Nov 2011

Phở Hòa Pasteur: Phenomenally Phamous Phở

Pho Hoa Pasteur - Saigon

Have you ever noticed that almost every Vietnamese restaurant in America is named either Phở Hòa or Phở Pasteur? Growing up, my family’s two favorite spots in San Diego for Vietnamese food were Phở Hòa in City Heights and Phở Pasteur in Clairmont. It turns out that these restaurants, and hundreds just like them, were channeling Phở Hòa Pasteur, the most famous noodle shop in Vietnam.

Pho Hoa Pasteur - Saigon

From what I gathered talking to Mom and sleuthing around the Internet, Phở Hòa Pasteur has been around for forty-some-odd years. It began as a popular street stall catering to the evening crowd and eventually grew into a revered establishment frequented by locals and tourists alike. It currently occupies a two-story space across the street from The Pasteur Institute, which the street is named after.

In addition to the usual lotus blossom and waterfall paintings adorning the walls, the restaurant has installed a flat screen television to keep tabs on customers seated on the second floor. Now, that’s a first.

Pho Hoa Pasteur - Saigon

The menu here is concise, with diners only choosing whether they want a regular or large sized bowl. Low carb (no noodles) and high carb (no meat) options are also available. Phở Hòa Pasteur charges nearly twice as much as neighboring shops due to its famed status.

Pho Hoa Pasteur - Saigon

On our table was a plate of fresh greenery including basil, sawtooth herb, and rice-paddy herb.

Pho Hoa Pasteur - Saigon

There was also a plate of gio chao quay (Chinese fried dough sticks), which I’d never had served alongside phở before. I’m a purist in situations like these, so I refused to eat them with my noodles. The Astronomer, on the other hand, couldn’t resist dipping the dough into the broth.

Pho Hoa Pasteur - Saigon

Our bowls of phở came topped with thin slices of rare beef and a fistful of scallions and cilantro. Mine had a bit of tripe in it as well because I’ve got a thing for stomach lining. After plucking in herbs and squeezing in lime juice, I was ready to dig in.

Pho Hoa Pasteur - Saigon

The broth was clear and balanced, while the noodles were fresh and soft. What struck The Astronomer and me about our bowls was how similar they tasted to ones we eat in Southern California. It turns out that the Phở Hòas and Phở Pasteurs that line our boulevards stateside draw more than just their names from this iconic noodle shop—their flavors are so very Saigon as well.

Funny how a bowl of phở in Vietnam can take me back to Cali.

For more Vietnamese food adventures from our summer 2011 trip, check out these posts:

Pho Hoa Pasteur
260C Pasteur Street
Ward 8, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Phone: (08) 38297943

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15 thoughts on “Phở Hòa Pasteur: Phenomenally Phamous Phở

  1. Totally understand what you mean—looking at the title, I thought you meant the Pho shop on Valley in SGV!

    Ps. Just tried my first Pho Ga last week. I’ve been missing out all these years!

  2. according to my mama and papa, if you eat at this place and get sick, they will pay for your medical bills. This is how clean they claim to be.

  3. Oh, good to know they’re representin’ the East Side (of the world) well! And yes, I love me some springy sproingy tripe in pho. (WTF fried dough?! Stay away!)

  4. Sawtooth herbs.

    I think I’m repeating myself here, but any decent pho should have this culantro herb as it really accentuates the fragrance and brings the dish alive!! Just wished everyone else does it, just coz I am greedy and self-centred, and want the best whenever possible lol 😀

  5. Great article! It was my favorite place to eat pho when I lived in HCMC. I also always like to eat the quay, especially in the winter. That said, I prefer the northern style pho found in Hanoi, such as on Bat Dan Street, Ly Quoc Su (closed now), or any popular pho shop except the franchises.

  6. This was an excellent place to visit for lunch, full of character. Highly recommend visit here for pho!

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