Downtown Donuts - Santa Ana
I don't dislike donuts, but if there were a dozen donuts and a dozen bagels placed in front of me, I'm going for the bagels.
My attitude changes, however, if the donuts are fried fresh and doled out from a street stall during a festive night market.
Such was the reason I finally took the opportunity to try Downtown Donuts last Saturday night. It was while we were strolling the small crafts fair outside the Yost Theater in Santa Ana that I saw Downtown Donuts had also set up a tent. They were serving hot, freshly-made donuts straight from a small portable deep fryer and charging $4 for a half dozen (covered in either powdered or cinnamon sugar).
It immediately reminded me of my childhood in Indonesia when our family would set out into the night after dinner in search of bolang-baling. Bolang-baling is Indonesia's donut/beignet--sweetened dough fried to brown-crisp pillows--and the good ones were made by itinerant street hawkers who would fry them in woks heated by a whoosing propane fire.
And though Downtown Donuts' donuts aren't anything like bolang-baling, or even a typical American donut--they're cotton soft, kind of floppy, and bite-sized--they are wonderful when hot and eaten outside in the dark of night--the exact right environment in which sugar-covered confections made of fried dough taste the best.
You could conceivably have the same experience by going to the brick-and-mortar of this mom-n-pop, which is also in Santa Ana and open late on weekends. But for some reason, I prefer these donuts when I find them by chance, served from the fleeting impermanence of their temporary stall. Why is that?
307 W 3rd St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
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