Sunday, November 07, 2010

Pho Pasteur, Parramatta

This stupid ever-changing Sydney weather is a real pain in the butt.

On Thursday night The Boy and I decide to head into Parramatta to check out Parramasala – a South Asian Arts festival.

As part of the festival the council is putting on a market in the Church Street mall, with performers, market stalls and a few Indian food stands.  We’re totally psyched to go and experience a bit of Indian culture.

As we start walking up to Church Street to check out the food and festivities it starts raining…of course!

As neither of us fancy hanging out in the rain we jump on a bus and although heading out to an Indian cultural festival we decide we’ll grab some quick and tasty Vietnamese from Pho Pasteur.

Famous in Vietnam

There are actually two Pho Pasteur’s in Parramatta and we avoid the one at the bottom of Westfield and head to the original Parramatta restaurant on Church Street.

This place is always packed and it looks like we might not get a table.  Oh no!

Lucky for us there’s a table for two right at the very back of the restaurant.  The Boy tells me he feels like we’ve been sent to the naughty corner.
Tray of goodies
After agonising over the menu for what seems like an eternity, we decide (or more accurately I decide) that we’re going to order things that we’ve not had before. 

This leads to more agonising as neither of us are really sure of what to order as the menu is HUGE and I’m a bit unsure of some of the dishes on offer.  I do know I want to avoid anything that says ‘tripe’, ‘blood’ or ‘raw’ so that narrows the choices down a fraction.

Pictures of various dishes on the walls and a second, supplementary, picture menu that has to be crossed reference with the original words-only menu confuses the hell out of me. 

I’m starting to stress out so we quickly grab the waitress and place an order before I have a full blown meltdown due to too many options.

To kick things off we’ve decided on  Fresh Rice Paper Rolls ($7.50).

Fresh rice paper rolls
Normally we’d go for prawn innards, but today we I choose a grilled pork meat ball filling as it is something new for both of us.  The meat ball is actually more sausage shaped, but we don’t mind as it tastes lovely and fresh – just like a rice paper roll should. The peanut dipping sauce is thick and creamy. 

We very democratically divide the third roll in half so everything is even Stephens.

Next up is the Sugar Cane Prawn on Vermicelli Sheets ($14.00).  I have no idea what a Vermicelli Sheet is and none of the pictures around the restaurant or on the menu give me a clue. I’m intrigued.

Before any food actually arrived on our table a plate filled with lettuce leaves, mint and bean shoots arrives, along with a nuoc cham dipping sauce arrived.

Lettuce goodies for...something?

I need to clarify with our waitress if this plate of fresh goodies is for our fresh spring rolls or the sugar cane prawns.  She advises the lettuce is for the Sugar Cane Prawns.  Good to know as I was about to wrap up the fresh spring rolls in lettuce which I’m sure would’ve had the other diners at Pho Pasteur shaking their heads at me.

Our plate has two plump and juicy prawn paste patties skewered on sugar cane stick. They sit atop a thick square bed of vermicelli noodles, topped with chopped shallots, crushed peanuts and some pickled vegetables. The whole thing looks like two fat ladies on top of a white squiggly mattress!

Two fat prawn ladies

I grab a lettuce leaf and pile a little bit of everything inside.  The Boy and I agreed that this is definitely not first date food.  I’ve got food in my hair, hair in mouth and sauce dripping out of my poorly rolled lettuce leaf.  I leave the restaurant with a  big stain on my lap! Classy. 

Roll your own = fail

My favourite part of this dish is chewing on the sugary sweet sugar cane after I’ve stripped it bare of all it’s prawny goodness. I end up with sugar cane juice running down my chin and thank god The Boy is blinded by his love for me and the Combination Hot Pot with Steamed Rice ($15.00) that has just landed in front him.

The Boy's other love
We’ve gotten into a bit of a hot pot fixation lately after having our first hot pot earlier in the year at Hotpot King in Eastwood. The Pho Pasteur offering is a steaming bowl of seafood, carrot, chinese cabbage type stuff, champion mushrooms and baby corn all topped with coriander.  I’m a bit relived I was afraid combination could have meant tripe, blood and or raw meat.

After we’ve finished dinner we wander back to Church Street to see what is going on with Parramasala. Even though it’s still raining we’re transfixed by the live Indian music, festive crowds and amazing light show on the lovely old Town Hall building.

Tonight I’m really in love with Parramatta and its amazing cultural diversity.

Pho Pasteur is at 137 Church Street, Parramatta. 

Pho Pasteur on Urbanspoon


  1. I an so seriously salivating over that meal... I need those prawns! And oh, that light show looks like it was totally worth braving the rain!

  2. They were SO good! As the mess I made attests to!

  3. Beautiful photos! Yummy food.

  4. I've been wanting to go to Parramatta sinc eI first read about the Parramasala festival- it sounds really intesrsting =) I'm going to Parra tomorrow with my friends so hopefully, we'll see something....The Town hall building looks amazing!

    I didn't know there were two Pho Pasteurs =O haha....I always go to this one =) Mmmmm....the sugar cane prawns look delicious!

  5. yum i ♥ the sugar cane prawns there! their crispy skin chicken is always fantastic and the town hall building is so pretty!

  6. Ellie - thanks so much for your comments on my photos! I'm struggling to take photos that don't look like they've been taken by a two year old!

    Von - hope you enjoy Parramatta much going on and so much yummy food. I bet you're happy to be HSC free!

    Suze - the Town Hall was was an entire light show, but the video I took didn't upload to my blog. Sad!

  7. Thanks Jan! They were delicious - so plump and yummy.

  8. i love their seafood spring rolls in haymarket but assume they also have them in parramatta shop. :-)

  9. Hmmm...I'm not sure Simon. I'll have to keep an eye out for them next time. I have had the spring rolls in Haymarket...yum.

  10. Sugar cane prawns are so good. I love the ones you get at Bay Thinh on King, where you roll your own.


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