The founder, Mai, sought a holistic approach of treating her difficult health conditions and found that a plant-based diet was key. After a remarkable recovery, she was inspired to combine her love for cooking and helping others by sharing the benefits of her plant-based diet with her delicious, gourmet cuisine.
Mai re-visited traditional Vietnamese dishes, from elaborate noodle soups to sautées, grilled dishes and specialty sauces, using only plant-based and health-conscious ingredients. She demonstrated that meat was never missed in a well-prepared meal when the right spices and techniques of traditional cooking were used. In the early years of opening Âu Lạc, she made headlines in the OC Register and LA Times for fighting the stigma of ''cold blocks of tofu'' associated with vegan cuisine.