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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

An Lac Vegan Vegetarian Restaurant, Cabramatta

vegetarian banh hoi nem nuong grilled pork at an lac vegan restaurant cabramatta

Fast food in LA... upcoming barbecue meats in Austin... Let's take a breather and talk vegan. Trust me. You'll appreciate the calorific downtime. The thing is, vegan doesn't have to be all boiled lentils and celery sticks. You can still get things blessed in the deep fryer. Oh - did that get your attention? Here's my review of An Lac in Cabramatta for Time Out Sydney.

An Lac Vegan Restaurant 

an lac vegan restaurant cabramatta

Are you sick of getting stuck with the token vegetarian dish on a menu? Take a seat, then, buddy, cos you’re about to go weak at the knees. At An Lac, you can bask in an entire menu of options that will create a foreign sensation known as menu indecision – yep, that’s 60 different Vietnamese dishes to choose from, and not a vegetable stack to be seen.

glutinous tofu at an lac vegan restaurant cabramatta
Mi can xao chua ngot $12
Glutinous tofu stir fried with sweet and sour sauce

Even if you’re not a vegetarian, there are plenty of interesting things to explore – especially when there are mentions of prawn, beef and barbecue pork on the menu. The secret? They’re all made from gluten, a wheat-flour dough that is steamed, baked or fried to create all kinds of look-alike meat substitutes. If you don’t believe us, check out the takeaway boxes out the front – they’re the spitting image of soya-sauce chicken wings. It’s like magic.

mock chicken wings at an lac vegan restaurant cabramatta
Mock chicken wings - how real do they look?!

Start with goi cuon prawn rice paper rolls (4 for $6) or get stuck in and roll your own ($18 for two people). You’ll score a mountain of fresh lettuce, bean sprouts, carrot, mint and perilla leaves that you roll up with vermicelli noodles and your choice of fried fish, barbecue pork, stir-fried beef or barbecue meatballs. Dunk your rice paper roll into some nuoc cham fish sauce dressing (vegetarian, of course) for extra sweetness.

vegetarian banh hoi nem nuong grilled pork at an lac vegan restaurant cabramatta
Banh hoi nem nuong $18
Steamed vermicelli with bbq meatball served with rice paper and salad

On a Sunday lunchtime there’s a happy mix of Vietnamese grandmas and families and a few in-the-know Caucasian couples stopping in for a bite to eat. The décor is simple but clean, with lime-green walls and friendly staff sporting butter-yellow T-shirts emblazoned with the feel-good message “Be veg, go green, save the planet."

vegetarian bun rieu vermicelli at an lac vegan restaurant cabramatta
Bun rieu vermicelli in tomato soup $10

Com tam dac biet is a popular dish here. It's a vegetarian version of the traditional broken rice with three kinds of pork. It even comes with a vegan egg on top. Bun rieu is a commendable version of the original crab tomato soup. It’s a hearty tomato broth swimming with vermicelli noodles, tofu and fried gluten.

banh mi hap bi at an lac vegan restaurant cabramatta
Banh mi hap bi $18
Steamed bread roll with shredded pork and salad

You can carb things up with the banh mi hap bi, a massive plate of steamed baguette slices, smothered in crisp-fried shallots, gluten strips, vermicelli noodles and crunchy peanuts. Check the fridge for vegan flan or yoghurt for dessert, and stock up on vegetarian fish sauce, stock and sauces in the little shop at the back.

And if you’re still not convinced, you can stick with the spring rolls. Always a winner.

vegetarian takeaway counter at an lac vegan restaurant cabramatta
Takeaway counter

an lac vegan restaurant cabramatta

View Larger Map
An Lac Vegan Restaurant on Urbanspoon

An Lac Vegan Vegetarian Restaurant
94b John Street, Cabramatta, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9727 5116

Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday 9am-7pm

This article appeared in the July 2013 issue of Time Out Sydney in my monthly Food & Drink column Eat This! [Read online

Read more of my Time Out Sydney reviews

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Vegetarian - Badde Manors, Glebe
Vegetarian - Govinda's, Darlinghurst
23 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/07/2013 01:18:00 am


  • At 8/07/2013 1:48 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Oh interesting; Au Lac is the name of a vegan restaurant just like this in Canberra. I think I need to Google what the words mean now...

