LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KGET) — This week we gazed upon — and devoured — the lovely, scrumptious strawberry doughnut from The Donut Man, possibly the most photographed and raved about doughnut in the state. It lived up to the hype.
While in L.A., we also availed ourselves of pork cutlet sandwiches, curry cheese fries, beef tongue sandwiches and Persian-style ice cream. With the variety the city offers, why not indulge?
Strawberry doughnut, The Donut Man, 317 S. Broadway, also 915 E. Route 66, Glendora
When Jim Nakano entered the doughnut business in the early 1970s, he could have had no idea his little shop in Glendora would become a sensation with its stuffed doughnuts overflowing with fresh fruit, tiger tails and buttermilk bars. The only downside — for travelers, at least — was the location. Glendora was and still is a decent hike from most of the places in the L.A. area that tourists plan to visit. Not that it didn’t stop The Donut Man from drawing crowds, it’s just that those from elsewhere — Bakersfield, for instance — may not want to make the trip down Route 66.
Now we don’t have to. Nakano finally expanded, opening a stall at the bustling Grand Central Market. You can grab a doughnut and eat it at a table outdoors or, better yet, get a dozen to go.
I’ve sampled at least a half-dozen doughnuts from The Donut Man. There isn’t a weak one in the bunch, but the strawberry doughnut is justly famous and worth the six bucks.
The simple glazed doughnut containing the strawberries is delicious in its own right, but combined with the fresh, sweet berries coated in a light gel, each mouthful is deliriously good. If you were to create a Mount Olympus of doughnuts, The Donut Man’s strawberry doughnut would perpetually occupy the role of Zeus. There is none greater.
Pork cutlet sandwich and curry cheese fries, Katsu Sando, 736 N. Broadway
There are dozens of places in the L.A. area serving katsu, deep-fried cutlets of pork or chicken (some shops even fry blocks of cheese) served in sandwiches, covered in curry or with a sweet dipping sauce on the side. Although Japanese in origin, it’s a meal that seemingly satisfies everyone’s palate, large pieces of protein taken from the fryer at just the right moment, leaving the cutlet with a crisp layer of breading while the meat is cooked through yet still juicy. Knowing when something is properly fried is an art form in itself.
What appears to be the newest (it opened last week) brick-and-mortar katsu establishment is Katsu Sando, which is already drawing lines in its Chinatown location. While the interior is small and management currently only allows one customer inside at a time due to safety guidelines, the staff on a recent morning seemed well-prepared to handle the rush a new opening brings, quickly and efficiently filling orders.
The cutlet itself is massive, bursting out of both sides of the white bread holding it together like Brock Lesnar’s neck in a collared shirt. There’s some red cabbage in the sandwich but not much else. Frankly, nothing else is needed as the cutlet is delicious and any other adornment would distract from it.
While the cutlets — there are also shrimp, mushroom and, for you big spenders, an $85 Wagyu beef cutlet to choose from — are the main draw, Katsu Sando also offers rice balls, egg salad sandwiches and waffle-cut fries. I had the fries with a a curry cheese sauce, making the dish extremely rich yet still impossible to stop eating.
Tongue sandwich, kashke bademjan, Attari Sandwich Shop, 1388 Westwood Blvd.
Living in an area with multiple Basque restaurants (we miss you, Noriega), Bakersfield residents have likely come across tongue on a menu at one time or another. Whether they’ve ordered it is another thing, but they’ve at least seen it, and as served at those establishments, sliced thin with lots of vinegar, it could almost pass as a lunch meat.
That’s not the version served at Attari Sandwich Shop, a longtime Iranian spot offering a dozen or so sandwiches, at least as many salads and dips and a variety of kabobs. Sandwiches come on sturdy French bread with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and a bunch of pickles; if you order the tongue prepare yourself for chunks of the meat, some of it quite chewy. It’s not bad, but it takes a little getting used to.
If you like eggplant, you’d be remiss if you left without trying Attari’s kashke bademjan, eggplant roasted and mashed until it is meltingly soft and sprinkled with mint, covered with kashke — a dairy product made from drained yogurt (thank you, Google) — and topped with caramelized onions. The order comes with an ample amount of the thin flatbread called lavash to scoop up the eggplant. The soft richness of the fruit (yes, eggplant is actually a berry) combined with the tartness of the kashke creates a compelling dip.