It’s easy to pass by Pho Pasteur 2, tucked into an unassuming Carrollton strip mall near a Cici’s Pizza and a Colombian restaurant. With the same owners as Richardson’s Pho Pasteur, the Carrollton outpost of this Vietnamese gem delivers a large variety of inexpensive, traditional dishes.
Taking its name from the famous Pho Hoa Pasteur in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Pho Pasteur 2 offers bun (vermicelli noodles), hu tieu and mi (pork and seafood noodle soup), com dia (rice plates), banh mi and, of course, pho.
Start with the goi cuon, Vietnamese spring rolls filled with pork, shrimp, vermicelli noodles, lettuce and mint, wrapped in rice paper. The full order ($5.50) comes with four rolls and two dishes of thick, silky peanut sauce. Add some Sriracha (there are bottles on every table) to the sauce for an extra kick.
If you need a serious jolt of caffeine, try the café den, black iced coffee ($3.25) or café sua da, iced coffee with condensed milk ($3.25). The traditional drip system is placed on the table, and you stir it up and pour over ice. On first taste, the café sua da is a bit of a punch in the face; it is equal parts strong and sweet. After a few more sips, you’ll be ready to order another glass.
The banh mi ($4) are one of the best deals you can find in Carrollton. Get No. 51, with Vietnamese sausage and a fried egg. The rich sausage and runny egg are tempered by the crunchy fresh cucumber, sour pickled carrot and daikon, and bright cilantro. Enveloped by crispy, airy baguette, the banh mi is a cavalcade of texture and flavor.
The broth is what really makes the pho special. It's full bodied and savory without being greasy or heavy. Each bowl comes with a plate characteristically heaped with garnishes: bean sprouts, jalapeños, cilantro, Thai basil and lime wedges. The No. 3, tai gan (rare eye of round steak with tendon) is a standout. The tendon, not chewy at all, nearly melts in your mouth. Be sure to get the steak on the side; it's thinly sliced and comes raw, so when you add it to the warm broth, it just barely cooks through.
Although Pho Pasteur recently raised its prices, $8.25 for a large bowl of pho will not break the bank. It also offers extra-large portions ($9.95), which are far too much for one person but perfect if you’d like to share a few dishes among the table.
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Inside, the eatery is modest and understated, with ceramic tile floors and rows of tables facing a long counter at the back. The service is polite and efficient, but don’t expect detailed explanations of dishes or recommendations other than a quick “No. 14 is good.” Something you can count on, however: Your food will arrive within minutes of ordering — and you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Pho Pasteur 2, 1927 E. Belt Line Road, Carrollton. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.