Nestled in the corner of the Dragon Gate Mall behind the crowded bustle of Cheng Huang Miao and the Yu Garden is Donut Factory, which in its That’s Shanghai advertisement that caught our eye last week, heralds itself as the bringer of true American donuts to Shanghai. Donut Factory makes an honorable attempt to elevate the social status of the donut in Shanghai. The glossy white tables, walls, and floors deflected all attention to the little cakes sitting nakedly under the glass counter, worthy of admiration for anyone who appreciates the beauty of this holey invention (which we do).
Unfortunately, Donut Factory fails to back up their claim. We ordered up some sprinkled treats, each reasonably priced at 7 RMB, and proceeded to chomp away. Sure it looked like an American donut, walked like an American donut, and even quacked like an American donut; but alas, good sirs and madams, these were definitely not American donuts. While the glaze is passable, its what’s underneath that was so disappointing. Loose and airy, the donuts at Donut Factory tasted more like bread rolls than anything, with the fried dough missing that buttery density and composition that we have longed for ever since we moved here. Similar to Mr. Donut
s, the Chinese Japanese chain that is low on sweetness, Donut Factory produces an edible dessert to be sure, but a poor facsimile of the classic American-style donut, drenched in glaze and drowned in shortening. Like our companion said after finishing hers: “I just don’t feel guilty eating this. Something’s weird.” We are keeping our fingers crossed that Dunkin’ Donuts will not stray from their original recipes and finally show Shanghai how real donuts are done.
Last note: the manager at Donut Factory told us that they were not part of any franchise or chain, with a second store set to open somewhere in Pudong. Both he and the owners are from Singapore. Oddly enough, while doing a quick Google search we came across the popular Singaporean donut chain of exactly the same name. The website printed on Shanghai’s Donut Factory business card was not working at the time of this post; something is weird, indeed.
Donut Factory – #1003 Dragon Gate Mall, 168 Fang Bang Zhong Lu (方浜中路 168 号）Tel: 6335-6885
Eric Hu is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news and gossip about Shanghai’s food scene to food at shanghaiist.com.