THROWBACK THURSDAY: Break of Dawn gets RAW, again; looks ahead to Filipino pop-up


This Saturday, July 16, Chef Dee Nguyen of Laguna Hills’ Break of Dawn will unveil his latest pop-up themed “Pinoy Summer,” a journey through Filipino cuisine. While I’m sad I’ll miss Saturday’s event, I did have the pleasure of dining in late May at his “RAW 2” dinner, a second stab at a concept he masterminded last year with Daniel Doki Kim, now of Sushi Roku.

No menu or descriptions of the dishes were provided. For the many prix-fixe meals I’ve been to, I definitely enjoy this element of surprise. It’s something Grits Fullerton Chef Cody Storts pulled off well with his recent “Blood & Guts” dinner with Noble Ale Works, and I hope the trend of mystery dinners continues to grow. (Speaking of which, did anyone else grab a ticket to Foodbeast Chef Linh Nguyen’s “Wu-Tang” pop-up at Mesa in August? Talk about ‘Raaaaawwwww.’)


Dee’s dinner felt like a summation of everything he’s done since the first RAW, from a trip through South America to foraging the hills and beaches of Orange County. As cliche as it sounds to say he gets better every time, he really does—creating a style of Asian-influenced global cuisine like nobody else in O.C.

He did post the dishes on Facebook after the event, so everything is accurate to what we ate, though some of the ingredients were things I couldn’t have imagined because I’d never heard of or eaten them before. Keep reading for pictures of each course (and a few surprise guests!) …

ikura/fish sauce/wild mint/palm sugar/peanut


Canadian Albacore Belly
sour grape/buttermilk/tomato molasses/parsley


Fanny Bay Oyster
corn/cucumber/aji amarillo/pineapple/ngo om


Hokkaido Uni
potato “noodles”/shaved foie/passion fruit/ice plant/tarragon


Washington State Geoduck
cod milt veloute/saffron/beach banana/ocean salad


Georges Bank Scallop
dorset/wild radish/coriander/burnt tomatillos dashi


Featuring Guest Dishwasher/Top Chef Finalist Amar Santana, who came to Dee’s rescue after he said on Facebook that he needed some backup on dishes (he had one by the time dinner started). Pretty sure Amar didn’t wash anything, but he did get down in the kitchen.

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Monkfish Liver
crab/celery gelee/onion/sea rocket/kelp crisp


Local Sardine
glasswort/tapioca/lemongrass curry/fennel/cashew


Izu Peninsula Striped Jack
lemon confit/ feta crisp/olive/sour cherry/oregano


Angus Prime Beef
hibiki carrot/cured yolk/avocado/nasturtium vinegar/rice puff


Maple Leaf Farms Duck Few Ways
torched raw duck/ume bbq/cabbage/wild cress/skin
duck jam/glutinous millet
fermented bamboo consomme




Peach and cream
gougere/candied pork/prickly ash pepper


apricot/white sage/pistaschio/bee pollen


Crème Brulee
date/coffee/okinawa sugar/piyashi pepper/jowl


The crew came out to celebrate as the dinner came to an end …



… and Dee had his own RAW pop-up when South Coast’s Sushi Master James Hamamori presented his friend with some goodies of his own to enjoy! Kanpai!!

Break of Dawn
24291 Avenida de la Carlota, Suite P4
Laguna Hills, CA 92653