Au Lac (DTLA)

Au Lac is a vegan Asian restaurant in DTLA on 1st Street near the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Here are my reviews of the menu items I’ve tried. Photos available on Yelp.

Ito Burrito. 5/5. An amazing raw bean burrito. Wins points for originality.

Salt & Peppered Yam shrimp. 4.5/5. Excellent. Crispy outside; springy, meaty inside. Full of umami flavor. Thinly slivered jalapeños give it a nice kick.

Curried rice. 4.5/5. Raw wild rice with vegetables in macadamia sauce. I love it. Some people may find it a little weird tasting.

Green pyramid. 4.5/5 Raw wild rice with vegetables in Thai pesto sauce. See previous entry.

Lemongrass fish. 4.5/5. Great. Crispy outside; chewy, pressed-yuba-like texture inside, with good umami and seaweed flavor. A little salty.

Baklava. 4.5/5. Raw baklava. Extremely sweet and rich; still very good.

Cali roll. 4/5. A vegetable roll that looks reminiscent of Japanese maki. No rice. Satisfying, super-healthy.

Octopus. 4/5. This is something akin to General Tso’s shiitake mushroom with a vegan batter. The shiitake mushrooms are crispy and very chewy (probably the origin for its name). They are coated in thick, sweet, umami-rich sauce and served with forbidden rice. Maybe the most unhealthy thing on the menu. This would probably be some people’s favorite dish.

Mad flax. 4/5. Flax chips with macadamia spread. Good. The flax chips have good texture and flavor and surpass many flatbreads at high-end restaurants.

Tiramisu. 4/5. Not as good as the real thing, but still pretty darn good.

Crimini pesto. 3.5/5. Stuffed crimini mushrooms. Unmemorable.

Sweet and spicy tempeh. 3/5. Too sweet, not very spicy, not very interesting.

Eggrolls. 3/5. These were basic and did nothing for me.

Pho. 2.5/5. Pointless.

Cheesy lime popcorn. 2/5. Silly. I sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn at home; I don’t need a restaurant to do it for me. And I prefer it without the lime zest.

I’ve had several other items on the menu, but I don’t remember them, so I won’t review them. They must not have been very good.

Oh my, when did an LA branch open?? How funny! On Yelp they are listed as a cocktail bar, would never have imagined the Fountain Valley original as a cocktail bar!

Are they now cooking some food here? Previously I thought they were all raw food (nothing above 118 degrees at least). But some of these items sound like they must be cooked at higher heat, like eggrolls, and fried shrimp (the Yam shrimp)?

There are several cooked (indeed, deep fried) menu items. The spring rolls, for example, are just ordinary spring rolls. Interestingly, my favorite dishes are the raw dishes. The raw rice dishes, the Ito burrito, and the raw desserts are all special and worth seeking out.

I feel that Au Lac is a high quality restaurant that deserves to be mentioned in the upper echelon of DTLA restaurants. I keep thinking about how good the raw curry rice was.

Another note about the Ito Burrito. I would say it’s the best bean burrito I’ve ever had, even though it’s raw and vegan.