The Dough Club

One of the newest editions to New York City’s growing donut shop population is The Dough Club, the city’s first Pon-de-Ring mochi donut shop. Located in Chinatown just off Canal St, the Dough Club specializes in the Japanese style that has been popularized around that country by their local Mr. Donut and uses fresh ingredients to serve up six unique flavors daily.

The shop itself is a small, narrow storefront with bright white paint and marble table on golden legs. It’s a clean, inviting space with a neon sign near the counter that reads “rollin in the dough” in brilliant pink. The donuts themselves are soft, light, and fluffy and the mochi gives them a nice, subtle chew. They’re also stunning to look at and like their sistershop next door, Taiyaki, these are some truly Instagramable donuts, but while they dominate in appearance, they lack in overall enjoyment. On my visit, I opted for the Purple Pebble, Miso Bacon, and the Cookies and Creme (I split them with a friend). In the pon-de-ring style, these donuts easily rip off into small, munchkin-esque balls that make them easy for sharing. The Purple Pebble had a nice sweetness and the added Fruity Pebble cereal gave it a solid crunch. The Miso Bacon really had a heavy smoked-meat flavor and not much sweetness as at all, a real savory treat that wasn’t my personal favorite. The Cookies and Creme was the most straight-forward of them all, the cookie adding some nice new texture to the dough’s light chew and overall was the most promising in flavor.

It’s nice to have a new style in town and not a rehash of the craft vs classic or cake vs yeast that exist in so many other shops.

Scores:
Miso Bacon: 5/10
Purple Pebble: 6/10
Cookies and Creme: 6/10

Donut Papi (Sydney, AUS)

For many, traveling is an incredible opportunity to see new parts of the world. You can explore cities, the museums, beaches, parks, and immerse yourself in the culture. For some, it’s also an opportunity to try the local cuisine and in my case, that means donuts. Last winter, I took some time off of work and ventured throughout the Eastern Hemisphere in search of donuts and records. The first stop along my journey was to Sydney Australia where I discovered Donut Papi, homemade donuts with classic and original flavors. Their shop is a quant little spot located on a not too busy corner in Redfern. A small glass case has the daily offerings and a few tables allow for a quick stop to munch down on these light and flakey treats. When I popped by the shop, I indulged in a Maple Bacon and Chocolate Hazelnut and I still stand by my claim that they’re some of the best I’ve ever had.

Last week, Donut Papi appeared on my Instagram promoting a tour through New York where they were tasting the best my city has to offer. Naturally, I reached out to Kenneth to get his take on his trip to NYC and the story behind Donut Papi.

How did Donut Papi get started? What’s the story?
I started Donut Papi in 2015 as a hobby and started selling them to my colleagues and eventually got into markets and food festivals. My siblings always helps me, but my sister is very supportive and dedicated on helping me and eventually asked her if she wanted to be my business partner. From outgrowing our home kitchen, we found a commercial shared kitchen and worked there for almost two years and as we got busy with the markets, the kitchen got busier too and we found ourselves looking for a kitchen of our own. We decided to open a shop front as well with it and we are very happy with our decision. 

How long has the store been around?
Going three years this October!

Why did you come to New York? What inspired your trip?
Before I started the shop, I follow bakeries and doughnut shops with strong social media presence, products and branding for inspirations. Most of them are in New York and I always wanted to check out if there are any difference with Sydney donuts to New York ones. 

What were the stops and donuts you tried while you were here? What were your favorites?
Our donut stops are:
– Dough
– Doughnut Plant
– Doughnut Project
– Donut Pub
– Dun-Well Doughnuts
– Du’s Donuts
– Peter Pan’s Pastry and Donuts
– Alimama (mochi donuts)
– The Dough Club (mochi donuts)
– Doughnuttery

Non-donut shops but with donut specialities:
– Daily Provisions (cruller)
– Supermoon Bakehouse

My top favourites are:
– Daily provisions’ cruller
– Dough: Hibiscus and Apple Cider cake donut
– Supermoon Bakehouse: Honey and Lavender donut
– Dun-Well Donuts: Lemon and Rosemary glaze

How did you like New York vs Sydney?
New York is a very busy city and very much alive. Sydney’s city life is different. We are surrounded by these beautiful beaches and if the weather is great, most likely you would find more people there than in the city. On the other hand, New York’s offering is very broad and seems like it won’t be enough time to explore everything (and it’s never enough!) I love NY’s Art, food, music scene and would love to live there one day! That would be the goal.

If you find yourself in Sydney, don’t miss out!

MAD Donuts: Frosty Flakes and Maple Bacon

As Jason mentioned back in November, MAD Donuts is a hot new spot in Westchester Mall serving up some of the best donuts in the tri-state area outside of the five boroughs and like many other places, with a new year and season comes their new menu.

