Thursday, January 10, 2008

Myeong-dong Donut Wars

Visitors to this Blog, might recall my commentary on Seoul's Coffee Wars--rivalry between Starbucks, Coffee Bean and a number of competitors. Myeong-dong, one of Seoul's top shopping districts, hosts a growing number of doughnut shops. For example, Krispy Kreme has a very impressive multi-story location.

This Korean Herald article describes Myeong-dong's top rivals.

The chilly season makes people long for warm hot chocolate and coffee, but what is a cup of coffee without a doughnut? Myeong-dong, located in central Seoul, offers four different places at which one can enjoy these round delicacies. These four distinctive doughnut places offer slightly different flavors allowing customers to pick and choose their personal favorites.

Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin Donuts, launched in Korea in 1994, has become well known for their slogan ``Coffee and Donut.'' They accustomed Koreans to having doughnuts with coffee. Dunkin Donuts has around 490 doughnut shops nationwide, which is the largest number among other doughnut making companies.

Now, this leading doughnut maker is trying to cater to those who care about what they eat.

Both Glutinous Rice Dream (1,300 won) and 12 Grain Roll (1,000 won) are made of healthy grains including sesame, rye, brown rice, black bean and more. Glutinous Rice Dream also comes in a black rice version (1,400 won) to meet the needs of doughnut lovers who want various flavors. The savory 12 Grain Latte is a perfect match for these healthier alternatives.

Munchkins (200 won), or the doughnut holes, are perfect bite-sized treats. Some of them are filled with Bavarian cream and strawberry jam while others are coated with coconut or dipped in sugar glaze.

Krispy Kreme

With its trademark Original Glazed doughnuts, Krispy Kreme was the first to create the national doughnut buzz in Korea in 2004. Some may think that the beloved Original Glazed is the only doughnut choice they offer, however, Krispy Kreme not only offers different varieties, but customers can also find special doughnuts made just for the chilly season.

The Original Glazed doughnut is soft and fluffy, and with the first bite comes the sweet melt-in-your-mouth experience. The soft sugar glazed coating offers just the right amount of sweetness and a slightly crispy texture that will indeed satisfy those who have a sweet tooth.

The special ``Snow White'' and ``Man in Black'' doughnuts are shaped like little snowmen, each filled with chocolate and custard cream.

Don't forget to stop by whenever you see the red ``Hot Now!'' neon sign light up, this means the doughnuts are being served fresh and hot, right out of the oven. Prices range from 1,000 won to 2,000 won.

Mister Donut

If you are looking for a completely new type of doughnut, Mister Donut might just be the perfect place. Unlike other places where doughnuts are moist, soft, and sweet, Mister Donut offers the ``fourth element in taste.''

Their signature doughnut is the ``Pon De'' series. These delicacies are famed for their chewy texture, due to their gluten-based dough. Many bakeries and doughnut places have tried implementing the chewy factor in their doughnuts, just like ``ddeok'' or Korean traditional rice cakes.

However, Mister Donut's ``Pon De'' doughnuts are not only chewy but also very soft and delicate. With their cute shapes, people can also choose from 10 different flavors: Green tea, Strawberry, Honey, Black Sugar, Almond, Red bean, Chocolate and more. Prices range from 1,200 won to 1,500 won.

Doughnut Plant New York City

Doughnut Plant New York City, which opened last November, is the newest doughnut place in Myeong-dong. This doughnut ``plant'' provides more luxurious doughnuts, using only organic ingredients.

Their choices of flavors include Valrhona Chocolate (2,500 won) and Green Tea and Green Tea Cream (3,200 won), which are popular. Both are about the size of a CD, so it is more like a meal than snack. Doughnut Plant uses 100% cacao chocolate from renowned French chocolate company Valrhona to make its Valrhona Chocolate doughnut. It is not too sweet but rich in chocolate flavor. Green Tea and Green Tea Cream is a cream-filled square-shaped doughnut. More flavors such as Vanilla Beans, Citron and White Sesame are available.

Doughnut Plant offers cake doughnuts as well. Cake doughnuts taste like soft cupcakes and are served in flavors such as Cinnamon Sugar and Raspberry Chocolate.

The Myeong-dong shop is the only one in Korea.

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