Posts Tagged ‘Vietnamese’

Pho Pasteur

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 by virginia

Ever since Josh and I tried out Vietnamese food at Pho Grand last year, we’ve been eager to explore more of the Vietnamese restaurants in Chinatown. We finally found some free time to head downtown on Memorial Day and stopped into Pho Pasteur to check out the offerings there. The restaurant, which is located on the southwestern edge of Chinatown, was bright and clean and a lot of the tables were full. We got a spot in the far corner and settled in to look over the fairly extensive menu.

Even though the restaurant has “pho” in the name, we opted not to get any because it was way too hot outside to think about drinking a big bowl of hot soup. Instead, we decided to start off with one of the house specials – banh hoi bo nuong, which is barbecued beef that you wrap into rice crepes with rice vermecilli and other garnishes.

Ingredients for banh hoi bo nuong

The slices of beef were rolled into a tight spiral before they were grilled, and while they were slightly chewy, they had a nice smokey, sweet flavor.

Barbecued beef

The assorted accoutrement included pickled carrots and daikon, thin rice vermicelli noodles, and lettuce and mint leaves. The pickled vegetables provided a nice crunch, and had a sweet, tangy flavor. I also used a lot of mint in my crepes, which added a fresh brightness to each bite.

Pickled carrots and daikon

Rice vermicelli noodles

Mint and lettuce leaves

We had fun piling on the different ingredients and rolling them into the rice crepes to make our own version of summer rolls. We dipped the rolls into bowls of nuoc cham sauce, a sweet and sour dipping sauce that I really love.

An assembled roll

Nuoc cham sauce

My only complaint about the dish was that the thin rice crepes quickly got glued together on the plate and were hard to separate. While the first few crepes came off cleanly, we really struggled with the rest and ended up tearing most of them. Eventually I gave up on the crepes and wrapped the ingredients in a lettuce leaf, which was still quite tasty.

We also got an order of curry chicken with rice. We were hoping it would be like the curry chicken we had in Singapore and Malaysia, which has a thinner but flavorful curry sauce. However, this version was more like Thai massaman curry. It was a thick brown curry sauce and the chicken was slices of boneless breast meat rather than chicken on the bone. There were also potatoes in the dish, and while I usually like the combination of curry and potatoes, these were a bit undercooked and hard to eat.

Curry chicken with rice

Lastly, we got a bun – rice vermicelli noodles – topped with barbecued pork and spring rolls. The pork was delicious, with the same sweet, smokey sauce that was on the barbecued beef, but the meat was more tender and easier to eat. The spring rolls were hot and crispy, though oddly, they had a distinct vanilla flavor to them. I’m not sure what exactly contributed to the vanilla flavor, but it was slightly off-putting for me. Nevertheless, this is one of our favorite Vietnamese dishes, as it is really refreshing and delicious. The ingredients are simple but pack a lot of flavor.

Bun with barbecued pork and spring rolls

Overall we enjoyed the food at Pho Pasteur, though the curry chicken is a pass. We liked assembling our own summer rolls, and the barbecued pork in the bun noodle dish was fantastic. While I still slightly favor Pho Grand, I would definitely come back to Pho Pasteur, especially to try out their pho when the weather gets cooler. Vietnamese food is quickly becoming one of my favorite types of cuisines, though I think we need to expand our ordering horizons since we always seem to get the same dishes everywhere. If any has any suggestions on what we should try, please let us know!

Pho Pasteur
85 Baxter St. between Bayard and Walker St.
New York, NY


Pho Grand

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 by virginia

So I realize that I’ve been neglecting this blog in terms of NYC restaurant posts. I’m really far behind on posting, considering I have yet to write about the fantastic anniversary meal that Josh and I had at Eleven Madison Park in May. Yes, May. It’s bad. I have restaurant pictures going back farther than that as well. Between work and all the travel posts, I really haven’t put much thought into the NYC restaurant scene, although we have been eating at lots of new places. So I’m going to start mixing in regular posts with the travel posts, and hopefully that will force me to start covering more ground. At the rate I’m going, I’ll still be writing about Peru for the next six months!

