One of the great benefits of having a blog is that I can justify predictably terrible experiences: “If I try this, I can write about it! And if it’s awful I can spare others the same fate!” So know that, when I taste-tested Tom’s Donut’s (and wrestled the pre-coffee groggy Turkish man to accompany me on this venture), I was doing it for you. For how could I not write about the absurd American foods that mysteriously pop up in Bishkek (bar Kyrgyz Fried Chicken, which will never happen. Somehow donuts seem safer)? So here’s what a Turkish man who doesn’t like sweets and an American who doesn’t eat donuts thought about Tom’s Donuts – Bishkek.
First of all, presentation was perfect – so perfect the chocolate glazed and sprinkle-covered donuts and eclairs in the display case looked plastic (or more like the rubber donut refrigerator magnets they sell at the check-out at Narodnie). So I chose a jelly-filled and a banana cream-filled; at least the powdered sugar looked less plastic. And since I’ve never had an attraction to jelly-filled donuts, I figured that if I found them decent, then they’d probably pass international donut standards.
I cut open the banana creme. It was very yellow, but looked like it possibly had some banana in it. Wrong. The “cream” part was like artificial banana flavor plastic pudding. The donut – well, it seems like their donut recipe needs some work, as what I tasted was basically fluffy sweet bread. Crispy Creme affectionadios – hold off until you get back to the states, for what Tom’s Donuts serves up offers neither the crispy nor the creme. More like artificial flavoring pudding-filled fluffy bread.
As for the second – considering the prominence of fruit preserves in Russian cuisine, and their local abundance, it seems like the jam filling they shouldn’t get wrong. But nope, is was just a sticky sweet blog in a piece of sugar-coated dry bread.
So there you go – both unhealthy and needlessly atrocious in taste, not to mention, at 40 som apiece, nearly the same price as donuts back home. So don’t. Go inside Vefa to the Plus Market and spend the same on Turkish breakfast bread, su börek, or simit (sesame rings). Seriously, it’ll be a lot better.
The odd thing though is the “Tom’s Donuts” branding – apparently Tom’s Donuts is an old-fashioned donut shop with a few branches still scattered around the US. I’ve never seen one, but apparently there’s one in Chicago – where there are also (proportionately) a lot of Kyrgyz (seriously – Chicago even has three Kyrgyz restaurants: Jibek Jolu, Dastornok and Amani Cafe). So I would guess that some Kyrgyz working or studying in Chicago visited a Tom’s Donuts, but thought the packaging was flashier at Dunkin’ Donuts (see comparison below)? Possibly? Either way – the current recipe still falls a bit flat.