Saturday, November 3, 2007

Break Of Dawn

Break of Dawn was the setting for a get together for the OC Food Blogs group. This restaurant has garnered much attention among the foodie world. You have a highly acclaimed chef in Dee Nguyen, who was the Executive Sous Chef at the Ritz Carlton, who opened this restaurant in order to spend more time with his family.

The space is rather quaint, but is set up to appear very open and minimally decorated with splashes of Asian touches throughout the restaurant. Above the kitchen, Chef Nguyen proudly displays his kitchen whites from his Ritz Carlton days. Articles about the restaurant also find their way around the walls. Break of Dawn is very informal, with picnic type benches inside while a couple tables are set outside for those who prefer to dine al fresco.

The Crème Brulee French Toast sounds like a winner on paper. What’s not to like when you combine French Toast and Crème Brulee. Four large slices of raisin brioche are dipped in an egg wash and then set in barely set crème brulee. Sugar is then sprinkled onto the very coconutty crème brulee then torched to give it that familiar crackle. The French Toast is then liberally dusted with powdered sugar, like Al Pacino in that infamous scene in Scarface. There were a couple of problems with this dish unfortunately. The French Toast was pre-cooked and was stone cold. The second problem was that the flavor of coconut totally overwhelmed the taste of the dish. It was hard to taste anything but coconut.

The Corned Beef dish was a slight take on the old standard Corned Beef and Cabbage. Thin slices of briny corned beef sit atop a sweet potato hash that is also mixed with potatoes. All this sits in a glistening pool of mustard sauce. To fit in with the breakfast theme of Break of Dawn, two poached eggs are served with the dish. When cut into, their bright yellow liquid gold comes rushing out like an oil gusher. An astringent topping of braised cabbage finishes the dish. All of the elements worked well together, however, I thought the acidity of the cabbage was a distraction from the rest of the dish.

Perhaps we caught Break of Dawn on a bad day, or they weren’t ready for a party of 17 people. With Chef Nguyen’s credentials, a second chance is definitely in the cards.

Here’s Chubbypanda’s review.

Break of Dawn
24351 Avenida De La Carlota #N-6
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
(949) 587-9418


Veronica said...

Everything on the menu sounded so promising. Maybe we caught them on a bad day.

elmomonster said...

I had the same corned beef dish. But I got the tempura eggs instead. What's weird is that although I thought it was so-so at the restaurant, the leftovers I brought home actually tasted better later that afternoon.

polar said...

VB, I went back w/ my younger brother just yesterday. The french toast was warm, and it sat in the cool custard. i think Chef Nguyen anticipated our large group and preped them ahead of time. the Toast wasn't hard at all. quite soft like any french toast should taste.

ChristianZ said...

My Eggs Benedict was good, but I wasn't in food analyzing mode. I'll still be going back by myself or with a small group and ordering the Chilaquiles Ranchero.

Vegasbuff said...


Yes, I was kind of disappointed as well. Reading CP's review, everything sounded great. Maybe next time.


Maybe we know the trick to this place. Just like chili or stew, it gets better the longer it sits, LOL.


Glad to hear things were better on your visit with your brother. I had a feeling they had pre-made some items in anticipation of our group, but I wouldn't have minded waiting a little longer to have the food cooked to order.


I wasn't really into critiquing the food on this visit either, but everything seemed "off" so I guess I took notice of that.

Chubbypanda said...

Awww... Too bad you didn't like it. I've never had a bad experience there. I wonder if trying to fill 17 orders at once just overwhelmed him.

Vegasbuff said...


I think they may have been overwhelmed by our party, but given Chef Nguyen's experience, I would have thought they would have still made everything to order. I will give Break of Dawn another chance when I'm in the area though.

Anonymous said...

I called this restaurant to apply for a job, wrong idea! I was treated horribly on the phone. When i asked to speak to the manager the employee told me he wasn't there.
Then hung up!

I called back to ask again, because I was sure the manager would like to know how his employees were treating people who called.

The guy who answered the phone told me the manager's name was Z, and when i asked to talk to him he hung up on me again.

Now I was determined to let the manager know that his employees were terrible.

I called again and again and again I was hung up on. I called one last time to tell them I was coming to the restaurant to talk to the manager and the head cook.

I came to the restaurant and was confronted by two men at the door who would tell me nothing except to leave. I grabbed a card on the way out.

DEE NGUYEN is the chef and turns out he is who I was talking to! I couldn't believe it.

He proceeded to chase me through the parking lot, call the police, and threaten me swearing at me that he was going to lock my punk a$$ up! He even went so far as to say he "Eat's pieces of sh$t like me for breakfast. I had to reply, "You eat sh$t for breakfast?" He said he did.

This is a breakfast place, so, i just wonder how sh$tty their food tastes.

I could not let this go unreported because someone who owns a restaurant shouldn't be allowed to treat people like this.

I hope nobody give their hard earned money to this crazy guy, and no one wastes their time eating at Break of Dawn.

There's a nice way to handle things and theres the DEE NGUYEN way. Take my advice, don't waste your time being associated with this loser!