Wednesday, April 06, 2011

March 28, 2011: Au Lac

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 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.


  1. Oh Cindy! I wish you would've let me know you were coming, as I've been hankering to try Au Lac for ages and we could've gone crazy with the menu! Next time, maybe?

  2. I think maybe I mislead you, I just re-read our blog review and the highlight was the basil 'chicken', sorry!

  3. Au Lac have satay "chicken" that beats the hell out of most of the real thing (at least they did 6 years ago when I lived in Canberra).

    I also recall a mate's 21st there where half of the party didn't realise they were at a vegetarian restaurant!

  4. Weekend trip to Canberra! I've actually never been.

  5. Hannah, that would've been fab! On this occasion I didn't dare to believe that I'd make it to the restaurant while it was open until the taxi actually arrived at the door... but I'll make time for a shared repeat visit when I'm next in our nation's capital. :-)

    K - never mind, looks like that dish had heaps of onion too! Also, does Google hate you? 'Cause your posts don't turn up when I blog search restaurants... I will find and link in just a sec.

    Jackie, I'll gladly try the satay chicken next time! Funny to think that mock meat could be that convincing... though folks aren't generally too sober at 21st parties, are they? ;-)

    Steph - I'm in, any time! But I might insist on a visit to the Questacon.

  6. It's a vague-but-surely-definite date! :D