• au lac: vegan raw and cooked cuisine

    May 27th, 2009quarrygirlau lac, LA restaurants

    if you live in los angeles and want to have a completely unique vegan food experience, lemme tell you, it is definitely worth making the hour-plus drive to orange county to visit au lac. located in fountain valley, the humanese restaurant offers an entirely vegan menu, with several raw and cooked selections. all the raw foodies i know have nothing but wonderful things to say about this place, so my husband and i stopped in to check it out a few weeks ago when we were in the area.

    we decided to go all out, ordering appetizers off both the raw and cooked menus, plus dessert (which is only available in raw). thankfully, although we ordered several dishes, the some of them were quite small, so we left feeling satisfied but not overly stuffed.

    dau hu rang muoi: battered soft tofu seasoned in salt, black pepper, cilantro and jalapeno. $8

    dau hu rang muoi: battered soft tofu seasoned in salt, black pepper, cilantro and jalapeno. $8

    for our cooked appetizer, we started with a flash-fried tofu dish called ‘da hu rang muoi,’ which consisted of ultra-soft tofu in a light batter and cooked with salt, pepper, cilantro and jalapeno. this may sound like a typical asian tofu appetizer, but oh my word, it wasn’t! probably the best tofu dish i’ve ever tasted, it was barely coated with batter, completely covered in seasoning, and perfectly soft and moist in the middle.

    for our raw appetizer, we went with the chimichurri, which turned out to be two slices of doughy bread with an oil and herb sauce for dipping. i seriously have no clue how they got ‘raw’ bread to taste so fucking good, but this dish was spongy, soft and porous beyond belief. even if you aren’t in to raw food, i’d recommend the chimichurri. not to mention the perfect infusion of fresh herbs and oil…excellent dipping sauce any way you look at it. at $5, it was pretty pricey for two pieces of bread, but i definitely think it was worth it.

    chimichurri: dip with garlic bread. $5

    chimichurri: dip with garlic bread. $5

    for his main course, my husband ordered the ‘bo luc lac’, which was a massive plate of watercress and vegetables tossed in a light vinegar dressing, all topped with several slabs of faux beef. for just ten bucks this thing was absolutely huge, and everything tasted amazing. the soy meat was tender and well seasoned, and all the vegetables tasted extra fresh. i stole several bites of this throughout the meal.

    bo luc lac: watercress, soy beef, garic, vinegar dressing, tomato, onion. $10

    bo luc lac: watercress, soy beef, garic, vinegar dressing, tomato, onion. $10

    i went raw on my main dish and ordered jino’s pizza, a small round of raw bread covered in vegetables and a ‘cheese’ sauce. while i ended up liking my pizza in the long run, my enjoyment was overshadowed by the fact it arrived about 20 minutes later than my husband’s main course. in fact, he finished his food before i even started mine! when the pizza finally did arrive, it was delicious, albeit rather small for $12. i guess raw food is just phenomenally expensive any way you look at it, so at least this tasted really good. the crust was soft and squishy, kinda like the chimichurri appetizer, and was covered in just the right amount of herbs and vegetables. the cheese sauce was exceptionally creamy and tangy, and i couldn’t help but wonder what it would taste like on a plate of raw nachos. don’t let the picture fool you, the pizza was very small, maybe 3 or 4 inches across, i’d say the size of a medium pancake.

    jinos pizza: roma, sundried tomato, marinara, basil, melted mozzarella. $12

    jinos pizza: roma, sundried tomato, marinara, basil, melted mozzarella. $12

    au lac offers a raw dessert menu, and i was told by several people not to leave without trying the donut holes. while i was a bit skeptical of raw donut holes, these suckers definitely converted me. covered in a sugary powder, the round little treats had a distinctively nutty flavor and were filled with a thick rich syrup.

    raw donut holes. $7

    raw donut holes. $7

    i actually almost spilled the syrup all over me when biting into the first one, because i didn’t know what to expect! while my husband wasn’t a fan of the donut holes at all, i thought they were wonderful. definitely like nothing i’ve ever eaten before, i highly recommend them.


    so overall, our visit to au lac was a great success, leaving us filled to the brim with healthy vegan raw and cooked food. the cuisine there is definitely unusual, as is the decor (think asian-inspired 1980s), so this place may not be for everyone. although if you have an appreciation for raw food or humanese cuisine, or if you are just in for a tasty adventure, au lac will not disappoint.


    plus, did i mention they have the coolest parking spots ever? check out the one above…reserved just for me. 🙂


    au lac
    16563 Brookhurst St
    Fountain Valley, CA 92708
    (714) 418-0658
    Tue-Sun. 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    Tue-Sun. 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

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13 responses to “au lac: vegan raw and cooked cuisine” RSS icon

  • I LUV this place. I’ve been driving my ass out there for 5 years to get their delicious, creative food.

