"You can't miss the giant donut!" That's what the service station attendant told us - in a heavy Southern drawl - when we'd asked for directions to Randy's Donuts. It was after midnight and our GPS had failed us, but even we had to laugh when the enormous donut loomed out of the darkness as we approached. It was huge!
Even before we'd left for our USA trip, Suze was already calling this a donut tour. We ended up eating at three donut places in Los Angeles, each said to offer the offer the best donuts in LA.
Everyone ends up at Randy's Donuts - because really, who can resist a giant donut? It's also conveniently located right by LAX airport, which is how we ended up making a second visit for better photos during daylight hours. It was also an excuse to eat more donuts. Ha.
Glazed donuts, twists, long johns and cinnamon rolls
Randy's Donuts is perched right on the corner in a large parking lot. There's a fried chicken shop in the same parking lot (empty both times we went past) but there's a constant queue at Randy's, even though the shop trades 24/7.
The donuts are plentiful and cheap, with about 20 different kinds to choose from, starting at 75 cents.
Sugar raised donuts and long johns
On our first visit in the dead of night we feasted on long johns filled with cream, buttermilk donuts, glazed donuts and a bear claw filled with a surprise of chunky apple pieces.
Chocolate raised donut US$0.80 and cinnamon roll US$1.10
On our second visit I had the chocolate raised donut, remarkably light and fluffy with a rich chocolate icing, and a cinnamon roll (what we call a cinnamon scroll) that was soft and sweet with a thin layer of glaze.
Drive thru donuts
And you don't have to get out of your car either - there's even a drive through window for the ultimate in donut laziness.
Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts
Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts is another institution, founded in 1947 and churning out donuts ever since. You'll find it at the LA Farmers Market in Mid City West. Although it originally started as a farmers market with farmers selling direct to the public, these days it's more like a food village, with permanent restaurants and food stalls amid butchers, fishmongers, fruit shops and gourmet cheese stores.
Cinnamon rolls, raised donuts, apple fritters and New Orleans beignets
In America, coffee and donuts go together like peas and carrots, and there's a neverending line at Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts. People pick up coffee, iced tea and Arnold Palmers (a mix of iced tea and old fashioned lemonade) and a paper bag of donuts too.
Raised donuts out of the fryer
If you head down the side of the shop, you can sneak a look at the deep fryer. You can also usually spy the onsite baker rolling and shaping donuts down the back.
Bear claws, Nutella donuts, danishes and dinosaur and cat donuts
There's plenty of lurid coloured icing and wacky donut shapes to suit kids of all ages.
Cinnamon roll US$1.45, cream-filled long john US$1.40,
powdered sugar cake donut US$1.10 and an Arnold Palmer US$1.75
I stuck with two of their famed specialties: the powdered sugar cake donut and the cinnamon roll. Suze got the cream-filled long john. An Arnold Palmer helped all the sugar go down.
The famous cinnamon roll
The cake donut was soft but quite dense in texture but we were hypnotically drawn to the cinnamon roll. This photo doesn't really convey its size effectively, but let me assure you it must have been about 20cm across! Pillowy soft, it peeled away like a dream, coiled up with a generous layer of cinnamon sugar and topped with a thin shell of glaze.
The Donut Man
Can you see Suze's grin? I'd been trailing behind Lex and Suze and watched them turn the corner, suddenly stop, eyes widen and then break out into the biggest grin.
Devils food chocolate cake dipped in chocolate frosting with sprinkles $US0.90
Could donuts really be that exciting? I chortled to myself, walked towards them, turned around the corner, and did exactly the same.
Because that's what you do when it's 3am and you suddenly come face to face with six shelves laden with over 400 donuts.
Raspberry jam and cream donut $US1.50
Although you can't tell from the logo, the Donut Man is actually Jim Nakano, a third generation Japanese American who started selling donuts with his wife, Miyoko, in 1972. Customers started calling him the Donut Man and the name has stuck ever since.
Chocolate frosted donut with peanuts $US0.95
There's a dizzying array of donuts, all neatly lined up on display. It's hard not to take photos of each and every one of them. Ok, maybe I did.
Apples stuffed in a cinnamon crumb donuts $US1.50
Glazed donut with sprinkles $US0.90
Sugar dusted raised donuts $US0.90
Glazed French crullers $US0.95
Fresh strawberry filled donut $US3.25
The most famous specialty here is the fresh strawberry filled donut, only available when strawberries are in season. It's a plain sugar round donut stuffed with a mountain of fresh strawberries and brushed with glaze. You're given a fork to eat it with, but Nakano apparently recommends you eat it with your hands, just like a burger.
There's so much fruit in this baby it's practically good for you, right?
[clockwise from bottom left] Maple bar donut $US1.35,
chocolate frosted old fashioned donut US$0.95,
maple frosted raised bar $US1.35, tigertail $US1.60;
and raspberry jam and cream donut US$1.50
Suze is like a kid in a candy store, ok, a donut store.
Tiger Tail donut $US1.60
The tiger tail is the highlight of the night. Yeasted donut dough is twisted with chocolate paste, deep-fried and then coated in a sugar glaze. Ours is fresh from the fryer so it's still warm. It's unbelievably addictive, with its supreme fluffiness contrasted with the crisp glaze and chocolate paste. We scoff down one and Suze immediately orders another.
3am donut crowd
We love that the Donut Man is open 24/7 and that there are plenty of other night owls in need of a 3am donut fix.
Three of the walls to the shop are windowed, giving you a clear view of all the donut-making action. We pressed our noses up against the glass and stared, transfixed, like homeless urchins.
Chocolate glazed raised donuts
Preparing to fry the tiger tails
Watching the deep fryer was impressive too, with the donuts laid onto a wire tray which is then submerged by pushing down another wire rack on top.
Tiger tails fresh from the fryer
Arranging the tiger tails for glazing
The best part was watching the donuts being glazed...
Who isn't thinking about standing underneath that icing waterfall right about now?
Delicious sweet sugar
Oh delicious donuts of LA, we miss you already.
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The Donut Man
915 E Route 66, Glendora, Los Angeles, California, USA
Tel: +1 (626) 335 9111
Open 24 hours 7 days a week
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Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts
LA Farmers Market
6333 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, California, USA
Corner of Third and Fairfax
Tel: +1 (323) 933 8929
Monday to Saturday 6am-9pm
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805 West Manchester Avenue, Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, USA
Tel: +1 (310) 645 4707
Open 24 hours 7 days a week
>> Read the next USA 2013 post: Animal Restaurant, Los Angeles
<< Read the first USA 2013 post: Cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC
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7/14/2013 03:45:00 a.m.