A good beef noodle soup can bring you back from the dead. The combination of full fl avoured beef broth, thin slices of beef, fl at rice noodles and green onion cut with a squeeze of lemon and brightened with torn basil leaves and crunchy bean shoots is enough to revive the sick, the depraved and the downright hung over.
But before the beef soup we plump for Pho Pasteur’s super-sized spring rolls. Served with half a head of iceberg lettuce and pile of mint, the idea is to wrap the spring roll in the greens then dip in a mix of palm sugar and fi sh sauce and chilli. They’re nice here, too – you don’t often hear “have a nice meal” in Laminex restaurants – that costs extra. Also, very coolly, there’s a bottle of Squid Brand fish sauce on every table (Squid is, bar none, the best fish sauce available in Australia).
The restaurant looks like an old milk bar with mirrored columns running all the way down the restaurant, lime green tiles, plastic plants and very interestingly, Latino music playing in the background. It seems there’s an unspoken line you cross where on one side of the street you’re surrounded by Hi Fi shops, banks and the great looming Westfield shopping centre and on the other are Chinese barbecue restaurants, Japanese bakeries and Vietnamese soup shops.
Soda chanh (lemon soda) is served in (plastic) old-fashioned milk bar glasses and the pho is the best outta Bankstown. Mixed pho (raw, cooked and beef tendon) has an incredibly rich, fl avour packed broth and served, happily, with basil rather than mint – the inferior herb that a lot of pho places are using now because it’s cheaper than basil.
Pho Pasteur may share the same name as the restaurant on George street in the city but it’s light years ahead in terms of food, service and décor. Take us to Parramatta any day for this one.