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L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food Hardcover – November 5, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Review

Street-wise, honest in its admission of trials and punctuated with vernacular swagger, Choi’s debut pays tribute to family and his enduring fascination with the melting pot of Los Angeles. (Kirkus Reviews)

“While [Jacques] Pepin’s autobiography was the epitome of the traditional chef’s life, it may be that Choi’s will be the same for the new generation … “L.A. Son,” co-written with Tien Nguyen and Natasha Phan, pops with Choi’s hip-hop verbal rhythms.” (Los Angeles Times)

‘With driving metaphors coming fast and furious throughout this memoir cum cookbook, there is no doubting and no pulling away from Choi’s gritty embrace of L.A.’s mean streets.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Choi is the rare chef whose life story--which includes working with chef Eric Ripert and a weeklong cocaine binge--is as compelling as his food.” (Food & Wine)

“At the moment, Roy Choi is one of the most prominent lenses the nation has into L.A.” (Los Angeles Times)

His beautiful book .... is two parts story (Choi’s coming up), one part recipe (his OMG crazy good creations, like ketchup fried rice). You may never cook from this book (though the recipes are eminently doable), but it won’t matter. It’s a fun flip even if all you do is drool.” (Associated Press)

“A a memoir-cookbook that moves like a novel.” (New York Times, cover of 'Dining' Section, in article about Roy's new restaurant)

“In its pages, and even more so in person, one finds in Choi a personality who is at once high-end and low-end, flawed and at the top of his game, relentless and chill, coarse and refined-and absolutely, unapologetically authentic.” (Ad Week)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062202634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062202635
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Great story, with recipes!
RYAN HERZ
I've seen Roy Choi on Anthony Bourdain's show about Koreatown and loved his attitude about food and history. a great book for anyone, foodie or not.
yvonne b
I wish I could read it again for the first time; the truest indication of good book.
Richard Lee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A. Weitz on January 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'm lucky that I live in LA and can eat at a Roy Choi spot at least twice a month. My favorite is Chego but A-Frame and Sunny Spot are also great. (I gave up on trying to find the Kogi trucks and honestly, I lost patience with having to wait on those long food truck lines.) But my point is: I love Roy Choi's food. The Sour Cream Hen House is probably among my top 5 things to eat in all of LA.

That's part of why I was disappointed with this book. I was hoping for some recipes that resembled some of the amazing dishes I've tried at Choi's restaurants -- the pickles and dressing at A-Frame, the meatballs at Chego, the wings at Sunny Spot, and so on. Instead, the book contains recipes like Roy Choi's version of Scott Conant's spaghetti and tomato sauce (there's also a separate recipe for spaghetti with chili sauce.) I appreciate how he intersperses recipes while telling his life story but that's why I think this book works better as a biography first and the recipes as a bonus. The recipes are in the book for nostalgia and sentimental value -- not because they're unique or groundbreaking. This is the bummer.

The other thing is, I've had this book for a couple of weeks and I've tried several of the recipes with varying results. One of the things I like about Roy Choi, besides how his food tastes, is his philosophy and his "keeping it real" roots. I'm glad the cookbook is riddled with f-bombs and real, raw emotion. It makes for a fascinating read. My only problem is with the recipes. They're written as if Roy Choi was standing next to you, telling you how to do it, which is cool. Except -- I always seem to have a question about the recipe. It almost seems like nobody tested or proofread the recipes.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Shimo on December 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This part autobiography, part cookbook is a bit over hyped. The man, the myth (ok maybe not myth) Mr. Roy Choi, not to be confused with all the other Roy Choi's you might know. I had high expectations for this book and felt compelled to give it at least four stars, but yet I'm giving it 3 stars. I love some of his food (Kogi), repulsed by some of his food (Chego), and have a similar but much less exciting background as him (minority growing up in a mostly white LA suburb having somewhat of an identity crisis). The hardcover book itself is printed on some high quality thick paper and I do admire the artistic creative photos contained through out the book. His autobiography can be slow and a snoozer at times, but does a good job explaining why his cooking today is the way it is. My problem with the book are the recipes. Some recipes are hits, most are mediocre and are not worth spending half a day in the kitchen. Some recipes are down right insulting: Roasted Sweet Potatoes (potatoes, salt, roasted at 350...can we say "filler material"?) I'm probably one of the few customers who bought the book, who has tried to actually make some of the recipes. Here's some tidbits and my take on the recipes:

- You will need access to a Latino supermarket and a Korean and/or Thai supermarket to make most of the recipes. This should come as no surprise given Choi's background and influences. If you don't have easy access to these markets, I wouldn't waste your time. Ordering ingredients online won't cut it.
- Be prepared to burn a lot of time in the kitchen literally (see below)
- You need a blender/food processor to make a lot of these marinades and sauces along with knives, pots, pans etc.
- If you are diabetic/overweight/health conscious do not attempt at home.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By chefandm32 on November 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a native Angelino and Chef displaced in New England. that said Roy made my heart flutter with his thoughts, realities and experiences that only happen in L.A.. This is more of a memoir than a cook book . A good read but the recipes might be tough if you havent eaten much street food. I read it all in one day and was surprised that there was such a small nod to his classical training, I have eaten his food. He is very talented no question. These recipes are the tacos, dirty dogs and messed up hybrids of food that many of us grew up on , and that is awesome! I would kill for some Korean BBQ off of Olympic Blvd but in Ma that aint happenin. Roy can guide you to some good Korean soul food and a good feel for the food of L.A..I would recommend this to L.A. expats as you will smile every 3 minutes of reading. As well as those who want to experience that small but important region of the country. FYI if you are offended by expletives especially the F word this is not for you. No matter where you are find a moment of sun make a pork belly taco and smile cause your doin it Cali style.
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Richard Lee on November 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing story, amazing life. Roy shows that no matter how many blows life throws him (both figuratively and literally) he always gets back up, and finishes the fight under his terms. I can really relate to his story and upbringing being both Korean and Mexican, and growing up in So Cali...Roy's story epitomizes the Cali Chicano saying "Smile Now, Cry Later"..

Also, being a true fan of his Kogi Tacos, he is a genius....sure taco trucks have been around L.A. for ages, but what he did, he is the OG Godfather of the modern food truck movement that has exploded over the past few years...anyone who disagrees does not know the streets or food scene...and besides the food truck scene, the "fusion" that is everywhere is also a result of his crazy mind....

A very fast read, I started reading it last night for about 3 hours, and another couple of hours today, and its all over! I wish I could read it again for the first time; the truest indication of good book. I could even say that this may be the best book I have read in quite some time, and I typically read at least 3-4 books a month. If you want to read another very similar story and life, pick up Eddie Huang's Fresh Off the Boat. I think these 2 books should be sold together in a package. Now if I can only meet Roy to sign my copy.
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