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Melanie Wong | Jun 10, 201804:48 PM    

Ever since I saw a photo of Break of Dawn's tempura eggs published by Professor Salt, I've been kind of obsessed with trying this place. Last week I departed Oceanside and drove up to Laguna HIlls in time for brunch.

The menu offers many interesting brunch plates . . . bison sausage, wine-poached eggs, spaetzle, tongue ragu, Thai basil hollandaise. Mostly quite heavy sounding from dairy, duck fat and gravy that did make me glad I can't eat here regularly. Still, I stuck to the object of my obsession and ordered the "Bacon and Eggs", $14, a combo of house cured pork belly, tempura eggs, Napa slaw with kimchi spiced crema with a cup of soft, sticky rice thrown in as well.

The crispy tempura shell was kind of greasy yet became magic with a squeeze of the house hot sauce when combined in a mouthful with the rich, runny yolk. Yet, for me the best part of this plate was the thick slab of pork belly. From the first fork piercing of the crunchy crust giving way to the luscious fat layer and buttery soft flesh underneath, I knew this was going to be good. The assertive glaze that tasted like Gochujang was just enough to highlight the meat without overpowering its porky essence. And the Napa cabbage slaw bright with fermentation tang and mild spice offset the stultifying richness. I boxed up nearly half my food to take-out to enjoy more after recovering from this initial food coma.

Part of the reason I had so much to take away is that I also ordered the Cinnamon bun, $8, baked in a iron skillet. In recent months I've tried cinnamon rolls from more than a dozen places outside SoCal. A tender, spongy style, this version has more rolled layers demarcated with fragrant cinnamon. Soaked with espresso syrup, served hot from the oven, dolloped with frothy, tangy whipped crema and crowned with fresh grated orange rind for a burst of brightness, this one beats them all.

Break of Dawn Restaurant
24291 Avenida De La Carlota #P-4
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
(949) 587-9418
Wed-Sun: 8:00am to 1:00pm

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