The oldest vegetarian restaurant in Cabramatta
Noodlies, Sydney food blog revisits an old favourite.
An Lac is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Cabramatta, going strong for well over two decades. It began as a business venture of Phuoc Hue temple to make vegetarian food accessible for local Vietnamese, at the same time, raising funds for the temple. Nuns used to supervise and most workers were Buddhist lay people. Back then it was a humble, honest and unpretentious eatery conveniently located on the main street.
Phuoc Hue has since sold and these days An Lac is a little more glamorous. The new An Lac has had a make-over, lime green and yolk coloured walls, fancy light fixtures, heck, even metal chopticks. At the front is a bain-marie showcasing around twenty mouth-watering vegetarian versions of popular Vietnamese standards; bitter melon soup, curries, braised pork and more.
There are some great vego versions of Vietnamese classics like fresh rolls and bo bia, a version that is made with shredded pork skin. I’d argue the vego bo bia (below) tastes even better than the meat version. They’ve managed to replicate the sandy, gritty texture using dried tofu so you don’t have to think about swallowing pig skin.
Banh uot (below) is a highlight here, the folds of pristine white rice noodles are lively and bouncy, oodles of bean sprouts crunchy and juicy, thin slices of cucumber and a good selection of shredded mints add several vibrant shades of green to the dish and extra freshness to the taste, while the vegetarian version of cha lua (pork devon) is nutty with an uncanny meat taste and texture. You get lots of vegetarian dipping (fish) sauce served up in a simple gravy dish – pour generously over banh uot to combine the ingredients, as seen in the feature noodlies video (above).
If you want something hearty then the belly-busting fried rice with tofu salted fish will satisfy the hungriest body builder. It’s not too hard to reproduce the taste and texture of salted fish using salted dried tofu. If you’re deep in conversation, it’s easy to forget this is vego fried rice.
An Lac is one of seven vegetarian establishments in Cabramatta – an embarrassment of delicious riches for this little suburb that’s just 40 minutes south west of Sydney CBD.
An Lac Vegetarian
94B John St, Cabramatta, NSW
(02) 9727 5116