Ask Mr. Gold: In Search of the Doughnut-qua-doughnut
Dear Mr. Gold:
Anne Fishbein Mr. Gold, with dim sum menu
My brother wants to open a doughnut shop that makes the best donut in Los Angeles. I believe he has the passion and skill to do it. In the process of research he has been seeking the best donut in Los Angeles and I can't say he's found it. Do you know where it is? Do you know where this elusive creature is located? I want a doughnut that's like a Buddhist: present. Do you think Los Angeles has a best doughnut? Interested to know what you think.
I like the idea of a Buddhist doughnut, a doughnut-qua-doughnut, the doughnut that knows itself, the hole at the center of the world. And while Los Angeles has any number of compelling doughnut like objects - the kolache, the churro, the picaron - none of those is what you seek. As buzzed as I still am from the yu tiao, Chinese cruller, I had with my soy milk at a new Taiwanese breakfast place on Las Tunas the other day, I believe I know what you mean.
Some would send you to the venerable Donut Man in Glendora, whose fresh strawberry and fresh peach doughnuts in season are as good as doughnuts get, and whose crullers and tiger tails even now are worth whatever carbon imprint the trip to acquire them may require. The baroque concoctions at Stan's Doughnuts in Westwood have their admirers, as do the custard-filled doughnuts at the Donut Factory in Van Nuys. I have been known to dream about the warm crumb doughnuts at Primo's in West L.A., also about a box of Krispy Kremes from the store in Brea.
But the essential doughnut may have been expressed by Jennifer Rubell's "Donut Wall'' installation at Fallen Fruit's Let Them Eat LACMA show, a long wall hung with a grid of more than 1500 cake doughnuts, which disappeared one by one as museumgoers discovered that it was okay to eat them. It would have been cool to see a stop-motion film of the sculpture: the doughnuts within reach of toddlers vanishing first; the medium-height ones going more slowly; the random geometric patterns that emerged. The doughnuts were pretty good, but Rubell apparently sourced them from the chain Yum Yum's. How much better would the sculpture have been if she had managed to score her doughnuts from Bob's Doughnuts in the Farmers Market, where the plain, perfect cake doughnuts may indeed invoke the sound of one hand clapping.