Pho Pasteur (San Jose, CA)

8:00:00 AM

¡Yo Quiero Pho Pasteur!

Close to my house? Check.

Tasty with reasonable prices? Check.

Housed in a former Taco Bell? Check.

Bet you weren’t expecting that last one.

For the longest I can remember, before Pho Pasteur, it was Taco Bell. And Taco Bell didn’t leave, it just moved a few stores down. Now it’s on the far left corner instead of occupying that location.

Reason for their move? I have no clue. Maybe the rent was higher at the original location.

Whichever was the case, Taco Bell ended up moving a couple doors down and Pho Pasteur now occupies the place. If I remember correctly, they opened up in early to late spring, but I didn’t actually try it till later during the summer.

I remembered my first impression of this place wasn’t all that stellar because that day, it was warm and I wasn’t insane enough to eat a piping hot bowl of Pho when it was 80 degrees outside. So I opt for their Com Tam Thit Nuong (broken rice and grilled pork) with grilled shrimps instead.

I should’ve known better to order Com Tam when their name is Pho Pasteur, not Com Tam Pasteur. The pork could use an extra minute or two on the grill because it was lacking in color and grill marks, but had decent flavor. I believe they used lemongrass in the marinade.  The shrimps were nothing to write home about. In fact, they looked a little sad on top of the grilled pork.

And for a restaurant that puts Com Tam on their menu, you would think the standard rice that comes with the dish is broken rice, but this was not the case.

So lesson learned, I will not be reordering the Com Tam at Pho Pasteur. I’ll satisfy my broken rice cravings at Com Tam Thien Huong.

That said, their Pho is worth talking about. At least… according to my dad. He vouches for it the last time we went to Pho Pasteur for dinner. However, the argument could be made that anything tastes good after a long day…

During that trip, I ordered a noodle soup more reminiscent of the Chinese version with fish balls, slices of pork and shrimp. My dad had a large Pho Dac Biet (the special/combination). My bowl of noodles was served piping hot and the broth was light, but flavorful. I tried some of the beef brisket from my dad’s bowl and it was cut thickly, but it wasn’t tough. Good going Pho Pasteur!

Layout wise, the restaurant is modestly decorated--like most Pho restaurants. There’s nothing remarkably memorable about the restaurant, but I figured when you stumble in at 11 PM, buzzed from pre-game, the color of the walls or the type of furnishings are the last thing on your mind.

Due to the fact that this place use to be formerly occupied by Taco Bell, it offers you the unique option of eating your pho outside in the nostalgic fast food seatings.

The "works." The layout switches around, but everything else remains relatively the same. 
I guess what I’m trying to say is: it’s a bit odd, but sometimes this does happen every once in a while, where fast food restaurants close down and is replaced with an establishment that is completely different from the predecessor.

The other example that comes to mind is the old Wienerschnitzel up in Milpitas that is now a Starbucks. I haven’t been up to visit that location yet, but if you have, leave me a message and tell me if the interior still vaguely resembles Wienerschnitzel. Or whether Starbucks has renovated the inside completely.

So the next time you stop on the intersection of Capital and Berryessa and wonder what happened to Taco Bell… now you know.

I wonder-- for nostalgia’s sake, would they let you bring Taco Bell over from a couple doors down and sit down to eat in the outdoor’s seats?

Probably not.

For me, Pho Pasteur will always be Taco Bell because, for the longest I can remember, that’s all it has been. Same with the SAP Center. I still call it the HP Pavilion. Are there places, restaurants and landmarks where you simply can’t shake off its former name?

Pho Pasteur
2481 Berryessa Rd.
San Jose, CA 95133

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  1. The Starbucks is completely renovated, though I don't really remember how the Wienerschnitzel looked like....

    1. They even took out the outside seating? Actually.. I don't really remember if that Wienerschnitzel had outside seating or not. Haha.