  • At 8/07/2013 7:43 am, Anonymous Jina @ Soy & Ginger said…

    Wow this post puts vegan food in a whole new light for me. It might actually be worth going vegetarian for health reasons if I could get mock chicken wings like that!

    But I wonder how they get the broths and stocks to taste the same without the meat base?

  • At 8/07/2013 8:00 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    This is my mum's go to place when she needs a quick vegetarian fix (she's vego for roughly 5 months of the year). Not to say that dad can't cook vegetarian (he's amazing) but sometimes you're just in a hurry. Mum loves this place for the sheer fact that there's so much on offer, and everything is so flavoursome. And yes, those mock chicken wings look so real. I got fooled by them!

  • At 8/07/2013 12:14 pm, Anonymous Pinky said…

    Wow. They totally look like chicken wings! Will have to take my vegetarian parents here soon ^.^

  • At 8/07/2013 12:55 pm, Anonymous Sonny Truyen said…

    wow, cheers for reviewing my auntys restaurant.. it reminded me that I have to finish her website..

  • At 8/07/2013 1:51 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    i love having viet in cabramatta because it is so exciting and surprising!

  • At 8/07/2013 2:55 pm, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    There's a new vegetarian restaurant in Carlingford that's quite good. Can't remember the name though.

  • At 8/07/2013 8:05 pm, Anonymous bob @ jugernauts said…

    Mock Meats Make Me Mad.


  • At 8/07/2013 8:35 pm, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    What? No mock clay-pot pork belly? At least when you bite into those "wing" there's no risk of choking on bones. lol

  • At 8/08/2013 7:12 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    MOCK MEAT! I love mock meat!!! I've only ever had it in Chinese restaurants, would love to try the Vietnamese dishes made with it though!

  • At 8/09/2013 4:02 am, Blogger CQUEK said…

    i love everything from your screen

  • At 8/09/2013 11:00 am, Blogger Mr C @ The Food Diary said…

    Heard quite a few good things about this place, my parents love it!

  • At 8/10/2013 9:27 am, Anonymous Christina @ The Hungry Australian said…

    As usual, you have made me hungry again, Helen! I've tried mock meat once or twice and have always been amazed at how closely it resembles the real thing. This place looks like a great option whether you're a vegetarian or not.

  • At 8/10/2013 7:09 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Gee! It does look vegan!!
    ...but I trust you, this is the first post I have seen that isn't all sugared up!!
    Looks rather delicious :)

  • At 8/10/2013 8:03 pm, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    I have been to this restaurant and I was shocked at how much I liked the food. I didn't even miss a bit of meat.

  • At 8/11/2013 10:34 am, Anonymous Cara @ Gourmet Chick said…

    Good find Helen - I do feel sorry for vego friends when dining out often and their only option is the mushroom risotto!

  • At 8/11/2013 3:19 pm, Blogger MAB vs Food said…

    I am always on the lookout for good vego places to take my wife. I think it's time for me to head out to Cabramatta for a Vietnamese food crawl! I will have my beef pho and she can eat the vego stuff :)

  • At 8/11/2013 3:26 pm, Anonymous Iron Chef Shellie said…

    Its amazing how much effort goes into creating mock meat. I'd definitely be interested to try as those chicken wings looks insanely "real" :P

  • At 8/11/2013 3:26 pm, Anonymous Iron Chef Shellie said…

    Its amazing how much effort goes into creating mock meat. I'd definitely be interested to try as those chicken wings looks insanely "real" :P

  • At 8/11/2013 4:57 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    i am so impressed by their variety of dishes and the final result! those chicken wings look so real...

  • At 8/11/2013 9:42 pm, Anonymous msihua said…

    Delicious! The only time I would happily go vegetarian is if there is mock meat involved :P

  • At 8/12/2013 12:03 am, Blogger Vivian - vxdollface said…

    It's so bizarre and amazing how they can make it look like and taste like real meat!

  • At 8/12/2013 10:44 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    vegan vegetarian? think i've finally found the place to dine with my vegetarian friends. ive always walked past this every time i'm in cabramatta but i'm a total carnivore. looks really delicious!


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