Break of Dawn's First, First-Friday-Night Dinner

Last year, we broke the news that Chef Dee Nguyen was opening Break of Dawn Restaurant for dinner in 2012. And by dinner, we don't mean dinner every day, or even every week. This dinner pops up on the first Friday of each month with a menu that will likely change every time.

Stick-A-Forkers Gustavo, Dave and I met up with Niyaz Pirani of Fat Dude On a Diet to sample our way through the inaugural menu last Friday.

Demand for this first monthly dinner was so great that reservations booked up within hours of the announcement. If you were at Nguyen's previous pop-up dinner at The Crosby (or saw Chris Victorio's photo essay from that night), you'll recognize the chef's list-like description of each menu item. The cocktails,for instance, included one called “Cucumber Cooler,” which lists only agave, pineapple juice as its components. Soju provides the boozy kick, and thin-sliced rounds of cucumber add an astringent, cleansing sensation to the drink, but until you ordered one, you might not have known it's the best drink among the three cocktails.

Similarly, each dish lists a title and components. The Bread course lists ricotta, bacon and bamboo honey, but you wouldn't have known the house-baked bread has bits of crisped bacon inside, nor that the ricotta was made in-house as well. In typical Break of Dawn fashion, there's more to a dish than its individual components.

Some proteins will seem familiar from the lunch menu, like the butter-soft short rib and pork belly. Others, like the chicken liver mousse, aren't regular items on the Break of Dawn menu, but we wish they would be. It turned chicken liver skeptic Niyaz into a chicken liver fan with its meaty flavor, and buttery-smooth texture.

The February and March first-Friday-night dinners are already booked. If you plan ahead, you might get in for April. Maybe May. Don't delay, operators are standing by!

24351 Avenida De La Carlota Laguna Hills, 949-587-9418.

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