Very little has changed since Le Colonial’s opening in July 1996. Most of the original menu items remain intact and are prepared by the executive chef Chan Le, now accompanied by her son. The same silver-haired maître d' sat us, while a bronzed bartender made our too-fruity cocktail. It is a bit of a time capsule, reminiscent of a less trendy time. Here, the food is as much of a mouthful as the names of the dishes.
Offerings such as the Ca Bam Xuc Bahn Trang were simple in presentation but bold in flavor. Wok-seared monkfish was seasoned with lemongrass and peanuts, and served on roasted poppy seed rice crackers. The delicate fish carried a lot of spice in each bite carefully placed on the thick cracker. The lemongrass added an additional layer of freshness to the light dish - the perfect start to a meal filled with rich sauces, bold curries and unapologetic flavor.