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