This weekend, I made the trip out of the city and went to visit Jason in Westchester so we could try out some of the new items on the menu. Funnily enough, despite our love and constant conversation over the sweet treats, it’s not often we’re actually eating donuts together. I went for the Frosty Flakes and Maple Bacon and Jason went with the classic Cinnamon Sugar and Apple Fritter. While Jason’s were truly delectable and the Apple Fritter does indeed live up to the hype, the Frosty Flakes was my highlight of the day. These are yeast donuts so they’re quite large in size and powerful in flavor. The texture is pretty think for yeast and not so light and fluffy, but that is not a problem. The icing was the standout for me on this guy. Instead of a basic sugary vanilla coating with Frosted Flakes cereal on top, the brains at MAD Donuts made a cereal milk icing which really elevates the flavor and makes it just sweet enough and gives an incredible balance to the crunchy pieces of cereal.

The Maple Bacon is another great gem on their menu, albeit a bit more inline with others you can find around the area. The sweet maple is quite generously poured over the donut and the tiny bacon bits add just the right amount of chewy texture without it becoming the main focus. The icing was like a sheet and broke off in chunks which made getting all the flavors in one bit a slight challenge, but a rewarding one at that.

Frosty Flakes: 9/10
Maple Bacon: 8/10

Doughnut Project: Manhattan Cream

As I mentioned in my recent post, growing up in Massachusetts meant I was a Dunkin’ Donuts loyalist and my donut of choice was (and still is when I return to the suburbs) a Boston Creme. Lucky for me, New York City’s Doughnut Project has updated their daily menu in 2020 to include their take on the classic, the lovely Manhattan Cream.

First thing to note about this donut, aside from the name, nothing here differs from the classic. The Doughnut Project (TDP) specializes in wonderful yeast creations with fresh, flakey pastries and delectable flavors that truly enhance their donuts and take them to another level. Often known for their extreme collaborations, TDP doesn’t shy away from radical ideas, but often succeed with their standard daily menu which is their own unique, but subtle twists on classics. For the Manhattan Cream, they do a simple yeast donut covered in chocolate ganache and a vanilla custard filling. Everything about this donut felt perfect to me. The dough itself was insanely fresh and perfectly chewy, the chocolate never melted on to my fingers and was impeccably sweet, but not overpowering, and the custard was phenomenal. The vanilla was vibrant and gooey, but not overstuffed.

Also, unlike some of the other yeast varieties around the city, this one is not massive in size so eating one (especially with the filling) doesn’t feel like such an undertaking. As one of a few new options, this truly feels like a worthy addition to their expanding daily offerings.

Score: 10/10

Tradition over quality (part 2)

Growing up in Massachusetts, Dunkin’ Donuts was vital to my childhood. I have many memories of waking up in the morning to find that my dad had gone out for coffee and brought donuts back home as well. Usually, it was a Boston Creme for me (my now standard suburban order). Now with all due respect to my roots, Dunkin is not high caliber donuts, but rather something that will do in a pinch. My memories around these donuts aren’t really for their awesome flavors, but the traditions that came with them.

In one of our first posts, Jason talked about tradition over quality when enjoying our favorite treats. Like many others, I travelled to visit family for the holidays and was reminded of this thought once again. Being back in Massachusetts always brings back old memories and the times of my youth and this was reinforced this holiday season. As in the past, I awoke one morning to find that my dad had gone to The Donut Shack in Lowell, MA and returned home with a giant white paper bag full of homemade, old fashioned donuts. Yes, a Boston Creme was included. These yeast donuts were soft, chewy, and full of texture. The glaze was extra sweet, the filling extra ooz-y, and each one was remarkably fresh.

These are not the fancy, artisanal craft donuts that I usually write about when home in New York, but they have an extra sort of charm that makes them special. As Jason said before, “Are they the best-tasting donuts? Nope! But in this case, it’s not about having the best. It’s about the tradition of being together.”

Doughnut Plant: Gingerdough Man and Christmas Tree

With Fall Flavors officially behind us, I’m a bit late to the game in trying the holiday donuts from around town. Much like Apple Cider dominating autumn, Chocolate Peppermint and Eggnog are common flavors for this time of year. I still plan to round up some of those before the new year, but started off my seasonal adventure with two that were a bit more fun and festive.

For the holidays, Doughnut Plant is in full celebration mode offering up seasonal specials like Gingerdough Men, Christmas Trees, Gingerbread, Coconut Snowman, and Marzipan (in both star and jelly filled varieties). I kept things a bit basic and opted for a Gingerdough Man and a Christmas Tree. Both are larger than the average circular donut and the fun shapes add to the holiday bliss and while I tend to always stick to cake over yeast, for the holidays I made an exception.

The Gingerdough Man was heavy and dense, more so than most yeast donuts, and the sugar coating really packed on the sweetness. The dough itself was extra chewy and the size, density, and texture really made it quite filling. The Christmas Tree was also on the larger size and its bright green glaze really added the festive nature to the enhance the shape. Underneath the minty outer shell (which reminded me of a lovely Andes candy), the yeast donut is filled with a rich chocolate pudding that takes each bite to another level and perfectly achieves the chocolate and mint pairing so one never overpowers the other. Doughnut Plant always excels in the look of their treats, perfectly round with an immaculate shine, each one looks like it could’ve come straight from a display case and not just a shelf behind the counter. These holiday donuts take it up another level so not only is each bite delicious, but just staring at them will put you in the holiday spirit.

