It’s been a long three and a half month wait, at least, for those of us in the know. Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills has had to relocate due to the plaza’s remodeling efforts. Yesterday, the restaurant finally opened its doors a few spaces down from the old spot where Chef Dee Nguyen had been for over seven years.
Those of you who know Chef Dee’s story are always humbled by it, those who don’t undoubtedly will be when they find out. On opening day, a lot of loyal customers and friends showed up to support this beloved eatery as soon as its doors were open at 8am sharp. When I arrived 20 minutes later, familiar faces had already comfortably settled at some tables perusing the menu and enjoying a cup of Joe.
The familiar menu items remain with a few new additions. Sadly, my favorite dish of scampi is no longer, however, there are so many others to take its place, such as the Bacon and Eggs ($13) which sees house cured pork belly interspersed with tempura eggs, a pinch of Napa cabbage slaw and kimchi-spiced crema. The presentation is gorgeous and what follows in your mouth is equally exciting.
Another new item is Beef Brisket ($18), an extremely generous portion enough to feed two (unless you’re super hungry or a hearty eater). Tongue ragu, ginger, King oyster mushrooms, and a few shimeiji, are thrown into the mix and served with two Merlot poached eggs. In my opinion, this is a dinner entree, not a breakfast item — kudos to you if you’re able to polish it off entirely.
Smoked Ham ($13) is a new take on the original “green eggs and ham” and loved by all at the table. Diced smoked ham is tossed together with Brussels sprout hash drizzled with Thai basil-pesto Hollandaise and topped with soft poached eggs. The oozing egg yolk adds a rich, creamy dimension to the smokiness of the ham and potatoes.
One of my favorites on the menu, Sausage and Rice ($13), remain. Incredibly savory Hawaiian sausage served with Vietnamese rice is enough on their own, but add to that the fresh crunch of green papaya slaw and runny fried eggs — perfection on a plate! My Asian roots definitely approves of eating rice for breakfast.
Though not one of my favorites, Skillet ($14), a Break of Dawn favorite, I knew this would be left on the menu, or else, would cause a furor among BoD loyalists. A sizzling hot plate of roasted new potatoes, cheddar poached eggs, bacon topped with chipotle sour cream is a hefty meal even for the biggest of appetites. Chef Dee says this is one of the top three sellers of all time and will most probably always stay on the menu.
Another of my favorites is Smoked Salmon ($15) with a crispy oatmeal pancake, herb poached egg, fennel and preserved kumquat. Although the accoutrements are a touch different to before, the dish stayed very true to the original — I hope this never leaves the menu either.
If you are an omelette fan, then the Ranchero Omelette ($13) is definitely your choice. Chorizo, charred tomatillo, epazote, queso fresco and avocado — all the ingredients that are needed to make it muy autentica!
To finish (or to start), there is the Break of Dawn signature French Toast Creme Brulee ($16) of raisin brioche is torched before being topped with Mexican chocolate, chocolate-soy caramel and coconut! It may look super cloying and extremely sweet, but you’ll be surprised once you put a piece in your mouth.
The thing with Break of Dawn is, you either love it or you don’t. There doesn’t seem to be middle ground when I hear people talk about it. The dishes which hold dear to my heart are always the ones I choose when I’m here, as I’m sure is the case for many of its regular customers. What is your favorite BoD dish?
Break of Dawn
24291 Avenida de la Carlota
Laguna Hills, CA 92653