Pho Pasteur in Lion Plaza, San Jose
Pho Pasteur, the newest tenant in the food court near Lion on Tully, opened a few months ago. I asked the young proprietress if this was related to others of the same name, all presumably in honor of the original in Vietnam. She said her family members own Pasteur in Rosemead/Los Angeles.
After I ordered and paid her for Pho tai duoi bo, $9, she set up a tray for me and asked which of the condiments I’d like. She explained that these additions are self-serve usually but because it was my first time here, she’d help me. I asked for a little sriracha, none of the bird chiles, and some hanh giam. She also asked whether I would like the bean sprouts steamed. Yes!
She plucked out a generous wad of thinly shaved onions, squirted them with a sugar and white vinegar mix to sweeten them up, and added a squiggle of sriracha sauce for good measure. While I’ve had hanh giam in friends’ homes, this is the first time a restaurant has offered me a side of pickled onions.
Here’s what my tray looked like: bowl of pho, raw steak served on the side, rau thom (vegetable garnishes), and dab of condiments.
Besides the steamed bean sprouts, the rau thom plate had basil, sawtooth herb, slices of jalapeño chiles, and a wedge of lime.
Pho tai duoi bo included eye of round steak and oxtail with slender fresh rice noodles. Once warmed up in the hot beef stock, the juicy rare steak was delicious combined with bites of hanh giam. Four small oxtail joints seemed a bit skimpy for the price premium. Also they were undercooked and not all the meat could be pried from the bones. Hanh tran (steamed white stalk of scallion) was a nice addition, and like the hanh giam, not common. The stock hit a middle ground all-round, moderate in beefiness, spices, salt, and sugar, not offending on any count. Not that much minerality, and perhaps a touch of MSG.
The price seemed on the high side for counter service in a food court. While I’m not rushing back, Pho Pasteur put out a good quality bowl of pho with some touches not often seen.