I spent a little time in Canberra for work during March. My trip was booked at late notice and I ended up in a hotel some distance from the meeting venue. This turned out to be a blessing more than a nuisance because my hotel was in Dickson, within walking distance of Au Lac Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant. I could barely believe my luck when I discovered that Au Lac would be open until 10pm on a Monday night, the only free time I had. I exited Canberra's new international airport at 8:30 and had a taxi deliver me straight there.
Au Lac is a Vietnamese restaurant, with a lot of faux meat across its menu. Since I was ordering for one I reluctantly skimmed past the entrees and didn't allow myself any time on the dessert page, either - I allowed myself a coconut juice ($3.50) as a more sensible treat. The rest of the menu is divided into Vietnamese noodle specialties, vegetables, tofu delight, soy beef, soy chicken, soy fish, chef's specials and rice. The chef's specials include soups, some faux duck and seafood and a range of Vietnamese fondues (something I've never encountered before!) that cost up to $58.
Some flavour combinations repeat themselves in the menu as they're available with more than one mock meat. K recommended I have something with lemongrass so I ordered the version with fried soy fish ($14 + $2 extra for steamed rice). I was relieved to see it arrive with some veges, though the main one was onion - roughly an entire onion sliced into strips and stir-fried with the soy fish. I couldn't handle more than a couple of strips and spent much of the meal picking around it, salvaging what lettuce and other greenery I could.
It's a shame I missed out on some of the lemongrass flavouring in this way 'cause what I tasted on the 'fish' I liked. I can't help feeling that I didn't get to try the best of Au Lac. The roast duck might suit me better, but then I'd want some veges too, and really I'd just like to fly the entire vegan potluck crew up to share a banquet or one of those intriguing fondues. But I don't think I could notch that up as a work expense.
Au Lac has also appeared on the blogs In the Mood for Noodles, The Fairest Feed, missklicious, capitalgourmand, Grab Your Fork and Snowdrop Meringues & Berries.
Au Lac Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant
4/35-39 Wolley St, Dickson, Canberra ACT
(02) 6262 8922
BYO wine only
entrees $5-9, mains $12-16
Accessibility: The main restaurant area is flat and quite well spaced; bills are paid at a high counter. Toilets are substantially less accessible.