Whole Life Magazine

April / May 2017

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/807408

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Page 14 of 43

L ong established in Orange County, Au Lac's beautifully prepared Vietnamese vegan cuisine now has a home in downtown Los Angeles. With both raw and cooked veg- an dishes on the menu, there's plenty to experience. And the elegant, upscale atmosphere adds to the pleasure. There's a lovely piano, a full bar offering delightful craft cocktails, and evocative colored lighting that creates a romantic atmosphere. Owner Mai Nguyen opened the Fountain Valley location in 1997, uniquely combining traditional Vietnamese cooking with the expertise of vegan Chef Ito. While Chef Ito keeps a reli- gious vow of silence, he helms Au Lac's kitchen with a beautiful culinary style which requires no verbiage – it's all about the fl avor. From curried rice with macadamia cream to a pho rich with herbs, the food here is something to write home about. The downtown location is run by Mai's daughter, Linh Nguy- en, and both the delicious food and relaxing ambiance are most enjoyable. The appeal of the food – its fl avorful herbs, its cleverly creat- ed recipes that eschew meat with no fl avor loss – is not limited to vegan diners. Anyone who enjoys Asian cuisine would be hard pressed not to savor the rich and savory tastes and the complex, creative seasoning. We started with the Mad Flax, a raw dish that is very much like bruschetta – if bruschetta were an Asian dish with delicate fl avor. It's comprised of crisp, spiced fl ax chips with macada- mia cheese, fresh tomato bruschetta, and microgreens. Next came our favorite dish, a splendid yam shrimp appetiz- er that was crunchy, gluten free, and fl avored with tomato and chili sauces on the side. Lightly battered and sautéed with ja- lapeno and cilantro, this is a fragrant and well-textured dish. The Norrito salad is a raw beauty, based on a bed of nori, with r o m a i n e , s p r o u t s , cabbage, mint, carrot, jicama, avocado, and bell pepper with a tangy lime leaf dress- ing. The light dressing makes this a refreshing course. The pho is extraordinary – delicious mock duck in a fl avorful broth with sawleaf herb, bean sprouts, and Thai basil. A side of crispy, spicy egg rolls makes a great accompaniment. The egg roll wrap is of course egg-less, and the rolls themselves are packed with juicy mushroom, carrot, jicama, taro, and almond with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. Curried Rice is a signature dish, featuring wild rice, spiced macadamia sauce, broccoli, caulifl ower, peas, corn, avocado, cucumber, olives, on- ion, marinated mushroom, carrots, and cilantro in a vibrant mélange of fl avors. For dessert we had Rainbow in the Sky, featuring chilled layers of blueberry, rasp- berry, mango, coconut, spirulina, pecan, and dates, and the Chocolate X-tasy, a raw chocolate dish with layers of cacao, coconut pulp, nectar, walnut, and macada- mia nuts. The graceful presentation of the desserts made this a great conclusion to our meal. In short, whether you're craving fl avorful vegan or delicious, light Vietnamese cuisine, Au Lac is a beautiful spot for both in the heart of downtown. The restaurant is located at 710 W. 1st St. in downtown Los Angeles. 213-617-2533. www.aulac.com Elegant Asian Vegan Cuisine eat here now AU LAC By Genie Davis Photo: Chop Chop Photos april/may 2017 15

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