Breakfast for Dinner: A Recap of the Break of Dawn Pop-Up

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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Lamb meatballs, gouda, espresso-bison gravy, Vietnamese yoghurt cucumber. Click here to see more images from the night.
Chef Dee Nguyen of Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills took over the kitchen at the Crosby last night, slinging dishes of Asian-influenced comfort food out to a waiting crowd. We probably killed the menu between all of us Forkers, but the best savory dish had to be the lamb meatballs with gouda, espresso-bison gravy and da ua (Vietnamese yoghurt) cucumber, served with tiny slider rolls.


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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Ocotpus with lap xuong, oatmea-onyx rice, peanut, banana blossom and herbs.
The octopus with lap xuong (sweet sausage), oatmeal-onyx rice, peanuts, banana blossom and herbs was also a hit, and there was a sudden run on the pork belly with tempura egg, kabocha and goji-berry gastrique. Gustavo pronounced the shrimp and grits worthwhile. On the sweet side, while French toast with soy-caramel brûlée and azuki brioche was excellent, the runaway winner was the goat cheesecake with kir sorbet, candied beets, chocolate-almond crunch and tiny sprigs of micro-cilantro. That last tied the dish together in a way one wouldn't expect from an herbal garnish; it was an indispensable part of the dish, and I wish I'd had more of it.

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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
The French toast with soy-caramel brulee, azuki brioche.
Confidential to the Crosby kids: Okay, the rau ram ended up in the Hollandaise, but the kumquat press (gin, kumquat, hung cay, lemon, brown sugar, soda and Sprite) was nice and refreshing, and the heirloom Bloody Mary with Thai basil and Thai chile was a hit as well--put that Bloody Mary back on the menu when it's tomato season!

In the meantime, to see more of what you missed, click here for the slideshow!

Location Info

The Crosby - CLOSED

400 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA

Category: Music

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9 comments
Cunning Stunts
Cunning Stunts

I have always wondered about how the resident chef feels when there is all this buzz and "packed house" when a "guest chef" shows up. I wonder if they feel all sad because someone else created a stir like that.

jon
jon

I went last night and our shrimp and grits were served cold, shrimp was under cooked, lamb and meatballs were ok, some of the pieces of the french toast had a burnt flavor and the dish was also served luke warm. I have yet to try break of dawn and after trying the pop up last night I am in no hurry to get there. Underwhelmed is an understatement.

Lancee Nuna
Lancee Nuna

That's the most raveless raving review I've ever read. It sounds like the kind of meal you're supposed to enjoy on moral or political grounds but wind up stuffing most of it into a napkin or pooch and then stopping at In-N-Out followed by Dairy Queen on the way home. I could be projecting, based on my negative experiences at Break of Dawn, and I know that Nguyen has OC Weekly's number, but I don't sense a passionate experience.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

In this case, the guest chef was invited by the host chef.

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

Everything jon said makes it sound to me like what happens when somebody tries to cook for a ton of people all at once in an unfamiliar place. None of it sounds like the chef doesn't know what they are doing. Which makes me think I'll be heading to Break of Dawn tomorrow.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Let me jump in here: The shrimp and grits were fabulous—fat, buttery crustaceans juicer than an ripe apricot, while the grits reminded me of getting driven through South Carolina by a Southern gent who replied to every question I had with "Yes, sir" or "No, sir." The addition of a short rib, tender like the night, was an epic surprise. My chica's fried egg came with a delightful amuse bouche of edible flowers. And that French toast? Why, if I wasn't a gentleman, I'd lick that huge plate like a panting Labrador. Raving enough for ya?

And to Jon below: the French toast had a burnt flavor because, you know, brulee has a burnt flavor.

DanGarion
DanGarion

If you haven't been there yet, you are missing out.

jon
jon

Sorry, not that burnt.

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