Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Location, Same Great Result at Break of Dawn

Break of Dawn Restaurant
24291 Avenida De La Carlota #P-4
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Yes we do hit up restaurants more than once. Even with a growing list of restaurants we want to go to, we wanted to try Break of Dawn again. When we first hit up Break of Dawn, way back in 2009, it reaffirmed my love of doing this blog. I probably would not have even heard about this restaurant if it were not for the blogs that I read back then.

For those of you that do not know the story of Break of Dawn, here's a condensed version of the story. It was opened by Chef Dee Nguyen, in 2006 after a very successful stint as the Executive Sous Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. He left his lucrative career to be closer, and care for his special needs son. This restaurant just happens to be three miles from his home, and being the boss, he can set the hours of the restaurant to allow for the maximum amount of time to be with his son, Berlin. Break of Dawn is currently only open Wednesday through Sunday, and only from 8 til 2pm.

Just this year, they moved three doors down from where they had been for seven years. Still in the same shopping center, but now they are between Road Runner Sports and Chinese restaurant, Mandarin Terrace. We spotted the new location right away, with an assist from what I assume to be Dee's old time truck parked out in front. Not sure what make this truck is, but it had a 1939 license plate on it. I'm sure one of you will alert me to what kind of truck this is.

Anyways, the new spot is a lot more open than the old location. We showed up here at 11 on a recent Sunday morning, and there was a pretty good sized group of people waiting to be seated. We put our name down on the list, and walked around the nearby stores. After about a half hour we were seated inside. They also have a nice sized patio in the front of the restaurant. Inside the space is dominated by a graffiti mural spelling out the name of the restaurant. The space is airy, with lots of exposed light colored wood, and high ceilings. Even with it being so busy here, the restaurant seemed to be in control.

The menu at Break of Dawn could best be described as traditional breakfasts with a twist. Maybe more like brunch dishes, but like nothing you have seen before. There are egg dishes, french toast, and other breakfast favorites, but prepared with Chef Nguyen's special vision, which has brought a large number of people to this restaurant. Everything on this menu looked so good, I was debating over ten or so items. Let's see what we finally decided on for this visit.

We'll start with Katie's selection on this morning, the Sausage and Rice ($13). See, this is not anything you can get at your local Denny's. This plate was made up of some Hawaiian sausage, two fried eggs, rice, scallions, hijiki, and a green papaya smear. I had never heard of hijiki before, but after doing a little research it's a brown sea vegetable growing on the coastlines of Asia, and it's also been named one of the most healthy foods in the world. Katie loved this plate, calling it, "the best breakfast she has had in Orange County". She was surprised with the lightness of the sausage, the eggs were fried nicely, without being too greasy, and the rice was good and flavorful. Needless to say, she was very happy with this.

Man I had a rough time deciding what to have at Break of Dawn. I had my choices narrowed down to ten items, but finally decided on the Mac and Cheese ($14). Yes you read that right, this is the mac and cheese. The menu describes this dish as bacon fried eggs, with Sicilian sausage, short rib, and a Parmesan-tomato cream sauce served alongside of this. I would better describe this breakfast as a mac and cheese omelette. With all of the meat included in this I thought it was going to be heavy, but it was one of the lightest breakfasts I have had. The sauce kind of gave this an Italian feel to this dish, and the macaroni only added to that feeling. Very different, and after eating this it made me wonder why no one else has thought of a macaroni and cheese omelette.

Love creme brulee, but want to have it for breakfast? Then this French Toast Creme Brulee ($16) is for you. This french toast starts with a raisin brioche, then has Mexican chocolate, coconut, and a chocolate-soy caramel thrown in. Not as sweet as you might think, but oh so good. No need for syrup for this breakfast plate. Katie and I really were jockeying for bites of this near the end.

It's good to know that just because Break of Dawn has moved, the food and Dee Nguyen's vision has not changed. This is still as good as the first time we visited, and maybe even run a little smoother. I was not only impressed with everything that hit our table, but I had a front row seat watching Dee oversee his kitchen. He was calling out orders, letting waiters know their food was up, and talking to customers. For such a busy day, we made it in and out a lot faster than I would have expected. Sure the prices are a little on the high side for breakfast, but the quality that you are getting makes it worth it once in awhile. Good to be back at Break of Dawn, now just looking forward to our next visit, which will happen a lot more frequently than once every five years.

Out of five bottles of dishwashing liquid, (because Dawn is the best selling dishwashing brand in the US, and I'd imagine they would have to use a lot of it to clean all the plates here), five being best to zero being worst, Break of Dawn gets 4 bottles of dishwashing liquid.

For more information about Break of Dawn, go to their website here:

Break of Dawn Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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