Back in April of this year, Chef Dee Nguyen of Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills created a pop up simply known as BoD RAW. The 10 seat two seatings were sold out within minutes. Since then, there was Un Tour de Vietnam in June, and Pig-n-Friends in August, both of which I missed. So when I hear that Cow-n-Buddies is happening in October, I make sure I put my name on the list months ahead of time.
A few weeks ago, Cow-n-Buddies saw 54 guests pack into Break of Dawn. There is only one seating at 6pm. Every guest is served at the same time. The 12-course meal is priced at $120 (cash only), with options to purchase drinks from a select menu. You are welcome to bring your own wine, but a corkage fee applies.
Most of these pop ups at BoD are filled with loyal customers, friends and family. It is no different tonight.
Course One: We begin with a little jar of what’s only described as Pineapple. This amuse bouche of sorts comprises a scoop of pineapple sorbet, a little dollop of kefir infused with coconut liqueur, crunchy hazelnut, and sprigs of pennyroyal, which is reminiscent of spearmint. It is a welcoming introduction, as well as a palate brightener to prepare for what’s to come.
Course Two: Ankimo-Foie is next. A corn, potato, requeson beef marrow croquette sits alongside a smoked ankimo foie mousse. Whipped bone marrow umeboshi is dusted with katsuoboshi mushroom salt. Thinly sliced cured cucumber and onion sprouts garnish and add brightness.
Course Three: Wagyu and yellowfin sit side by side on top of a mousse/gelee. There is soy, basil, and pomegranate, which I like separately. When the basil and pomegranate come together, the latter overpowers the former and the basil aspect is lost.
Course Four: Uni with passion fruit, avocado, tomato-demi and sorghum. I love the fragrance of passion fruit, but here, it is subtle, never overwhelming the delicate uni. The sunflower sprouts add another element of flavor to the mix.
Course Five: Tartare 35 Days Aged sees little dices of beef tartare charred with eucalyptus ash. I really enjoy the bold flavors of the beef, but the chunks of scallops are too delicate and gets lost within the bold flavors of the beef and shaved cured duck yolk.
Course Six: Tongue is my second favorite dish of the evening. A tender slice of tongue is served with a tableside service of celeriac “soup”, peanut, kiwi mustard, and garum. The celery leaf garnish adds another flavor profile to the already delicious combination.
Course Seven: Positively my favorite course of the night — Salmon — with a name root puree, pea shoot, ikura, and a drizzle of calvados beef jus. The ikura adds a salty element, while the jus elevates the entire dish, giving it a luxurious mouth-feel.
Course Eight: Veal is paired with blue crab — not necessary as the veal, barley, and miso are so robust in flavor it overpowers the subtlety of the crab. A supreme of unshiu, or satsuma orange, adds brightness to the finish.
Course Nine: Prime Rib 45 Days Aged — my third favorite dish is a beautifully executed piece of meat packed full of flavor and a great chew. Heirloom carrots are served two ways: in a sauce, and thinly sliced.
Course Ten: Sticky Brown Rice is served with course nine. It is an Asian tamale with a piece of pork belly in the middle of the rice. This brings back childhood memories when my mom would make bamboo leaves wrapped glutinous rice parcels for Dragon Boat Festival.
Course Eleven: Yamaimo is a panna cotta-like dessert made with makgeolli, a Korean fizzy alcoholic rice drink. I love this dessert, it is light and the key lime adds a refreshing punch to the palate.
Course Twelve: Anjou Pear is a bit too sweet for me. A pear tart is presented as a “rose” rolled up in puff pastry, sitting in a chocolate dulce de leche sauce.
I want to say you can experience for yourself, but you have to be quick. The next dinner to be held in January 2016 is already sold out. If you want to be a part of this, follow BoD on Facebook, or call the restaurant and ask Chef Dee to hold a spot for you for the next one — possibly in March 2016.
Break of Dawn
24291 Avenida de la Carlota, Ste P4
Laguna Hills, CA 92653