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In 1995, when Charles Phan opened a little restaurant on a dodgy street in San Francisco’s Mission District serving his mother’s spring rolls, papaya salad and clay-pot caramel chicken, no other chef was doing anything quite like it. Phan starts his book with recipes from that time, when he had only a shoestring budget and a vision of Vietnamese food made differently—with pristine California ingredients. With each chapter, he describes a new stage of the restaurant’s growth, and as the book progresses, the recipes become more and more creative.