It may look like a simple soup dish, but the pho noodles from an outlet of this Pasteur's chain speaks volumes in my heart. I first came across them upon moving into Sydney and recently was delightfully surprised to find this unique food offering still alive and available from the very first chain of modest shops making them. The world-wide Pasteur chain has a business history pre-Australia and is an illustration of the combination of French influence, Asian spices and Vietnamese creativity. You can find noodle soups in various forms in several countries, from the clear forms with dumplings to Japanese bean miso and chilli laden encounters in tom yam and prawn flavoured versions. The stock soup of the pho utilises the potent aromatic stewing of cinnamon and meat bones, filled in by chicken or beef slices and tempered by fresh bean sprouts, fiery chilli cuts, a twist of a lemon slice and the headiness of basil leaves. It is a product of the Vietnamese penchant for fresh produce and a solid brew.
The look and feel of the Pasteur shops in Sydney have not changed much despite the passing of the years. Even if they were the pioneers, they now face competition from many to cater for a large regular market. It is not just the pho which attracts this clientele - my other favs from the Pasteur days include the broken rice dishes, the crispy fried chicken served on a bed of tomato-flavoured rice, the paper thin rolls with the most sweet tasting refreshing vegetables and the sugar cane cuts with prawns. Why the name Pastuer? Louis would have been proud.