Sunday, January 11, 2009
Crispy Ring Doughnuts
I can't remember when "Crispy Ring" doughnut were introduced in Japan, but I suspect that they came after "Krispy Kreme" opened up its first shop in Tokyo. The first branch opened about two years ago and there are still lines of people waiting to get inside that branch nearly every hour of every day. One can see how businesses may want to capitalize on Krispy Kreme's success by introducing a product with a similar name.
I should note that doughnuts are something that the Japanese bakers do very poorly unless they are doing so through a branch of a foreign doughnut maker. The only places to reliably get good doughnuts are dedicated doughnut shops like Mister Donut, Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme or New York Donut. It's almost impossible to get a good doughnut at the average Japanese bakery (though they have great bread) or at a market. Such doughnuts are usually either way too bread-like, too cake-like, too dry, or just plain freaky in some fashion. Any doughnut you buy in a plastic package with a tray is to be regarded with suspicion.
The Crispy Ring doughnuts appear to be aping the classic Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut both in shape and with the amount of glaze. The size of the doughnut though is much smaller than a conventional one. Each doughnut is about 110 calories and there are 4 to a pack so I'm guessing it'd take two of these to equal the volume of a Krispy Kreme ring.
When you open the package, you smell a good doughnut smell with the distinctive sweetness you associate with glazed doughnuts . This is actually a very rare experience for a packaged doughnut in Japan. The doughnuts are a little dry, but they don't have the tendency to make your mouth feel like the Sahara as most dry doughnut do. They are quite light, but not as airy as a Krispy Kreme glazed. The glaze on these is actually good, though not as heavily sweet as what you get from a doughnut shop's fresh doughnut .
These are surprisingly good for what they are, though I'm betting the average packaged doughnut in a Western country would beat them by a country mile. In Japan though, you have to modify your expectations. That's my way of saying doughnut beggars can't be too choosy. If you're in the mood for a doughnut and not near a real doughnut shop, these would definitely be a reasonable choice to accompany your coffee. They don't compare to a good fresh doughnut, but they have the benefit of being only 99 yen (about a dollar) for 4 small ones. They also have better shelf stability so you can buy one package, have two for breakfast and save two for the next day with little drop in quality.