Runny Side Up

The Eggslut restaurant

The Eggslut restaurant

Two years ago, Eggslut, the originator of mushy eggs between soft brioche buns, ditched a familiar food truck for a permanent location at the Broadway entrance of the venerable Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.  From eight in the morning to four in the afternoon a line snakes around the large food stand. Excitement of this length cannot be entirely attributed to fickle millennials apt to abandon friendly Wexler's Deli as fast as their last Silicon Beach job for the next new thing. There has to be something more to Eggslut’s popularity, but the answer won’t come from Alvin Cailan, its Filipino American chef/owner.

Eggslut has an unlisted phone number. The only way to contact Alvin is through an inquiry tab on the company website.  His one reply to my web request goes: "Thanks for your consideration. How do we get started?" 

His personal email address was supposed to be my golden ticket to a conversation with one of the hottest innovators in casual cuisine. He never replied to my subsequent requests for an interview. 

My 11-year-old son remarked, ‘It tastes common but better.’

When I visited the restaurant one weekday morning, two of the staff said Alvin is never there.  “He's busy,” each told me separately at opposite ends of the long counter as if this was the company response. Alvin had apparently moved on to the next Eggslut soon to open in Las Vegas.  After a half hour in the queue and another 20 minutes for my name to be called, I was ready to draw parallels to absentee landlords and the decline of feudal Japan. Since I cannot write a profile on Alvin based on his little quote, I will attempt a restaurant review.

I'm No Critic

I usually write about the people behind the restaurants and leave the food reviews to experts. I have, though, been eating as long as the best critics. I can also identify with the mainstream Filipino whose evening meal can be as simple as a bowl of white rice topped with Vienna sausages from a can.   Normal taste buds might relate well to me, though I’m as vulnerable to a fad as the guy with the 2015 beard.

The Filipino customer ahead of me in line had been lassoed into coming by his Latina wife, who has adored Egg Slut since its food truck days.  I mentioned that the menu harkens back to my bachelor days when scrambled eggs were a quick substitute on the hotplate for fish, ground beef, stir fry or anything else that adds color to rice. "Yeah, what can be special about eggs?" echoed the husband to his wife's chagrin. We had no choice but to find out.

Three unadorned Eggslut sandwiches: (left to right) Sausage, Egg & Cheese ($7); Fairfax ($7); and Bacon, Egg & Cheese ($6).

Three unadorned Eggslut sandwiches: (left to right) Sausage, Egg & Cheese ($7); Fairfax ($7); and Bacon, Egg & Cheese ($6).

I wish I could say my initial resentment from being spurned got swept aside by the organic scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese in my Fairfax sandwich, or the house-made turkey sausage in the Sausage, Egg and Cheese sandwich selected by my son, Gregory, age 11. The sandwich was not quite worth a waiting time that stretched from breakfast into brunch; but all the smiling faces in the long line can't be wrong.  There is supposed to be wisdom in crowds.

My theory is that Eggslut puts a yellow corona around the Egg McMuffin days of our youth with egg-centric sandwiches enhanced by the modern sophistication of caramelized onions and chimichurri sauce. Or as my 11-year-old son remarked, "It tastes common but better." The drippy egg does demand extra napkins and urgent consumption before the bun goes soggy.

Pardon me if I’m behind the times, but I was a little bewildered that the payment system asks for the tip at the ordering station when my only interaction has been with a computer. The staff looks reasonably happy to dispel any suspicions that the gratuity is necessary to plug the gap between the company’s paycheck and a living wage. It is obvious that Alvin has employees he can trust while he’s away and he is willing to spread the wealth.

How Many Stars Do You Give It?

As a reviewer, I’m obligated to quantify my impressions of Eggslut with a numerical rating. Since this is a national publication, I invented a formula to account for regional tastes. Subtract your Zip code from 100,000 and divide the result by 1,000. This way, residents inside the 90XXX area of Los Angeles will have an adequate number of stars to validate their downtown parking expense (the restaurant only figuratively validates parking), while my relatives in the 98XXX Pacific Northwest will have their modest expectations met. People with the smallest Zip codes from back East will have a high rating to go on California Dreaming.  


Later that night, my 11-year-old son gushed, "That was the best sandwich I ever ate." Youth has spoken.  Disregard everything I said. 

Anthony Maddela

Anthony Maddela

Anthony Maddela is helping his daughter Charlotte, 13, start a Young Birders Club in Los Angeles.

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