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Sep 28, 2007 02:30 PM

Break of Dawn - Gourmet Vietnamese inspired food - South OC. REALLY GOOD.

Just had lunch today at an amazing place. It was terrific. If others have heard about it or posted already, sorry for being late to the game.

Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills. Just off the 5 and El Toro back behind Trader Joe's, behind the Laguna Hills mall. Yes it's a bit off the beaten track. The location itself is tucked away, but it is really just a trivial trek... and most of all, COMPLETELY WORTH THE TRIP.

Had lunch today, ordered a bunch of stuff, and it was fabulous.

Pho - Beef
Shrimp Noodles (wide fresh rice noodles, sauteed with several veg and shrimp)
Cheek and Tongue - braised beef cheeks and beef tongue. AMAZING. Might be the best tongue I've had in the past 5 years or more.
Braised Pork - perfect and I mean, PERFECT braise. This also came with two poached eggs that were tempura fried. Holy Chicken Batman! Those eggs were crazy good.

Turns out that this unassuming little casual breakfast and lunch restaurant is owned and operated by a really amazing chef. This guy used to be the exec sous chef at the Ritz Carlton, and the man has serious skills. Serious skills.

Here's their website:

Definitely high on the recommended list, and easy on the wallet. Go check it out. Stop reading. Go now.

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  1. Tempura fried poached eggs? Wow!

    The menu looks great. Will try it out for breakfast soon. Thanks for the rec!

    1. The driving directions on the website are hilarious. I'll be sure to check it out when I'm down in Laguna Hills. My parents live about 5 minutes away from here, and we're a vietnamese family so it should be interesting to see how the food is there!

      1 Reply
      1. We liked our breakfast there and enjoyed talking with the chef. Let's see:

        Iced Vietnamese coffees (strong and sweet).
        Salmon and Eggs with lemon sauce and a hefty oatmeal galette.
        Pork casserole with eggs
        Creme Brulee French Toast (Kahlua custard was firm on the plate)

        We want to go back and try more things. It's in the little shopping center directly south of Laguna Hills Mall, close to Trader Joe's.

        We'll be back to try more things.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Moka

          I've got to check them out for breakfast sometime soon. Lunch was really great.

        2. interesting!
          i will definetely try this place!

          1. I celebrated the Fourth of July at Break and Dawn, and it was well worth the 100 miles of driving. I started with a “sweet” cinnamon sticky bun ($6), baked and served in a cast iron pan with coffee syrup, a pecan glaze and a liberal topping of pecan-studded whipped cream. The hot sticky bun was surprisingly light, pull-apart and caramelized on the bottom.

            Barbecue Pork ($9.50) featured a generous pile of tender braised pulled pork. The hog meat apparently featured the “essence of five spices,” a common Vietnamese spice combo, normally cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise and Szechwan peppercorns. The pork was plated with a “jalapeno grilled corn bake” a sweet cornbread studded with corn kernels; a Napa cabbage slaw with sweet strips of mango; and two eggs tempura, which looked like fried sea scallops, but were actually poached eggs, tempura-fried.

            Biscuit and Gravy ($4.50) incorporated a halved buttermilk cheddar biscuit, sandwiching Vietnamese style pork ginger meatloaf, topped with scallions and plated with sausage-espresso gravy. I was impressed with the moist, char-grilled pork. The biscuit was slightly dense, and tasted like polenta, but at least it tasted like good polenta.

            Corned Beef and Sweet Potato Hash ($4.50) was incredible, featuring diced potatoes and sweet potatoes, char-grilled slices of succulent corned beef, tarragon braised cabbage, and whole grain mustard sauce.

            For a full review, and to see photos of every dish, feel free to visit my website, Food GPS: