DTLA: Checking Out the Vegan Eats at Au Lac
I’m happy to announce Au Lac is my new go-to restaurant when I go to the Music Center for a pre-show meal. Au Lac is located in the old First and Hope supperclub space and I was surprised to see it’s retained the fancy, dreamy decor. Perhaps it’s a good thing though because this food is certainly sophisticated and well-thought out. It’s not a $6 pho shop to grab a bowl before a show.
The menu is pan-Asian and entirely vegan. Half the menu seems to be “raw.” We started with one of their popular appetizers, the salt and pepper shrimp. It’s made from yams but I was happy to discover the yam was not mushed up yam but rather yam starch and so the “shrimp” had this bouncy, almost shrimp like bite. And with the appropriate food coloring, there were even bursts of orange to make it seem like cooked shrimp. It was lightly crunchy and and expertly seasoned. I loved it so much, I went back the next week and ordered it again. However, this second time there were 2 less shrimp and not quite as crispy. Although the shrimp were larger so perhaps that’s why there were less.
That night we also got egg rolls. These are vegan, of course. I normally pass up vegetarian egg rolls at Vietnamese places because I never feel satisfied with them. At Au Lac, I was super into these and was very sad when my one, small roll was greedily consumed. We kept the “fish” sauce for later dipping.
Au Lac has a full bar featuring organic spirits. I had the Snap Koval with features whiskey from Koval and ginger liqueur. It’s on the boozier side and the right cocktail for me to wind down before a show.
Snap Koval – Koval bourbon, Koval ginger liqueur, orange
The three of us split a bowl of pho which the kitchen kindly served in three individual bowls for us. It was very flavorful and on the spicier side. It comes with soy “meat” but you can sub in fresh veggies.
The first time I went to Au Lac, we got the curried rice from the raw section. It was interesting because how can rice be raw? It turns out they soak the rice rather than cooking the rice. I liked everything about it except for the olives. I normally love briny olives but I felt these were earthy and threw off the taste for me.
My friend wanted to get the Cali rolls which comes with young coconut. These were more interesting than vegetarian sushi rolls I’ve had in the past but it wasn’t my favorite thing on the menu.
Another popular dish we ordered was the garlic basil which comes with sage apple “sausage.” It’s plenty spicy on its own but you can dab on more sriracha for a meaner kick. These were great noodles.
It’s a noodle-tastic night and we also ordered the Bun 33 which is the vegan version of dry bun noodles with plenty of vegetables and avocado. Remember that “fish” sauce I saved earlier? This would be a handy time to splash some on.
I’d like to come back to try some of the daily specials; maybe the whole “fish” with seaweed skin or the Ito Burrito which everyone says is the best. I’ve also heard good things about the tostada.
I’m glad there are more exciting options near the Music Center and the new Broad Museum.(213) 617-2533 © The Minty 2015