In terms of some good meals we’ve had lately, I had an odd hankering for Vietnamese food one weekend so we made the trip down to Chinatown where there are several highly touted Vietnamese restaurants. My hankering was odd because I’ve never really eaten Vietnamese food, aside from a bowl of pho in San Francisco five years ago, plus all the banh mi sandwiches we eat. But I had seen pictures of Vietnamese dishes in several blogs and I just got an uncontrollable craving to try some for myself.

We ended up at Pho Grand, a restaurant that I’ve read about, plus it was super close to the subway. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the restaurant had received an “A” rating on their health inspection, not that a lower rating would have stopped us from going.

The menu was massive, and I started to feel a bit overwhelmed because I had no idea what to order. We selected a pho, since the restaurant has “Pho” in its name. For our other dishes, we ended up choosing “Cari Ga”, or curry chicken, because we’ve still been searching for a curry chicken that is similar to the dish we had on Sentosa, in Singapore. Lastly, we ordered “Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong”, which is grilled pork and spring rolls with lettuce on rice vermicelli.

The pho we chose was the “Xe Lua”, which was beef soup with rice noodles and six different cuts of beef, including brisket, tripe, tendon, eye of round, navel(?) and frank (flank?). It came with a little dish of fresh bean sprouts and basil that we mixed in, plus a wedge of lemon that we squeezed into the soup. It was an enormous portion and we dug in right away. The slices of rare beef on top were super tender but my favorite pieces were the chewy bits of tendon and tripe. The soup itself was flavorful yet light, and the lemon juice and fresh basil really brightened it up.

Pho xe lua

The curry chicken was pieces of leg and wing in a large bowl full of curry sauce and potatoes. The chicken had bones and skin so the actual meat was a bit sparse, but everything was tender and pretty tasty. The curry sauce was rich but not overwhelming with coconut milk, and it’s the best version that we’ve had so far in the city. I would improve it by adding some more spice and punch, since it was just slightly on the mild side.

Curry chicken

We had a choice of rice, vermicelli, or bread to accompany the curry. We chose the bread since that was what we had on Sentosa. It was a long piece of french bread that wasn’t as crispy on the outside as we would have liked, but it was fresh and chewy in the middle. We ripped off chunks of the bread and tucked in some chicken meat, then soaked it all in the curry sauce before gobbling it up.

French bread to go with the curry

The grilled pork and spring rolls with lettuce on rice vermicelli dish is the one that threw me off the most. I thought it was the dish where you wrap the pork or spring roll in lettuce leaves with some of the rice noodles and eat it like a summer roll (turns out that dish is called “Banh Hoi Thit Heo Nuong”). What arrived was just a large pile of rice vermicelli topped with some pieces of grilled pork and spring rolls. The lettuce was shredded and buried underneath the noodles. It came with a little bowl of nuoc cham sauce, a sweet and sour dipping sauce that usually accompanies fried spring rolls. We didn’t know if we were supposed to pour the sauce over the dish, or to pick up bites and dip it into the sauce. I was afraid of committing a faux pas, so I actually had Josh google how to eat the dish. Turns out we were supposed to dip bites into the sauce so that’s exactly what we did.

Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong - grilled pork and spring rolls with lettuce on rice vermicelli

I was worried that Josh would think the dish was too plain and get mad at me for ordering it, but he absolutely loved it! The rice noodles by themselves were plain but they had a nice chewy texture. When combined with the pork or the pieces of spring roll and dipped into the nuoc cham sauce, it was a great mix of flavors. The pork was slightly sweet and smokey and the spring rolls were crunchy and meaty. There were also pieces of pickled daikon and carrots that added a niceĀ  tangy crunch. It was a filling dish yet light enough that we didn’t feel heavy after eating the whole thing.

Overall we both really enjoyed our foray into Vietnamese food at Pho Grand. We thought all the dishes were really tasty and well prepared, though we really don’t have a basis for comparison since we’re Vietnamese food newbies. Service was fast and efficient, and prices were pretty cheap. We got a ton of food for about $20, and we had an entire takeout container of pho left over that we took home with us. I definitely plan on eating Vietnamese food more often, and this was a good place to get our feet wet. Vietnam is one of the places on our pre-baby bucket list, mostly because we’ve heard the food there is wonderful. If what we had at Pho Grand was authentic, then we’re definitely in for a treat.

Pho Grand
277 Grand St. at Forsyth St.
New York, NY

Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong