Doughnuts, the doughy confectionary that is a favourite with Homer Simpson – TV’s most discerning gourmand – is an American staple and calorific snack, which has been received by all sweet-loving creatures of this world with a gusto that surpasses the reception of all other dainties by a magnitude of tenfold. Thanks largely to its addictive nature and seemly economy, in addition to the fact that Thais are awfully fond of products with an inception story from the Land of Liberty, this culinary juggernaut is an institution in Siam on par with, well, nothing really; there is no comparison to its success.
The most revered of all doughnutiers in Bangkok is Krispy Kreme, obviously. It’s practically a trend to be seen carrying the signature green-dots-on-white rectangular boxes from the historic company on the streets of Patumwan. For that reason, the stalls are usually addressed in shopping centers with glamorous reputations, no less. The fried carbs to fill up your take-home paper case are: “Original Glaze” (because of course); “Cookies & Creame” (exquisite vanilla icing, sprinkled with chunks of authentic Hershey’s cookie and cream chocolate); “New York Cheesecake” (yeast-raised cake overflowing with cheesecake filling, varnished with a supreme cream-cheese icing, and crowned with crumbles of graham crackers); “Peanut Butter Kreme” (dark chocolate cake, bedecked with a generous covering of roasted peanuts); “Chocolate Iced Sprinkles” (fun! candy! and chocolate!); “Powdered Strawberry Filled” (differentiating this from your typical powdered variety is its zesty berry filling that evokes expensive European jam); and “Chocoholic Dream” (rich chocolate gateau, thick shaves of chocolate, and powdered with snowy particles).
Dunkin’ Donuts is considered the grande dame of doughnut chains in Thailand; it’s been here since, like, forever. Although it does offer various flavours and stripes, it’s mostly those you would consider as “classics”. And in accordance with tradition, they come in big sizes, huge! In fact. The style of the outlets follows the décor of a pit-stop café, with both dine-in and take-away options available depending on how empty you are inside. By the same token, they habitually occupy prime real-estate in the gargantuan supermarket complexes, like that of Tesco Lotus or Big C. The carbohydrate extravaganzas that veer a little off heritage are: “Charcoal Cherry Cream” (a dark round sponge with chocolate frosting, stuffed with ivory cream that is peek-a-booing from the center, and looking as ripe as a white zit); “Duo Square” (a squarish doughnut, wherein each side of the dessert is injected with a different flavour – strawberry on the left half and blueberry on the other side, for example); and just to be patriotic, do try the original “Chocolate” (a simple ring with the house’s signature chocolate glaze – timeless).
Mister Donut is an equally popular brand, though it differs itself by being more bijou, decorative, and younger then the former; and due to the smaller sizes, it also exudes the appearance of being cheaper than all of the other franchises. The majority of Mister Donut stores takes on the format of a kiosk, and is therefore placed in frequented shopping malls, in eye-catching locations. The offerings are many, and they love a theme; holiday seasons can get particularly rambunctious in terms of consumable decorations. The ones to spend your change from shopping on are: “Honey Dipped” (instead of lacquering it in an ordinary molasses mixture, here, they bathe it in a special honey-infused syrup); “Bavarian Shell” (a soft and chewy bun injected with a Bavarian cream sauce and powdered with fine icing sugar); “Choc Coconut” (a ring of moist chocolate cake covered in nutty coconut shredding); “Holething” (imagine a lollipop doughnut); and “Smidgin Cream-do” (profiterole-like in shape, impregnated with premium chocolate butter, and capped with a layer of white chocolate).
Apart from the recognizable global chains, there is also the option of going niche. The better of the smaller businesses is Daddy Dough. The dainties here are a slight step up from its factory-like contemporaries, and there are only a select few stands in the country. Those that must be tried to be believed are: “Cappuccino” (a coffee-flavoured dough that is painted on top with a white chocolate hardened-sauce, and decorated with a pinch of cappuccino talc); “White Choc Coconut” (a vanilla ring glossed with white chocolate, and bestrewn with wisps of fine coconut); “Blueberry Iced” (the kitchen’s signature pastry with a va-va-voom purplish façade); and “Peanut Macchiato” (their classic batter is burnished with a mocha paste, and sprinkled with smoky shards of peanuts).
To get a taste of “home-made” head over to Sublime Doughnuts. With an original store in Atlanta, USA, the only other two franchises from this cult-favourite name are located in Bangkok – exclusive indeed. You cannot go wrong with any of them, and the following are particularly fabulous: “Pink Lemonade Icing N Lemon Curd” (you can actually descry actual strawberries in the comestible cement, and the dollop of lemon curd brimming out of its center is super zesty and compliments the sweetness of the red berry to perfection); “Apple Butter N Peanut Glaze” (think of an apple pie sandwich with a coat of peanut butter varnish – mmm); “Snowing On The Forest Doughnut” (green tea cookie crumbs on a star shaped dough, and sprinkled with a dusting of icing sugar); “Creme Brulee Doughnut” (now here’s an American-French fusion done right! A round original pastry filled with cream custard inside, then torched sugar on top in accord with the original Gallic pudding); and “Nutella Banana Doughnut” (think flat cupcake; a generous amount of Nutella spread on a super yummy dough, topped with granola munchies and fresh banana slices).
For a touch of Thai, “Pa Thong Ko” is a Siamese classic. Typically sold by vendors on the dusty streets during the evening hours, instead of being dunked in coffee, it is paired with hot soy milk; it is almost impossible not to find one sold without the other. But for those liking their fried flour a bit less plain, it can also be enjoyed with a special dip called “sangkhaya” (a sweet coconut jam that is flavoured and coloured with pandan). Despite not having the kaleidoscopic colours, fantastical appeal, and choice of savour like that of its foreign rococo colleague, this is still a moreish treat to be reckoned with.
If you’re a glutton for doughnuts, and need to have a shop selling these goodies within easy reach in case a hunger attack unexpectedly irrupts, then make sure your hotel is centrally placed in the city, and moreover, aptly located near a BTS or MRT station, like Mercure Bangkok Siam, so that getting to the counters that peddle these rings of delights, is only a few minutes away from satisfying your inner Homer Simpson – dough!