Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Au Lac Fountain Valley

Wow. Doing research for my new documentary film on Raw Food has been tremendously eye-opening. Who would have thought that raw food could be so tasty? I've been gravitating towards the sweet and delicious types, usually with fruit or coconut based concoctions that were easy to make and "safe."

This all changed when I went to Au Lac Fountain Valley. Now, I see just how much imagination and creativity it takes to make raw food and that savory dishes as well as sweet dishes are completely possible, delicious, and best of all, good for you.

One of the things that really scared me about committing fully to a raw food diet was having to give up my beloved rice. As an Asian American (can I call myself American?) rice has been a staple in my diet and thus far, I have not seen rice in the raw form in the restaurants I've been to (perhaps I wasn't looking hard enough?) until I had Chef Ito's soaked rice dishes.

Here is what I was so blessed to try:

Bread with chimichurri. The bread tasted like real bread, not like the crackers I'm used to at some raw restaurants. The Pistachio Bread was also quite delicious. The laksa was mild and the kelp noodles have a really interesting way of taking on the flavor of the broth that it is in. I had to erase these pictures to create more memory but you can see them on their website.

Sayur Asem tamarind, soaked macadamia, cashew, mixed veggies. This was so refreshing and delicious. Reminded me a little of the Korean Nengmyun, with more herbs. My dining companion, Glutster, said it was of Indonesian origin. I want to go to there.

BBQ "Chicken" Pizza red onion, cilantro, "cheese." The barbeque sauce was delicious, made up sundried tomatoes. The "chicken" was made of mushrooms and the crust here was like a dense flatbread. Very delicious, a meal in and of itself.

Mashed Potatoes cauliflower, coconut, broccoli, carrot, avocado, tamari teriyaki gravy. At first I wasn't as attracted to this dish as I was initially attracted to the Green Pyramid (below), but subconsciously, I was keep coming back to it. I even asked Chef Ito why my reflexes were going back to it.

Green Pyramid basil pesto, aquatic grass, bell pepper, dulse, flax chip, basil tree. The one thing that always kept me from going completely raw was giving up rice. Rice is such a staple in my diet that I'd have to know that I could eat rice in the raw form if I were to ever go raw. This dish was such an enlightening experience and so delicious, to boot.

Fryed Chicks "deep fried" cauliflower, ginger, onion, sauce, "steamed rice."
The rice was made of jicama! I also love how cauliflower was "fried" to mimic chicken. It actually worked. The texture was a little dry but tasty nonetheless.

Angel Hair Marinara zucchini noodle, meatball parmesan, basil, garlic, parsley, tomatoThis was a really tasty and savory dish. I liked that the meatball had mushrooms in it to give a chewy texture vs. just being made of nuts which is how I'm more used to seeing. The zucchini was a refreshing contrast to the heavier meatball.

The big picture.

ES Al pukhet. palm sugar, avocado and heavenly things.
This was by far my favorite dish. I was pretty full by the time this came out but I couldn't help but lick it clean!

But there was more! Chef Ito brought out this beautiful dish of four different desserts. Raspberry cake, Rainbow in the Sky, Scotch on the Rocks, Choconut x-tasy. My favorite was the choconut x-tasy and Scotch on the Rocks. Freaking addictive.

The Glutster, taking pics of his beloved donut holes that he was talking about the entire ride down and up. Chef Ito obliged.

Donut holes made with spirulina inside (it was green when bit into it). The coconut powder gave it that true donut hole experience.

High rice this was a fermented rice drink. Had a little effervescent feeling to it, almost like a kombucha. Very refreshing!

I'm going back to Au Lac sometime this week to try more of the stuff I didn't get to try last time. I'm so excited I was introduced to this restaurant (thanks Glutster!) because now I know going raw doesn't mean I have to sacrifice as much of the things I love and I am able to see the imagination and creativity that Chef Ito puts into his delicious food.

Afterwards, we went durian shopping with Chef Ito. He totally went out of his way to help me out with this documentary and to show me where I can get my durian fix. We also got the gourmet orange bang from a shop that makes pure cane juice with kumquat. I was also able to pick up some thai apples and some chirimoya at the fruit store. I can't wait to go back to see if the durian will be more ripe!

Au Lac Fountain Valley

16563 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(714) 418-0658

Au Lac Gourmet Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 28, 2010

RAKU - Las Vegas

$35 pre-fixed menu plus $12 sake flight and around $10 for dessert per person. And this is what we got for that money:

I will try my best to describe what we ate since there wasn't a menu that we were looking at to see what we were eating. The waitresses just described what it was we were eating.

We started off with a sashimi salad. There were three different types of raw, mouth watering fish that melted like butter in my mouth.

When this came, we were seriously shocked. On the phone, they said it was a three course pre fixed menu so we thought for a nano second, that this was our entree. thinly sliced beef with toasted garlic, green onions, etc. that you roll up and pop in your mouth. Since it was a tapas style, each person got to eat two. They were the size of my thumb when laid flat.

