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Entertainment & the Arts: Friday, August 29, 2003

Dining Deals

Send your taste buds to Vietnam at Pasteur's in Everett

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Just south of Everett off Highway 99 sits this strip-mall joint that thousands drive by every day (you can spy it from the window). Judging from the feedback we get, not just a few of them stop.

They're coming, reportedly, for the pho and the rest of the many noodle dishes — pan-fried egg noodles with seafood, rice vermicelli with grilled pork and fried egg rolls — and for the $2.50 banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) at lunchtime. Some aren't coming at all, preferring instead to order out for their soups and spring rolls and noodle plates, which arrive to destinations within three miles as long as the order tops $20.

Pasteur's Noodle Soup

12025 Highway 99, Everett,




Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

Beer and wine / credit cards: MC, No Deliveries / no obstacles to access

That won't be a problem. Pasteur's has for two years been dishing out food so delicious, so authentically Vietnamese, it all but exhales the essence of the country. It's a place where herbs burst boldly upon the palate — you cilantro-phobes, be warned — and where broths breathe vapors as complex and fragrant as French perfume.

The menu offers all the variety we've come to expect from Vietnamese cafes — hot pots, skillet dishes, vermicelli bowls, iced drinks galore (including bubble tea) — and includes a terrific variety of phos, the large size of which will effortlessly feed two hungry diners.

As for atmosphere, you can indeed expect something more upscale than the locale across the street from Home Depot might bespeak. It's polished, with a bar set up at one end and plenty of tables up front. Stylish pendant lamps lend a little cosmopolitan flair, while a pretty formidable language barrier — no barrier to accommodating service — keeps things suitably international.

Check please

Spring roll: This appetizer is simple, no doubt about it: shrimp, pork, lettuce and rice noodles wrapped inside a neat little rice-paper packet, with peanut sauce for dipping. Done well, it's a little package of springtime. Done flawlessly, as at Pasteur's, it's a helium balloon of fresh perfection, with a nice potent sauce as counterpoint.

Brisket and meatball pho: The large is a tureen the size of a swimming pool, so order advisedly, then dive in. Slurping this, one can tell where Pasteur's gets its word-of-mouth: The pho is fragrant and lush, featuring big hunks of brisket and meatball along with scallions, white onions and plenty of cilantro. Alongside arrives a cold plate with palatable decorations: bean sprouts, basil, lime and jalapeño. The fun is in adding a little of this and a little of that — and even more fun at Pasteur's due to the stunningly complex broth.

Rice with lemongrass and ginger chicken: A festival of fresh vegetables — carrots, broccoli, greens and baby corn — appear with chicken and cilantro in a fry-up over rice. The marquis players — lemongrass and ginger — were clearly in evidence, though unintegrated throughout the whole. The result was a bit of a schizophrenic experience — one bite sublime with ginger, the next bereft, the next alive with lemongrass, the next, well, dead. All that said — the freshness of the ingredients and the height of the high points rendered the overall experience a positive one.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Spring roll $2.95

Brisket and meatball pho $6.75

Rice with lemongrass and ginger chicken $6.95

Tax $1.32

Total $17.97

Kathryn Robinson: kathrynrobinson@speakeasy.net


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