Taste of Japan: Guide to Tokyo’s best donuts
Taste of Japan: Guide to Tokyo’s best donuts
Tokyo is renowned for its obscenely cute confections, but the golden rings that won over the West are still on the rise in the world’s most populous city. Krispy Kreme and Mister Donut may have their place and purpose, but they do little to endear the donut to the hearts and minds of Tokyo’s citizens. Let’s take a look at locations in the capital that are reframing and reforming the donut in ingenious ways.
Good Town Doughnuts
Good Town Doughnuts, located just off the serpentine corridor of Cat Street, feels like an old Jewish deli plucked right out of New York City. Busy voices bounce off the tiled floor and get buried in the baked goods that surround you as you enter. Sandwiches, tarts, pies and even pizzas blanket the room with a sense of security and nostalgia. The donuts, however, give Good Town that kiss of current bohemian flare you’d expect from a Harajuku staple. Flavors like hibiscus and blood orange are celebrated as seasonal offerings, and certain classics like the smiley face donut feature a surprising custard flavor: mango! Nearly all of Good Town’s donuts have a vegan doppelgänger as well, meaning these sweet treats can be enjoyed guilt-free.
6-13-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
6 min. walk from Meiji-jingumae ‘Harajuku’ Station
Higuma Doughnuts X Coffee Wrights
Higuma Doughnuts has three locations throughout the city, but it’s their brick-and-mortar collaboration with CoffeeWrights near Omotesando that gets the most foot traffic – and therefore the most buzz. The building, a simple wooden box with a pitched roof, is immediately iconic and effortlessly modern. Inside, contemporary jazz mumbles on in the background while baristas sling espresso tonics, cold brews, and cardamom lemonades perfectly crafted to pair with their hefty fried donuts. Limoncello and honey mascarpone are the flavors en vogue at Higuma, but staples like cinnamon sugar and chocolate-glazed are always standing by if you’re in the mood for something familiar. These donuts sell out quickly and a queue is not unusual, so arrive early.
4-9-13 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
4 min. walk from Omotesando Station
LITTLE BEAR MEISTER
LITTLE BEAR MEISTER, which operates out of a tiny van near Shimokitazawa Station, serves impossibly cute bear-shaped donuts with graham cracker bellies. The little teddies are fried to order, so they’re reliably hot, fragrant and downright decadent. While you wait for your donut to be built, feel free to have a coffee with the grizzly leaning out the window. Yes, there’s a full-sized bear sitting in the van’s driver seat! He sniffs customers’ donuts and offers a quick meet and greet to those who want a photo. The whole experience feels like something out of a storybook. The sole critique for this adorable, critter-focused affair is that it’s not open frequently enough. LITTLE BEAR MEISTER only operates on select weekends, so make sure to check their website for an updated schedule.
2-33-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku
5 min. walk from Shimo-Kitazawa Station
Hocus Pocus in Nagatacho has certainly mastered the art of illusion. Step through its doors, and you are suddenly transported to the heart of Los Angeles. All the necessary components for this trick are present: minimalist design, an excess of lush green foliage and a hyper fixation on the artistry of donuts. Housed in glass cases, the donuts at Hocus Pocus feel like exotic animals on display. Flavors like lemon poppyseed-fennel and blueberry-praline-dill wrestle for your attention, with each ring more fabulously decorated than the next. The wild flavor combinations never fail to impress, and the donuts themselves are fantastically fluffy. The concept of elevating donuts from pedestrian fare to principal roles in a posh cafe risks creating expectations that are simply too great to achieve, but Hocus Pocus rises to the high bar it sets. The result is spellbinding.
2-5-3 Hirakawacho, Chiyoda-ku
6 min. walk from Nagatacho Station
I’m Donut ?
I’m donut ? is probably the greatest name for a donut shop on the planet. It’s strange, it’s whimsical, it’s philosophical. Questions abound: Is it a donut? Does that matter? After waiting in a 50-minute queue to taste said donut, does anything matter? Simply put: yes. This IS a donut and you need it in your life. I’m donut ? has several locations throughout the city, all of which offer the same thing: fried brioche donuts infused with pumpkin, and pumped with a variety of custards and toppings. While wacky flavors abound, it’s the magic of the classic custard donut here that stands to soften even the most jaded heart. It’s a vintage donut, a perfect donut. Crispy, fluffy, and just sweet enough. I’m donut ? can cut the question mark. It’s arguably the best donut in Tokyo.
1-22-10 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku
1 min. walk from Naka-meguro Station
DUMBO Doughnuts and Coffee
DUMBO is infatuated with the borough of Brooklyn. Its shops are embellished with imagery from Brooklyn’s subway system, the name itself is taken from the city’s most famous neighborhood, and the donuts are very much American in style—and also conspicuously American-sized. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a larger donut anywhere in the Kanto region. DUMBO has four shops throughout Tokyo and Yokohama, and they all serve colossal treats topped with outrageously fun flavors. Marshmallow, toasted coconut, cheesecake and Earl Grey are just a few flavors that DUMBO wickedly flaunts to customers, daring them to consume an entire inflated ring in just one sitting. Beyond the donuts, DUMBO’s coffee is supplied by ARABICA Kyoto, one of Japan’s premier boutique coffee roasters. Even without an enormous appetite, it’s well worth the trip for a good cup of joe.
2-17-6 Azabujuban, Minato-ku
5 min. walk from Azabujuban Station
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