Break of Dawn (Laguna Hills, CA)

24351 Avenida De La Carlota
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Chef/Owner: Dee Nguyen
8:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday

As the former executive sous chef at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, Chef Dee Nguyen was on the path to opening his own fine dining restaurant one day.  But Chef Nguyen had to reevaluate his professional career track when his son became permanently disabled. Chef Dee left the Ritz and opened his own restaurant Break of Dawn and has gained much acclaim from the culinary folks ever since.  Break of Dawn opens only for breakfast and lunch so that Chef Dee could spend more time with his son and wife. His inspiring story is one that tugs at your heart. Read more on their website.

His dishes reflect his attention to detail and artistry.The menu is split into two categories: Traditional and Savory.  He creates the classic American hearty breakfast dishes inspiring them with his Vietnamese and French influence.

 Skillet - roasted new potatoes, bacon, cheddar poached eggs, guacamole and chipotle sour cream. (11)
My two friends each ordered their own Skillet. Here's your classic comfort breakfast food. You got everything you always wanted on a fiery hot skillet, steaming with lots of savory flavors.  They thoroughly enjoyed the dish as I remembered.

Benedict - poached eggs, grilled potato bread, smoked ham and Asian pesto hollandaise (11)
I was quite amazed at this simple, yet artistic presentation of my dish.  Country potatoes were nicely seasoned and fried. The pesto and Hollandaise sauce was pretty light and mild for my taste.

The poached eggs were perfectly shaped with a nice little tail at the end.  As I pierced my fork through the egg, the yellow yolk oozed out over the seared ham. Chef Dee once said, "There are at least five things one needs to balance for the poached egg: heat, salt, vinegar, water and the pot." (OC Register)

French Toast Creme Brulee  (12)
What a concept! French toast with Crème Brûlée? Several thick slabs of raisin and cinnamon brioche with generous amounts of creamy chocolate drizzle was sitting atop this huge round dish of a thin layer of crème brûlée.  The crème brûlée had some coconut and Kahlua flavors and the nicely caramelized crust finished the dessert well.  Do share with others because it's a lot and was a bit sweet and rich for me, especially if you are eating it after a savory breakfast.  Just a few bites would be enough to satisfy the sweet tooth. At least for me it did.

Break of Dawn is located in the plaza next to the Laguna Hills Mall. I wouldn't have imagined this gourmet breakfast-brunch restaurant being in this suburban type setting (ie. Trader Joe's is right next door) but I'm glad that there's a restaurant where the chef fuses different heritage influences into classic dishes, creating culinary works of art.

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