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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Dish: Bun Rieu (Crab Cake Noodle Soup) & Pho Tai Nam (Rare Beef Brisket Noodle Soup) @ Pho Pasteur

The Dish: Bun Rieu & Pho Tai Nam
Where: Pho Pasteur, 525 Dundas St. W. Toronto

Pho Pasteur is a twenty-four hour Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of downtown Toronto's Chinatown that is one of the best places to get pho, a traditional Vietnamese street food and soup, in the city. Unlike many of the places we review, it also has lots of seating and excellent, very fast, table service. (It is, one must note, cash only however, so be prepared!)

There are lots of great reasons to go to Pho Pasteur, from their terrific Shrimp Rolls, to the excellent prices, to their delightful rice dishes, but there are two soups that they serve that are so good that they deserve a special mention; the Pho Tai Nam and the Bun Rieu. These keep me coming back for lunch, dinner and, were I still footloose and fancy free, they would no doubt draw me in for a late night, after the bars close, meal!

The Pho Tai Nam (number 6 on the menu) is a rare beef brisket pho with thin rice noodles. It comes in a nicely salty and seasoned broth and the beef cooks as you stir it into it. This assures that it will be tender every time. For added flavour and spice ask for a side dish of Satay Sauce to mix in. It is a quintessential pho dish and it is done perfectly. Pho Tai Nam is available in sizes from small to large, but the portions are generous and a medium will certainly satisfy most people for lunch. At $8.99, it is hard to beat.

The Bun Rieu (number 20 on the menu) is a crab soup in a spicy, partly tomato based broth with thicker vermicelli noodles. It also has shrimp, sliced pork and an array of other ingredients that give it a terrifically complex flavour where each bite is something new. It is very rich, and its generous size means that for $8.99 it is a really great deal. This is a soup that is a meal and that will warm you on a cold fall or winter's day or night and is truly among the best I have had at any restaurant, Vietnamese or otherwise.

Both dishes are served with a side plate of lime, which should be added to the soups, mint, Thai basil, hot peppers and bean sprouts. 

So next time you are in downtown T.O.. looking for a great inexpensive meal, or looking to take the edge off a long night out, maybe I'll see you there, at 3 p.m....or a.m.!

The Dish is a regular feature that will look at one dish that we particularly love at a restaurant, diner, food truck, etc. Please feel free to submit your favourite dishes from restaurants in your community. Please include a photo of the dish or establishment if at all possible.

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