Mai Nguyen seats herself in the middle of the table and passes food around to the eldest first, serving herself last. Wearing a green silk top, she has her black hair pulled back in an intricate loose bun and smiles while introducing herself with a joke. “Empty stomachs have no ears.” Mai smiles, repeating her favorite greeting to her community cooking classes.
Au Lac tucks itself away in a classic strip mall, off Brookhurst and Heil, that’s just as unassuming as its owner. A concept restaurant dedicated to living foods and birthed out of a victory over cancer, offers an experience. Once you walk through the green curtains behind the glass door, you enter Mai’s world. “It’s fun for me to convince people that my plant-based food can be a good fit for you,” Mai said.
After Mai beat brain cancer, she followed a calling to help people through food. “I had to make the revolution for my life. Living food is medicine,” Mai said. “My husband is a medical doctor. Medical doctors can do the treatment but not the prevention. I’ve seen so many miracles with my customers,” said Mai.
Those unfamiliar with living foods will instantly learn their benefits and the medicinal properties they possess. “I train my servers to show customers how to use my greens,” Mai says, as she wraps a lettuce and mint leaf around an egg roll. “I don’t want to see any greens go to the trash!” Mai laughs.
A Vietnamese-base serves as Au Lacs’ palette to emulate dishes in an all-natural and vegan way. Au Lac imports many products in dedication to serving the highest quality natural, healthy, living foods. Mai’s concern for the quality of her product has led Au Lac to use two kitchens-one for cooked and one for living foods.
When you open the first half of the menu, you can order cooked foods with familiar dishes. Some of those include risotto, kung pao chicken and wonton soup, which is one of Mai’s favorites. The second half of the menu is the living foods like curried rice, zero calorie and zero carb kelp noodles, sushi and sea salad. Au Lac keeps their prices affordable. “My heart is designed for people,” Mai says.
The cold-pressed juice bar has most drinks priced under $9. You can get the egg rolls with tarot, carrot, eggless wrap with lettuce and mint for $8.75. Undeniably Au Lacs star appetizer is the generous serving of kelp-based Salt and Pepper Shrimp for $13.75. Don’t be afraid of the shrimp tail, “They don’t swim!” as Mai would say.
You can tell Mai does this for the love and belief. She genuinely wants you to live a better life. The restaurant replaces fried foods with dehydrated ones and Mai uses olive and coconut oils only in her living food. There are no refined sugars, whey protein and all fare is 100% vegan. “If it’s healthy, it has to taste good. When you leave me, you feel full but not heavy.” Mai smiles as she dips her spoon back into wonton soup.
Visit Au Lac at 16563 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708(714) 418-0658/ http://www.aulac.com/
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