But then this came. Bacon-wrapped mushrooms. Anything with bacon and the mushroom gave it some juicy squirts in my mouth. Now I was curious to see what else would come.

Nice! Crispy chicken! Juicy in the inside, crispy on the "crust" and taste-wise, more on the bland side than salty. All in all, a solid A-ok!

Perhaps the chicken was a palate cleanser because...Dun dun Dun. Behold, the Agedashi Tofu. I may not remember the names of the other dishes but I definitely remember the name for this creamy, silky tofu, fried so the crispy outer shell would crunch while you bite into it. The broth and the salmon roe along with the shredded nori all added to the perfect spoonful of wonderful textures and flavors in my mouth. Silky, creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, soulful, oceanic. No wonder it got so many rave reviews on

Next were some tender beef skewers with garlic "chips." They were definitely delicious but at this point I felt proteined out! I was hoping for something along the lines of the agedashi tofu...maybe carbs? Gah, I'm such a carb addict!

And then the fish. It was okay. If I had it with rice and kimchi, I would have loved it because the way it was fried made the fish uber crispy. But at this point, without any rice and after the beef skewers, I was reaching for my glass of water.
Speaking of the devil! CARBSSSSSSSS! Finally my beloved carb dish came out in the form of a rice bowl with salmon, greens, salmon roe. This off menu Salmon rice Kamameshi is so good the next day, too. This fat ass ate them as breakfast the next day and it still tasted amazeballs. it isn't too much carbs when you have it on its own at the start of the day vs. with a heavy meal or after eating a lot of skewers so take it home if you can't finish it. This and the agedashi as well as the kurobuta pork cheek are my go to staples now (I have been back about five times since the initial posting of this blog).

The waitress mixed it for us really well and everyone got a nice little bowl of tasty rice. There was enough for seconds, too.
OMG. Kurobota pork cheek. OMG. Squishy, juicy, and an explosion of pork fat in MY cheeks. I may have never had pork cheeks before. The consistency is so tender and crispy and fatty all at the same time, like a veal version of pork belly.

Why? Chicken Thigh! And because they were delicious. Not as delicious as the pork cheeks but the chicken thighs were pretty decent - tender and juicy.

I think it was called the bubbling pudding. Interesting textures and I thought I tasted some kefir-like flavor in there if I wasn't mistaken. It's pudding on the bottom and the fizz on top. Not the most popular one out of the group but by this point we were so stuffed everyone only had a few bites of the dessert.

The fluffly cheesecake. More fluffy than cheese cake but still pretty darn good.

Now that I've been here once and tried the pre fixed menu, next time I come, I know to order just the agedashi tofu, kurobota pork cheeks, sashimi salad, and of course, the sake flight. But, if I got hungry, I'd probably splurge on the pre fixed menu again, especially if I went with a big group like I did this time. It's definitely a hidden gem in Vegas, off strip, where the food is good and the price is low. And the quality - you really can't beat it.

I don't think they do pre-fixed anymore. They may do something similar, for large groups, and it is a bit more expensive now.

5030 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 367-3511

Raku on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Recently, I took my raw foodist friend (same one who went to Better Life Cuisine with me) to Cru, the silverlake restaurant that has a raw menu as well as a cooked menu. It's vegan and organic on both menus ;)

Sometimes, I just get into the mood for eating raw food. Mostly, it's the curiosity, I think, and secondly it's to detox from all the heavy and unhealthy food I usually eat.

Going to Cru served another purpose. I'm currently researching to do a documentary on health and food. Being a "foodie," sometimes it's really hard being "healthy." Sure, there are a few foodies who exercise almost all the food they eat and create balance in their diet by eating light throughout the day in order to enjoy themselves for that one meal. Well, I can guarantee you that those types of healthy foodies are a rare breed.

Anyway, I don't want to give away too much about the documentary. Back to the food.

We had the Muhamarra (walnut pomegranate spread served with fig pate and flax crackers)

Bruschetta (sunflower bread with a traditional chopped tomato and basil spread and cashew cheese)

Soup du Jour (it was slightly warm but you can also order it raw)

Hawaiian Flatbread Pizza (sunflower flatbread with cashew cheese, sundried tomato sauce and shiitake mushrooms, side salad)

Asian Noodle Bowl (kelp noodles, radishes and cucumbers in an almond chili sauce)

and last but not least, my favorite, the Coconut Chocolate Mousse Pie.

My favorite part of the meal was definitely the dessert. I am usually not a fan of most desserts only because it's usually too sweet for my taste and makes me feel like heavy crap afterwards. Not so with raw desserts. They're usually made out of coconut meat or cashews or both so it's definitely filling but you won't feel like there is a rock in your stomach. You mean I can have my dessert and not feel guilty about it? Hmmm..

Neighborhood: Silver Lake
1521 Griffith Park Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 667-1551

Cru on Urbanspoon