In an attempt to be more adventurous in the OC, my family and I tried a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Laguna Hills for brunch. All of those descriptors are totally atypical for the H.o.P. We don’t eat “Vietnamese fusion.” We certainly don’t do brunch. And who the heck eats in Laguna Hills?
The chef/owner of Break of Dawn has a very sad/interesting/inspiring story. Perhaps for some, it makes the food taste better knowing how hard the chef/owner had to work to get where he is. For others, it probably doesn’t make a lick of difference. I suppose I fall in the middle. I admire the guy, but I wish the food was a bit better.
Kabocha Squash creamy soup, crispy lobster & shrimp roll
The soup was quite watery, not the thick heartiness I expect from anything containing squash. As a result it was on the bland side. It was creamy sweetness, but not the good kind.
The shrimp roll was a nice addition. Flavors were light for any Vietnamese egg roll. I don’t think I tasted much lobster. A good eggroll in the end, but pretty standard.
Benedict 2 soft poached eggs, grilled potato bread, smoked salmon, asian pesto hollandaise
Triple T is partial to eggs benedict so of course she ordered this. People really raved about this on Yelp, but Triple T did not seem that impressed. I had a bite and it was just OK. I like the idea of eggs benedict but I really can’t get over the idea of runny egg yolks. My father trained my siblings and I to cringe at the site or taste of egg yolks. Nowadays I try to appreciate the “perfectly poached egg,” but it can be a struggle.
Mac &Cheese sicilian sausage, short rib, bacon fried egg, smoked gouda-tomato carbonara
Smooth Obturator (previously known as RCM) thought this dish was a failure of execution. Conceptually, the idea of all these flavors would excite anybody. Unfortunately, it was another bland, flavorless, overly heavy dish. The pool of gouda-tomato carbonara really added nothing to the dish.
Chicken Stew lightly curried, carrot, edamame, lemongrass broth
A toned down version of Vietnamese curry. I wish it wasn’t so toned down. Another bland dish. A teaspoon of fish sauce would have kicked up the flavor in this dish. A bowl of rice would also have been a nice addition in exchange for the single slice of toasted baguette. It was a pretty dish though with all the varying colors and textures.
Beef Short Rib merlot poached eggs, mushroom ragu, prickly ash pepper jus
The Matriarch ordered the most tasty and successful dish of the meal. The short ribs were tender and flavorful, but the surprise element to the dish were the merlot poached eggs. Those are the light purple blobs. They actually look pretty ugly, but tasted delicious. A subtle wine taste, the richness of the yolk, all mixed in with the mushroom ragu sauce. Mmmm. I would definitely order this one again.
Cinnamon Bun baked in a cast iron pan, coffee almond glaze, whipped cream
I actually ordered the pre fixe menu of the soup, the stew, and what should have been the mini chocolate creme brulee. I don’t like coconut all that much so I opted for the regular cinnamon bun. OMG, it was a diabetic’s heaven served in a piping hot skillet. The bun was hot, sticky, soft, and not too sweet actually. I had to resist not eating the whole thing, but I think I practically did.
French Toast Creme Brulee mexican chocolate and coconut custard, raisin and cinnamon brioche, caramel chocolate sauce
Another winner! Everything melded in beautiful gastronomy harmony. The French toast was well made. The interesting presentation of the French toast atop a thin serving of creme brulee with a chocolate caramel sauce poured over was a spectacular explosion of sugar in my mouth. This with the cinnamon bun was probably a bit over the top, but we figured we wouldn’t be coming back just based on the failure of the savory dishes to “wow” us.
I liked the concept of Vietnamese fusion brunch. I can understand why the place is so wildly popular in OC. You don’t find many places in OC attempting innovation on one of America’s most favorite meals of the day. While I admire what the chef/owner has created in his restaurant, which thrives amidst ho hum chain stores in Laguna Hills, I had hoped for more. The concepts are all there, but the flavor isn’t. I think the place will continue to be successful despite my lukewarm feelings, if not soley for the amazing sweets!
24351 Avenida De La Carlota
Laguna Hills, CA 92653