LOS ANGELES — When Chad and Chase Valencia were growing up in Southern California, their mother, Priscilla Valencia, made sure they stayed in touch with their Filipino heritage.
The Valencias lived in places (Rowland Heights, Chino Hills) with large concentrations of Filipino-Americans. Ms. Valencia was always inviting relatives who had recently immigrated from the Philippines to stay; Chad said that at one point there were nine people living in the family’s two-bedroom apartment.
Most importantly, Ms. Valencia — who is from Pampanga, often hailed as the culinary capital of the Philippines — cooked a large, hearty breakfast, a meal that has special significance in Filipino culture, the brothers said, because of that country’s rich agricultural past, when farmworkers ate substantial meals in the morning to get through the day.
Chad, 33, and Chase, 34, remember waking up on weekends when they were teenagers to the smell of garlic and the sound of fried eggs popping on the stove. “Chase! Chad! Dad!” Ms. Valencia would yell. “Mangan tana!” (Kapampangan for “Let’s eat.”) They’d sit down to longaniza, a type of sweet sausage; silog, or garlic rice; fried eggs; and pan de sal, a sweet yeasted roll.
“Filipino food became part of our DNA,” Chad said. “We crave it.”
As a result, when the Valencia brothers decided to open a restaurant last year in a tucked-away mall in Los Angeles’s Chinatown, they gravitated toward Filipino flavors, paired with the eclectic style of their city. The restaurant, Lasa, became instantly popular, a destination for whole fried pompano laced with brown butter and fish sauce, served with mustard greens and a playlist of Isaiah Rashad and Solange Knowles. The teal walls are decorated with black-and-white family photos, the tables covered in bright floral oilcloth.
But long before Lasa, one of the brothers’ first experiences of how Filipino cuisine could mingle with their American setting was Thanksgiving — and the morning after, when the two would make a hybrid Filipino-American breakfast out of leftovers.
The Valencia family Thanksgiving takes place at a different relative’s house in California each year, with more than 20 people. The spread incorporates a few traditional Thanksgiving dishes — honey-roasted ham, turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing — into a typical Filipino holiday meal: sopas (a creamy chicken soup), rice and pan de sal. The brothers’ favorite addition is asado, a salty, sour, complex dish of pork shoulder slowly cooked in tomato sauce, garlic, bay leaf and calamansi, a small citrus fruit native to the Philippines.
After dinner, most of the guests sleep over, mainly so that they can partake in the brothers’ morning feast: breakfast sandwiches stuffed with leftover asado (or turkey, or ham), and silog topped with turkey and gravy.
The tradition, Chase said, was born of laziness, when the brothers were in high school. “We were stoners,” he said, trying to make a quick breakfast the day after Thanksgiving that was guaranteed to taste great. His brother spotted a pot of leftover asado on the stove, and turned it into a breakfast sandwich, inspired by the egg sandwiches Ms. Valencia used to make them for school lunch.
“At first it was just Chad, throwing an egg into the leftover meat, making sandwiches, and finishing them in the oven,” Chase said. “And then we were all like, ‘This is dope.’”
The kitchen became an assembly line. The brothers made breakfast sandwiches stacked with either reheated asado, whose flavors had deepened overnight, or pan-seared pieces of ham or turkey — as well as eggs and a melted slice of queso de bola (a nutty Filipino cheese, coated with red wax, that is served during holidays), all sandwiched between pan de sal, whose sweetness stands up to all the savory components.
Every family member has developed a specific preference. Chase mixes the asado and its accompanying sauce into the eggs, like a scramble, to become the base of the sandwich. Chad crowns his with a fried egg, and then pops the yolk to let it seep into the top of the roll.
And because rice is an automatic accompaniment to most Filipino meals, the brothers serve the breakfast sandwiches with their take on silog: chewy bits of leftover rice bathed in garlic, and topped with leftover turkey, gravy and a fried egg. Chad said it’s similar to the hefty Hawaiian surfer dish loco moco — rice piled high with a burger patty, fried egg and brown gravy.
As with the breakfast sandwiches, there are no hard-and-fast rules for the silog, except when it comes to the egg. “It has to be a little runny,” so the yolk can saturate the grains of rice, Chase said. “No over medium or over hard. That ain’t Filipino.”
The morning after Thanksgiving in the Valencia household is always chaotic. No one sits at the table, or wakes at the same time. The sandwiches are made in waves, along with a huge batch of silog. The brothers usually devour theirs at the stove, bits of egg and sauce spilling onto the kitchen floor.
“It is 100 percent sentimental,” Chad said of the big Filipino breakfast. “It is going to stick to your ribs, and you’re not going to be hungry for a hot minute.”
Isa Fabro, a Filipino-American pastry chef and the owner of Isamade, a baking company in Los Angeles, also grew up with breakfast as a central meal. “It is about that basic comfort food that is so simple but so necessary,” she said. “Filipinos have struggled. To be able to have a nice breakfast has become extremely important because oftentimes we didn’t even get that. It’s this idea of, ‘Well, at least I ate breakfast.’”
Last year, Ms. Valencia, 61, told her sons that she was tired of cooking, and that they would have to host Thanksgiving dinner. Because their homes weren’t big enough to fit everyone, the brothers decided to celebrate the holiday at Lasa, where Chad cooks and his brother oversees the dining room.
The spread included some elements of the typical Valencia family Thanksgiving, but mainly dishes that were true to Lasa: roasted delicata squash with brown butter, pili nuts and queso de bola; deep-fried salmon with garlic-and-vinegar aioli; and pork belly rolled and stuffed with lemongrass, leeks, pepper and garlic, similar to the Filipino pork dish lechon.
“We were so scattered and stressed out,” Chad said of the dinner, mainly because he and his brother wanted to impress their mother.
On a recent afternoon, they called her on FaceTime (she was on a cruise headed to the Caribbean with their father, Romualdo Valencia) to ask what she thought of last year’s Thanksgiving spread. “Uhh,” she responded. “I like your food. The flavors are there.”
What she really missed, though, was the morning-after breakfast. Because Thanksgiving was at the restaurant, everyone went home after dinner and the brothers didn’t get the chance to make their sandwiches and silog. But they are hosting at Lasa again this year and are determined to restart the tradition.
Perhaps they could split the family members between their homes, they wondered aloud, or everyone could just return to the restaurant in the morning.
Or as Chad suggested, with complete sincerity, “Maybe everyone has to just sleep over here at Lasa!”