One of my favorite things to do when I visit a different country (or any different place, really) is to try the local food. Also, when home, I tend to not really go to chain establishments all that much, never mind fast food “restaurants.” But all that went out the window when I began peeking into Dunkin’ Donut shops in South Korea. Sure there are some of the same donuts that you would see in the US – glazed, chocolate frosted, jelly – but then there are others: red velvet, tiramisu, blueberry cookie, and even onion potato Munchkins (sort of sweet yet still onion-y). Admittedly I have not been in an American Dunkin Donuts in a while (though I did frequent a few Tim Horton’s when I was visiting Kelowna, BC, though not when I lived in Toronto for over three months), so some of those flavors may exist in the US. I am pretty sure that the onion potato is all Korea though. I’ve heard there were kimchi donuts at one point, but I haven’t seen those. Not sure if I would be brave enough to try one, either.
Another thing that was different was the way they fill the donuts. Again, they might do this in the US now, but I have never seen it. I bought a filled chocolate orange (pronounced or-on-gee in Konglish) donut the other day and before I bit into it I wondered: Is the filling going to be orange jelly? Orange cream? Chocolate-orange flavored? Answer: Chocolate AND orange! Half the donut was filled with orange, the other with chocolate. Sort of neat, but sort of disappointing. I wanted all the flavors together, which wasn’t going to happen unless I stuffed the whole thing in my mouth. Wah.
My favorites are the rice donuts. They are super light and fluffy! The black rice donut is also significantly less sweet than most donuts which I appreciate. I love the texture of rice donuts and could probably eat several of these. In North America, I crave a donut once every few months. I get one to satisfy the urge, eat it, and then feel sort of heavy and gross and don’t care to have more until the feeling returns days and days later. Then I eat another one, try to get the sugar film off my teeth and the lump out of my stomach, wait a few months… For better or for worse, it’s different here. I have been getting a rice donut about once a week (the exceptions to this were when I got the chocolate orange one once and another time when I opted for that potato onion Munchkin) for my bus ride to Seoul when I go tutor North Korean refugees. I am going to pretend that the rice ones have fewer calories than the donuts I am used to. Or justify my indulgences in the name of research, this blog, and sharing my insights about different cultures.
Then there are the cute character donuts. I haven’t had one of these yet, but they’re tempting (though I bet they would hearken me back to my American donut eating experience). Since my man-boy is named Dave, I couldn’t help taking a picture of this particular one. I haven’t had tried it yet, though. Notice how the donuts also have a “sweetness gauge” – this one ranks a 4 out of 5. By contrast, the rice crunch donut (my favorite so far) is a two, and the black rice donut is ½. I cannot imagine what it would take to earn the 5-donut sweetness rating.
Thus endeth my lesson on Dunkin’ Donuts in Korea (note: They also have Krispy Kreme here, but I haven’t bought anything from one of those stores). It’s been fun to sample the donuts and I also better appreciate that even though a chain may appear throughout the world, it doesn’t mean that all the stores or the products are the same. Can’t assume things! Go in and explore. You never know what you will find.