New Salsa at Break of Dawn: Habanero!

Glad to report that Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills, one of the best breakfast joints in Orange County, is still as great as ever. New dish to try (might've been on the menu before, but first time for me): cinnamon roll, presented on a hot skillet, topped with a mound of cream as large as a clenched fist, decorated with shaved almonds. Second-best cinnamon roll in Orange County, ranking just below the monsters at Seal Beach's Sweet Jill's.

I always enjoyed their homemade hot sauce, somewhere between Tapatio and that Asian salsa with the seeds you usually find next to Sriracha bottles. But today, after asking for the it, chef/owner Dee Nguyen casually dropped that he's been working on a habanero salsa, as well.

“Got some?” I asked. He nodded and went to grab a small dish. Inside was a dark-orange salsa, looking more like a barbecue rub than traditional habanero salsa, which is usually a yellowish orange and has the consistency of relish. The genius of Nguyen was at play: this was his take on habanero salsa, and it worked. He retained its trademark hell and citrus aftertaste, but ratcheted down a couple of notches (of course, take the description of its heat with the caveat that I'm Mexi). If Nguyen sold the salsa in bottles, I'd buy it.

But make sure to ask for Nguyen's habanero salsa, if interested. Ask for hot sauce, he'll give you the wonderful usual!

Break of Dawn, 24351 Ave. de la Carlota, Ste. N-6, Laguna Hills, (949) 587-9418;

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