A 24-year-old business run by Vietnamese/Vietnamese-American mother-daughter duo, Mai and Linh Nguyen, Au Lac might also very well be the longest-running vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. It all started over a quarter of a century ago when, after overcoming a severe health problem that involved several invasive surgeries, Mai had an epiphany - animals fear death just like humans. Over the course of four months, she completely left her dairy/meat-heavy diet behind for veganism, recovered from her illness, and opened Au Lac Downtown thereafter. Au Lac became Mai’s passion and outlet for advocating animal rights. And after trying their salt and pepper shrimp, I was influenced to seek out more vegan food and restaurants myself. The texture and flavor of this appetizer is so similar to the real thing that my reflex was to leave the shrimp tails on the plate. I also love their aromatic beef pho and crispy calamari made from king oyster mushrooms. Whichever your diet may be, they will curate and pleasantly surprise you with Vietnamese and Chinese dishes.
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