  • Love the parking spot! 😀 Only been one time so far. Thanks for the pics…making me drool! Heading out there w/hubby for a meetup this weekend. Woohoo! 😀

  • Definitely on my list of places to try!

  • Oh man, I want a vegan parking spot & a filled raw donut hole thing!

  • this place is really good. one of my favorite vegan dishes comes from here: Chả Cá Thăng Long – Grilled Fish Hot Plate. It is a Vietnamese dish.

    I’m not sure when, but this place underwent a big re-design. They are surely trying to reach a wider audience, going from homegrown and understated to glitzy and upscale. My biggest criticism is that Au Lac dropped their Vietnamese diacritical marks along with their overall Vietnamese-ness. They now call it “Humanese”, which i assume means food for all humanity–understandable since their raw food menu doesn’t have much of a cultural identity.

    Good thing the food is still equally as good (though the new plating at times a bit obnoxious). This comment is superficial, but something i find personally important. It just feels like they are hiding it when they should be celebrating it.

  • p.s. oops they didn’t drop the diacritical marks, just the “vietnamese” part

  • I’ve been waiting for this review and holding my breathe because I was one of the many that was nudging you towards this place. The raw food portions are rather small compared to everything else. Last time I was there I polished of half the chimichurri, a cup of humanese soup which wasn’t very small, the bbq ‘chicken pizza’ and half the choc-nut xtasy pie.

    I’m SO happy you had a pleasant experience.

  • I am a huge fan of Au Lac’s Vietnamese food. The beef pho is exceptional. Pho is a staple soup of the Vietnamese diet. It is usually made from boiling cow bones all night.

    Au Lac makes a vegan version filled with four of five fake meats. It will knock your socks off.

    The owner has been silent for the past 7 or 8 years. He is a beautiful guy who often brings complementary dishes to the table.

  • i love au lac… i usually get two orders of the salt & pepper tofu plus spring rolls.. so good!

  • Just so you know, I went to this place once years ago, and while I thoroughly enjoyed what I ate, what I saw in their freezer by the entrance depressed me. They were stocking a variety of mock meats made with whey. I do not know whether this practice continues to this day.

  • I guess I’m the only one that had a horrific experience at this joint the one time I went. My Vietnamese vegetarian friend took me there, he recommended the pho but when it arrived, warned me not to eat the “ham” that was in my pho since it wasn’t vegan. I observed the menu again [no idea if it’s changed since then] but it said “most items vegan”, but it didn’t really specify what was and was not vegan. After I had already ordered, despite my friends warning, I asked the server and he said it was in fact vegan. When I finally received my meal, I asked again and the server admitted NONE of the 3 mock meats in my soup were vegan. To make matters worse, he couldn’t point out on the menu what was vegan and what wasn’t. It eventually led to an argument between he and the “owner” at my table. I was stuck in the middle of it. It was almost traumatizing! lol
    Who knows, maybe things have changed drastically since I’ve gone. I hope they have!
    I wrote them a really nasty Yelp review back in December of ’08 and the owner emailed me offering a free meal, and a tour of the kitchen, but I kindly declined.

  • I think the Loving Hut in Orange is taking over. They are selling super delicious vegan food that is really affordable. I hope you do a review on them soon. Peace!

  • Douglas Novack

    I have eaten here many times. I have to ask them to leave out the salt and not put to much oil on the food. The salads are great but the one complaint i have against Asian Vegan restaurants is they try and make everything taste like meat and call it by meat names. Vegans do not eat meat because it is animal cruelty and we do not like the texture and the taste. So, why do so many places try and make their vegan food look, taste and smell like meat? Most of Au lac’s cuisine is mock meat. There are a few things that I can get but it is not worth the trip. They use a lot of salt and way to much oil…..Their raw menu is interesting and a lot better than 118 Degrees so if you are a raw foodist, give Au Lac a shot.

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