Restaurant Review: Pho Pasteur a Classic Choice Anywhere In Boston
Visit Allston or Harvard for Soup, Spring Rolls, Noodles
By Jillian Berry
137 Brighton Ave.
Pho Pasteur is a local Vietnamese chain with branches in Harvard Square, Chinatown, Allston, Chestnut Hill, and Newbury Street. As the name suggests, they specialize in pho, or Vietnamese noodle soup, with beef, chicken, vegetable, and seafood varieties. The soups are simple and fresh, and they come with a side plate of crisp bean sprouts, mint, and lime. The sizes range from small (a meal in itself) to extra-large (bring some friends) and are a real bargain at $4.50-$7 (depending on the soup and restaurant location).
Equally popular are the Goi Cuon ($3.50-$4), or fresh summer rolls, which consist of shrimp and/or pork (vegetarian ones are also available with tofu), vermicelli (rice noodles), lettuce, and mint wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce. I’ve been eating these for years now, and I have never tasted any better. And with two rolls per order, I often get a couple of orders for the table to share, and there are never any left over. I recommend asking for an extra order to go, as the rolls make a great snack or light meal the next day.
If you want to make a meal out of the summer rolls, you can order the Banh Hoi ($9-$11), or steamed vermicelli. You get all the makings for the summer rolls, including a bowl of boiling hot water to soak the rice paper, and you assemble the rolls yourself. Though the result is tasty, if you do not have much experience making summer rolls, I would recommend just sticking with the appetizers.
If you are not in the mood for soup, I would recommend their Pad Thai ($8). You might not expect a Vietnamese restaurant to serve good pad thai, but Pho Pasteur’s is amazing. The noodles are lightly stir-fried with vegetables and your choice of protein, and the dish has a wonderfully sweet and subtle flavor that is not dominated by peanuts. The serving is large and you might be able to squeeze two meals out of it.
Pho Pasteur also offers a wide variety of Vermicelli ($6-$7) and other traditional Vietnamese dishes that are served family style. Overall the food is great, and the prices are reasonable. You are best off going with a group and sharing a few dishes as the servings tend to be large, and they have such a large number of options, you will want to try a little of everything. The different branches each have a little different style and taste. Harvard Square is the most convenient from MIT, but my favorite is Allston (plus it’s a little cheaper), so if you have the time, I would suggest making the trek across the river. Either way, you can’t lose.