A foodtiq adventure is about tasting the story on a plate and sharing stories at the table. A foodtiq is not exclusive to food; it is about the complete experience. Taste is contextual. Emotion, environment, and dining company, directly influence how we share and how we taste. 1st Breakfast, 2nd breakfast, Elevenses, Luncheon, Tea, Dinner, Supper…these meal-time gatherings inform the way we taste life. On this note, I begin this weeks foodtiq!
I’ve always admitted that I am ruled by my passions. My passion is culture. When I foodtiq, I search for an experience with culinary imagination and an authentic point-of-view. The creative process is a delicate, vulnerable one. My heart is always inspired by people who are vulnerable in some way. Similarly, I search for this vulnerability when I dine. You can taste it in the food. Vulnerability is beautiful and it is the muse that evokes creative expression.
Craving bold and memorable flavors, I visited Le Colonial. During my lunch, a discussion about the topic of beauty ensued. It was appropriate and inevitable that this topic arise given the romantic and exotic nature of Le Colonial. The tables are pristine ornamented with sultry, pink orchids and the restaurant is designed to filter natural light through the terrace and into the dining room. Like this weeks icon Elizabeth Taylor, the Le Colonial experience is Taylor-made to provide an idyllic, cultural escape and transport you to the shores of Hanoi. Flavorings of fish sauce, lemon grass, lime juice, and fresh herbs, create multidimensional-savory sauces that are sure to keep you thinking about them long after you’ve left the restaurant. Like a priceless piece of art, some dishes possess star power that overwhelm your taste buds and remain well-preserved in your mind’s tasting collection. Le Colonial serves some dishes that possess this rare star-power.
The Le Colonial orchid. Everyone admires a rare flower like an orchid, especially orchids that perfume the room with beauty.
1. “Ban Cuon”
Ban Cuon is one of the eleven appetizers offered at the restaurant. “Ban Cuon” is a steamed, rice roll that is comparable to a light crepe. These savory, rice crepes envelop sauteed, minced chicken and wood ear mushrooms. The bean sprouts, fried onions and chili-lime, garlic sauce are what balance the dish and highlight traditional Vietnamese-flavors. As a major rice-noodle fan, I adore the sticky-soft texture-polarity of the dish. For other appetizers, I recommend the shrimp beignets “Tom Cuon Ram” and the chicken, salad rolls “Goi Cuon Ga.”
2. “Goi Bun So”
The “Goi Bun So” tastes like you’d imagine from the description. In comparison to everything else we ordered, it was not anything too special. The noodle-salad-dressing proportions were not particularly favorable. The dish was a bit overdressed for my liking. Otherwise, the scallops were nice. Recommendation: skip on the salad and go for the scallops. Hope you have generous scallop-sharers!
3. “Pho Oxtail Soup”
The Pho is pho-nomenal. Mentioned prior, I’m a big noodle fan. Traditionally, pho is a beef noodle soup made with either brisket or slices of steak. In a restaurant like Le Colonial, they create a luxurious version of pho, using tender slices of beef tenderloin. The tenderloin is what makes the difference in the pho-stock, separating Le Colonial pho from that of the usual noodle vendor. Topped with crunchy bean sprouts that steam with the heat of the soup, lime-juice, and a combination of fragrant herbs, the pho will have you searching for creative ways to “properly” lick the bottom of your bowl.
4. “Ga Xao Cari”
“Ga Xao Cari” is the golden girl of curries in Chicago. It is luscious, flavor-rich, and voluptuous in all the right ways. The dark-meat chicken, coconut-infused, yellow-curry sauce is simmered to perfection. My favorite part of the dish is the eggplant and the cashews. I get hungry thinking about how the eggplant just melts in your mouth. I’m sure it would be ElizabethTaylor-approved if she were to taste it. The food-loving lady did have quite the palette. Ms. Taylor’s daily lunch consisted of peanut-butter, bacon sandwiches on French baguettes. Never settle for anything but the best. If you are a curry-fan, curry on-over to Le Colonial and taste this curvy, robust dish. Maybe pair it with Cheateau Margaux 1945 in honor of Ms. Taylor?
5. “Ca Hap”
The “Ca Hap” is a interesting fish-dish. In this dish, the Chilean Sea Bass is sliced thinner than the usual cut that it is prepared in. However, do not be disappointed by this minute detail. The “Ca Hap” is a ginger marinated gem that uses the traditional Asian-steaming method of cooking. It is is a dish that requires proper technique but when done properly, the dish yields a light, delicate, flavor-combination that is delightful. The Ca Hap is a dish you need to try to and tiq for yourself. Each person has a different perspective on the dish.
DEGREE OF TASTE = SUPER TASTY
I look for extraordinary for my tasting adventures. Extraordinary is about thought, detail, and flavor consideration. Le Colonial possesses an authentic, flair that is classical and evocative. Ralph Waldo Emerson once expressed, “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” The flavors of Le Colonial express a love of beauty and set the standard high for the art of French-Vietnamese tasting. For this reason, Le Colonial receives an SUPER TASTY degree of taste.
Till next tiq,
Mangez bien (Eat well, Live well)
|Address: 937 N Rush St Chicago IL 60611|
|Phone: (312) 255-0088|