Located in Santa Monica, CA, the family owned DK’s Donuts and Bakery has been serving donut based dishes, sandwiches, and drinks to Californians since 1981. Amid asphalt and a rundown parking lot, DK’s chirpy pink signs and windows alerted me that I had arrived, even before I pulled into the lot. From the outside, the shop outshined the lonely 7/11 by its side and screamed "sugar" to passersby, hinting at all the goodies in store.

coffee, beer, tea
Kenalyn Ang

The First Encounter

The donut shop itself was smaller than I had imagined, but jam packed with food. The display cases were stocked with lines of colourful donuts, boasting a variety of flavours and toppings. Purple, red, pink, white and tan, the donuts were sprinkled with bacon, sprinkles, breadcrumbs, M&M candies, Oreos, and more. Everything looked delicious and fresh. I scanned the list above to see what exactly these dashing donuts might consist of. Per the menu, the shop also serves breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Beverage options included a coffee counter parallel to the donuts, a cold case with juice and milk, and smoothies featuring the usual vanilla and chocolate flavours, as well as ube, green tea and other Asian inspired delights. Overwhelmed with choice, I decided to stick to the donuts and focus on trying a few of them.

The aesthetics of these donuts stood out first. Most appealing was the symmetrical picture laid out before me: how perfectly glazed and composed each donut looked, not to mention the assortment of colours. It served to comprise a very pretty picture. The donuts also looked fresh; which was later confirmed after trying them. Because the place is famous for them, I went with a couple of ube flavoured donuts, then got a sugar donut and a couple of different red velvet donuts (one with icing, one without) to take home. Yet after biting into both the ube and red velvet donuts, I was slightly disappointed with how they tasted.

cookie, candy, pastry, cake, chocolate, sweet, doughnut
Kenalyn Ang

Donut #1

The social media famous ube donut that I tried (ube dough dipped in a thin layer of icing) was soft and sweet, and of course tasted like a donut, but it did not taste like ube to me. Ube is essentially purple yam, but not to be confused with taro. The plant is typically made in dessert dishes in Asia, South America, and Australia. As a kid I was exposed to ube flavoured treats such as ice cream, puto (a type of Philippino steamed rice cake), cake, and more. I was a little disappointed after I’d eaten through the entire donut and realised I wouldn’t be left with a hint of ube, not even an ube aftertaste. So, I moved onto a red velvet donut, this time with the white icing I’d assumed to be cream cheese flavoured, and red velvet crumb cakes sprinkled on top.

coffee, pastry, tea, sweet, cake, doughnut, chocolate
Kenalyn Ang

Donut #2

Again, I was disappointed in discovering that the donut did not have that tangy cream cheese taste characteristic of all things red velvet flavoured. This donut was just as good and fresh tasting as the ube donut, but apart from being red and containing more sugary icing, tasted almost identical to the ube donut I had just (reluctantly) finished. All in all, the two donuts I had just consumed tasted incredibly sugary and nondescript, and in the aftermath, I sat on a bench outside the shop reminiscing about the glazed donuts my friends and I used to get at a local donut shop near my high school.

Thirsty and ridiculously full, I couldn’t believe it. I’d seen a video of the place on Facebook maybe two months before while still in St. Andrews, and after watching how they made the donuts, had greatly anticipated a visit to the bakery this winter break.

pastry, sweet, chocolate, doughnut, cake
Kenalyn Ang

Despite my disappointments with how they tasted, the presentation of each donut reflected the quality and care put into making each batch. Furthermore, stopping by DK’s Donuts and Bakery fulfilled the expectation that I would eat a decent donut, but didn’t quite live up to its reputation for unique flavours. Nonetheless, there’s a reason so much hullabaloo exists around DK’s Donuts and Bakery. Their donuts are cute, tasty and well-priced. So, if you’re looking for a sugar fix or yummy donut, I would recommend this place, just don’t completely expect your donut to have a very specific flavour.  

coffee, beer
Kenalyn Ang