Le Colonial is tucked away in a little alley not too far from the Union Square area in San Francisco. It's not the kind of place that gets walk-by traffic. In fact I doubt anyone just stumbles upon Le Colonial: You're there because you're one of the cool city folks who knows it's there. I was surprised my new car's navigation system even recognized the address. Once there, the tucked-away-in-an-alley location adds to your feeling of being transported to another time and place...in Le Colonial's case, French Colonial Vietnam.
Normally Asian restaurants, no matter how fancy or modern, do pretty well by vegans like me. After all, tofu was an Eastern food staple centuries before it made its way onto Western plates and into our Safeways. but I was attending a large group dinner on Monday night, and those always make me worry about leaving as hungry as I came. Large groups get served set menus, and some restaurants are extremely prickly about going off that plan. It always helps to give the kitchen a heads up, rather than just showing up to foil their well-laid plans, but it doesn't always guarantee a good veg*n meal.
And the set menu laid at every place Monday night was decidedly non-vegetarian, let alone vegan. Everything from the salad to the side dishes had a little something for the omnivore, and nothing for the veg*n. My heart sank.
But, credit where credit is totally due, Le Colonial did a top-notch job of serving me a variety of flavorful and vegan food. by the end of the meal my table-mates were jealous of me, which often happens in these cases.
I had a lovely butter lettuce salad with citrus sections, two kinds of vegetarian rolls...one set a typical spring roll, one set the style where you wrap them in a big lettuce leaf and dip them. They then wrapped up with a wonderful curry made with a variety of tubers and squash, plus some tofu for protein.
I wasn't stuck with one dish while everyone else was served five courses.
I wasn't stuck with pasta marinara or steamed veggies (oh, such a common call from harried kitchens) and best of all, I wasn't stuck with a snotty attitude from servers who don't want to deal with a pesky veg*n.
Le Colonial belied its somewhat hipster, cooler-than-thou exterior (what? inferiority complex? me?) by making me feel right at home...and very welcome.
Yelp'ers seems to like it too, so...if you can find it...I recommend you check out Le Colonial.
Even if you're a pesky veg*n.