Au Lac is definitely a note-worthy addition to the revolutionizing Downtown L.A scene. I mean never, would I ever have imagined such a place would come to exist in this sector of Los Angeles during my coming-of-age years. I still remember walking down the smoggy,
littered streets of Main, Broadway and Spring Street in the late ninety’s; you just didn’t after a certain hour. It wasn’t safe, smart or even desirable.
But in the past decade and a half, these restrictions have shifted progressively. I remember when I first saw “The Walt Disney Concert Hall”; I thought to myself, “That’s a beautiful but odd place to be built in this side of town.”. Next came the new additions inside Grand Central Market, and even the coffee shop movement of Echo Park-Silver Lake has spread its wings into Downtown. So when it was AuLac’s turn, I knew the change was unstoppable.
Au Lac originated in Fountain Valley in 1997 and is a Vietnamese, mostly raw, vegan restaurant that focuses specifically on healthy-minded eating. The menu is big (probably the biggest I have seen at a vegan establishment) and the offerings are definitely eclectic; The Octopus (like eating orange chicken from my Omni days, swear!), the Sweet and Spicy Tempeh (oh-my-holy-tastebuds), The Claypot Fish (my favorite,) and most recently, The Pork Chop; all these dishes are creative and delicious takes on their meat-based precedents, all masterfully designed by Chef Ito who started his work at the Fountain Valley flagship. But, I have to give predilection where it’s deserved, and what Chef Ito excels at is his raw cuisine. The raw dishes at AuLac are like none others.
Like previously noted, the menu at Au Lac DTLA is huge, and the raw section is no exception; The Ito Burrito, The Curried Rice, The Raw Lasagna (best raw Lasagna I’ve ever consumed), and secret menu delights such as the “De La Mama” and a risotto dish. It’s always a battle of indecisiveness with me at Au Lac when it comes to the raw dishes, because they’re A) all that good, and B) it’s always a coin toss between the Raw Lasagna and De La Mama, both are respectful amazing to the very last bite. I do usually opt for the De La Mama because it’s ingredient’s list is more varied (raw red peppers, curried rice, raw mushrooms, avocado, lots of avocado, need I say more!) opposed to the Lasagna which is a richer but more forward dish (a lot, a lot, A LOT of nut cheese going on there).
One of the standout factors about Au Lac DTLA is its ambiance, which seals the deal in my book. From the dim lighting, the table arrangements (all benches and seats covered in white tapestry), to the water carafes served at each table, Au Lac DTLA caters to both a romantic and friendly gathering that’ll surely result in a return trip. The employees are all standouts as well; Magnolia, Hilary, CHEF ITO, to name a few. These gals, the master chef, and their colleagues always make for a joyous feast.
So, if planning a romantic night out with a fellow vegan or a dinner celebration of any sort, I highly suggest you look into Au Lac DTLA. It caters to all tastebuds, dietary restrictions, and personalities. If you have dinner here and don’t smile at least once, well then that’s a personal problem (jk).