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.
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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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!