Donuts, donuts, donuts: Where to get them in Chengdu
The availability—or lack thereof—of donuts is a recurring topic among the North American expat set in Chengdu. I'd like to tell you with the opening of the bright, shiny, and inviting Lozzi Donuts that real donuts (you know, like the ones pictured here, here, or here) are finally available in Chengdu, but the fact is, they just aren't.
While more and more donut shops are popping up around town, sadly, none of them are really the same as donuts from Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' Donuts, Yum Yum, Winchell's or even the no-name pink-box donuts or Tim Hortons. Disclaimer: GoChengdoo takes no responsibility for any drool that might appear on your keyboard as a result of your clicking on any of the above links.
You can smell these donuts a mile down the street. You might even forget for a moment you're still in Chengdu. And the donuts sure look pretty and come in dozens of varieties, from the ordinary to the bizarre—seaweed topping anyone? But once you bite into one of their donuts, you find that they're much too soft and fluffy, and the icing is drippy. Total tease. On the plus side, Lozzi itself is spacious with comfortable seating and a constant stream of western pop videos on flat-screen TVs. Another score: decent fresh-brewed coffee selections priced RMB8 and up plus juices and shakes.
Lozzi Donuts RMB5.5 per donut; quantity discounts available
Dippin' Donuts (haha) has mini-donuts, and they taste as good as, if not better than, Lozzi's (the key is in the icing). All that while costing less. On the flipside, Dippin' doesn't do drinks and has virtually no seating. Like Lozzi's donuts, Dippin's' are totally authentic in flavor, but eerily completely wrong in texture.
Dippin' Donuts is in the alley market that's just opened up behind the Zhengxi Building (with a Suning on the ground floor), also opposite Champagne Plaza. RMB4 for a full-sized donut; RMB2.5 for a mini; quantity discounts available
Of the donuts listed here, Q's Coffee (aka the Isetan bakery)'s are probably the best. Unfortunately, they offer only three varieties: plain, red bean, and custard—and again, all are too light and squishy to really be called donuts. Q's Coffee offers the only donut with good custard, but all of the (three) varieties have waaaaaayyyyy too much sugar coating on them, even for us sugar-junkie-types. That's a scary thought.
Q's Coffee is in the basement of Isetan, and there's a new location in Tongzilin. RMB5 per donut
Dicos' offering is no better, and they only have two types: plain and the new baby-toy-shaped chocolate variety. The only real advantage Dicos has over the others listed above is that if you really have to have a donut then and there, you're likely to find a Dicos within a few blocks of wherever you are. Also, sometimes Dicos offers meal deals, such as the current National Day RMB9 special so in case your arteries are feeling a little too clean to celebrate ol' China's 60th, you can have your donut with a hunk of deep-fried chicken and a soda.
Dicos are all over China. RMB5.5 for the chocolate donuts
Besides these, you may come across donut-shaped objects, sometimes even bearing the label 'donut,' in various bakeries around town (Gigi and Free Mori, and Bread & Ice, to name a few), but most of these are wrong in both flavor and texture. Oh well. At least we know how to say "donut" in Chinese now: 多拿滋 (duōnázī) or 甜甜圈 (tiántiánjuān).
Final analysis: To be clear, none of the aforementioned "donuts" are bad; if you're just looking to satisfy your sweet-tooth you can't go wrong. But if it's a taste of "home" you're after, the closest place might be Bangkok where Dunkin's are practically on every street corner. And btw, forget about cake donuts, I haven't found them anywhere.
But if you have—or you know some other donuts in town—let us know in the comments!