Friday, June 01, 2007
The Donut Man dips it in a dream...
My buddy Jan and I had talked about paying the Donut Man a visit for quite a while. Some food places are blogged about incessantly (hello Pinkberry) and others not so much. You know you've found a gem when those more rare spots get mentioned and they get raves in the the most passionate and exciting language. So we decided to set out first thing Sunday morning for what could possibly be the best donut in Los Angeles.
Donut Man is a one of a kind donut shop that coincidentally is located on historic Route 66. Jim Nakano is the Donut Man, an American-born Japanese man who has run his 24 hour a day donut stand since the 1970s. His background may not interest some eaters, but it is a tale particularly Californian: Nakano was born in the US and spent 3 years in an internment camp during World War 2. The arc from illegally imprisoned youth to successful businessman is -- in itself - a worth celebrating. Yes, Donut Man is a story of the American dream; a Route 66 tale worthy of a John Lasseter sub plot in the film Cars.
Donut stores (and especially the donut / chinese food mashup) are a co0mmon an entry business for immigrants. The food genre is at once basic and universal; it's working class and regular. Thus the genre is rarely innovated. Against that backdrop, the Donut Man, in the outer reaches of Los Angeles county, has revolutionized the donut. His finest is one that in Beverly Hills would command a higher price and would make the 90210 cup cakes cry and shrivel up.
The first thing I noticed was how pornographic this donut is. The seasonal strawberry donut at Donut Man is overwhelmingly seductive. Seriously, click on the image of the strawberry donut and look at the details. The fruit is fresh and firm. The glaze shiny like a Tiffany diamond. There is absolutely no Photoshop in this picture. The starburst effects are nature's way of saying "good morning. your long drive is about to be rewarded!"
The donut itself is sweet but not overbearing. I found the sugar crust on the donut minor compared to some overwhelmingly sugary donuts I have had in the past. The first bite screamed "fresh fruit" -- I could not believe how fresh the fruit in this donut tasted. Most donuts present a fruit taste simply by having some hyper processed gel or goop. But this had farmer's market worthy fresh fruit on a less heavy, less greasy donut. This is the treat that would have kept Krispy Kreame from bankruptcy!
What is it? Well the Donut Man makes 2 fresh fruit donuts a year, depending on the season: strawberry and peach. The strawberry donut has nearly an entire basket of big strawberries in it! The peach donut, supposedly, has nearly an entire peach between the donut. Peach season, I was told by a friendly young woman who works there, starts in late July or early August. Now you know next when to find me at Donut Man!
As I edit this I am eating another seasonal donut at home many hours later. And while still good, is hardly as rock star as it was this morning. Diminishing returns and all. But it is still better than most treats I've had... even hours and hours later. Clearly there is no substitute for traveling to Glendora and eating a Donut Man breakfast there. In fact, when I was halfway through my first seasonal strawberry a group of hungry eaters rolled in the the parking lot. One woman in the group laughed at my eager chomping and (not knowing we drove 20+ miles to get there) asked "couldn't wait to get home?" Oh there is "no waiting to get home" in eating at Donut Man.
I've been intrigued by the concept of obsession. The pursuit, the chase -- the drive to Glendora!! -- is not defined as the means to an end -- but the pursuit is the purpose. Donuts are a dime a dozen and are often closer than miles and miles away. But few are as artisan-al, are as drive worthy, as Donut Man. Simply put, Donut Man makes the Tiffany Diamond of donuts.
Donut Man does make other donuts. This is the lemon one.
This is the chocolate with coconut sprinkles.
this is the bavarian cream. amazing. no shortage of cream filling!
This is the nifty box.
This is all that is left.
915 E. Route 66
Glendora, California 91741
Open 24 hours
Photo credit of Jim: Carol Williams
Posted by JT Griffith at 3:52 PM