Amboy: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream

Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2020. ISBN 9781328931733. $35. COOKING.
Prominent Filipino-American chef and restaurateur Cailan has played an instrumental role in several recent food trends, including the nascent LA food truck scene and the mainstreaming of Filipino restaurant cuisine. In 2011, Cailan created Eggslut, the legendary breakfast sandwich food truck, and now runs the New York eatery Amboy. His engaging cookbook/memoir, coauthored by writer and director Cuerdo, features essays, interviews, and recipes that tell his story of being a first-generation immigrant growing up in Pico Rivera, CA. Some of the most effective sections of the book feature memories and recipes from his close-knit, food-loving family, who sparked his love of cooking. Alongside photos of his parents and cousins, Cailan shares recipes for dishes he grew up eating, including champorado (a chocolatey rice porridge) and his great-grandma’s signature patis fried chicken. Later chapters feature dishes from his years working in restaurants; Eggslut fans will be happy to find recipes for some of its famous sandwiches.
VERDICT It’s impossible not to engage with Cailan’s energy and commentary: his persona virtually leaps off the page. Readers who enjoy personality-driven memoirs will discover something inimitable and poignant here, in both Cailan’s story and his delicious food.
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