Gingerdough Man: 8/10
Christmas Tree: 10/10

Doughboy

Boca Raton’s Doughboy is a sleek donut shop that specializes in gourmet mini cake donuts with extensive flavors. Their shop is small, but sharp and clean. Exposed bricks are covered in white paint which gives the shop a chic look and each of their donuts are made custom to order. The menu is pretty diverse with over fifteen flavors to choose from and you can order in bulk sets with up to 25 donuts in an order. Naturally, I walked in and said “I’ll have one of everything, please.”

The bite-sized treats are soft and chewy and the flavors really pack a punch. Everything ranging from Fruity Pebbles to Nutella filled to bacon with maple frosting, the variety is extreme and allows for the guests to have a wide sample of tastes. Since each order is custom made, the wait can feel a bit extreme (I was lucky enough to be there on a day when there were no other customers, but I can see the wait time getting a bit intense), but the flavors do more than make up for the lag time it takes to complete an order. In addition to some truly wild and bold flavors which are really great, the presentation is also top-notch. Unfortunately, there is no display case so you can only catch a glimpse of your own orders and there is no eye-candy to salivate over while you wait.

While the location feels a bit odd, it’s located in a strip mall, it does feel a bit like a diamond in the ruff and those lucky enough to come across it are in for a real treat. It’s an unsuspecting little shop filled with giant flavor. For me, no vacation is complete without a search for local donuts and Doughboy really hit the spot.

Dun-Well Doughnuts: Apple Pecan

Temperatures may be plunging outside, but Fall flavors are still in full effect on donut shop shelves around the city. Brooklyn’s vegan staple Dun-Well Doughnuts recently had an Apple Pecan on the menu , a bit of a different twist on the autumn standard, but one that still embodied the full tastes of the season.

Despite it feeling more like Winter than Fall these days, this treat from Dun-Well was perfectly balanced and with eyes closed hard enough, it was easy to picture a tree perfectly bursting with color. Dun-Well’s donuts are wonderfully soft, chewy, and just a bit sticky, not at all dense or overpoweringly sweet. For this one, it tasted almost as if you were biting into a real apple, the flavor perfectly spot-on, I almost checked to see if the skin was in the dough. A pure apple taste matched with a perfect pecan crunch, the textures were lovely compliments to one another and the nutty flavor added some new innovation to the mix. A bit late to the game, this was a bit of a surprise, but a pleasant one at that and nice alternative to so many apple cider / cinnamon donuts conquering menus around town.

Score: 8.5/10

Morningstar Donuts

Wylie Dufresne’s Du’s Donuts hosted Houston’s Morningstar Donuts on Saturday for a pop-up event with Texan charm and creativity.

The Houston sensation brought their local flavors and specialties to Brooklyn and treated patrons to creative concoctions that matched the vibes of their hometown with classic donut flavors. Blood Orange White Chocolate, Black and White Mochi, Cinnamon Sugar, Pineapple Chili Lime Fritter, Cheesecake and Candied Almond twist, Olive Oil Lemon with Sea Salt (and a BBQ Brisket Kolaches). The variety was impressive and it was too much to resist walking up to the counter and saying “I’ll have one of everything, please.”

Morningstar mastermind David Buehrer was present behind the counter and chatted away as the donuts were served, giving us the background of his buzzing food empire in Houston and how their wonderful donuts came to be. Taking a lot of inspiration from the Cambodian population in his hometown, Buehrer has built Morningstar into a local favorite and was thrilled to be able to give his already stellar donuts a New York twist. Fusing a classic mochi with a New York black and white cookie, taking the southern flavors of pineapple and chili lime and mixing it with an apple fritter, the pastries were wild and fun, with crazy flavors exploding with each bite. The yeast and textures were remarkably fresh, the glazes perfectly sticky, and the fritter was wonderfully crunchy. For a pop-up, Morningstar did a fantastic job bringing a sample of cake, yeast, mochi, fritter, and old fashioned style to prove their skills can cover all forms of donuts. In fact, for such a diverse range of flavors and styles, the consistency was excellent beyond compare.

Peter Pan: Apple Cider

It’s hard to beat a classic and not only is Peter Pan one of the best classic donut shops in the city, but serving up a Fall classic flavor like Apple Cider is one of the most perfect pairings.

The outer surface is covered in a hard sugary glaze, a perfect protection for the inner deliciousness that is filled with a rich flavor. The dough is soft and chewy, a perfect setting for the delectable taste that comes with every bite. Slightly over-fried, there is a small crunch from the sugary coating giving a nice, contrasting texture to the softness inside which holds the real flavor of the donut. This is about as classic as it gets and for a New Yorker, it can save a trip to a farm stand where you might be able to snag a warm, fresh version one of these guys, but from a city standpoint, it doesn’t get much better than this. Peter Pan isn’t doing this “for the ‘gram” and their donuts aren’t always the most attractive visually, but their imperfections are what make them so wonderful. These are hand crafted and made with love, not churned out via machine in mass quantities and the old-school vibes add a certain something that makes them so special. It’s a perfect glazed donut that unveils itself with each bite, never overpowering and always perfectly subtle.

Score: 9.5/10