lime, just rightly cooked noodles and fresh greens including leaves of saw grass. Small green chili peppers offered as part of a well stocked condiment tray on the table. At first I thought that my broth was lacking flavor but after soaking the meat in it, adding lime, mint and just a bit of hot chili sauce it turned out to be pretty good. Appearances can be deceiving. Try it!
Restaurant is on the edge of Chinatown so is fairly easy to spot. Decor is dated reminiscent of an old diner. Place is well lit but a bit stuffy. Prices are a bit higher than national averages plus you need to pay for parking at the nearby garages. Service was slightly laggy but within acceptable range as it was more than half full. Presentation was great but ... broth was lacking in flavor. Noodle was so so maybe a bit undercooked. I ordered the special XL for my collegue and I ordered the rare/tendon XL. Even though they are the same price, mine was visibly lacking in the meat department. Looked like I had the same amount of meat/tendon as the special minus the other add on meat, how disappointing. Veggies is very fresh but subdued in variety/quantity. Overall, not quite a must try destination but if you are stuck in Boston chinatown without a car, go for it.