A glazed doughnut serves as the litmus test of any doughnut shop's worth. Don't get me wrong, I love doughnuts with fillings, toppings, different glazes and even fancy riffs like the Cronut, but sometimes you just gotta have a glazed.
At least this was our thinking as Sammy and I stopped by Alpha Doughnuts in Sunnyside. We were running late for our Korean hotpot dinner at Sik Gaek so I stood outside as Sammy ran in and got two glazed to go. We ate them on the run, the heft of the doughnuts leaving a smattering of grease spots on the paper bag with each hurried step.
My expectation of this being a random appetizer before kalbi was quickly blown away.
I stopped in my tracks. "Oh my God," I murmured as my eyes rolled back.
"I know," Sammy said. "I've been telling you about these doughnuts for 2 years. NOW do you believe me?!"
The not-too-sweet glazed coating, crunchy and delicate like snowflakes, melted on the tongue. The airy, moist surface laid beneath. The doughnut easily pulled apart leaving a small shiny imprint on my forefinger and thumb. This glazed doughnut dominated our thoughts for the rest of the night to the point that after dinner, we decided to make a repeat visit to see if lightning could strike twice.
The door creaked open as my eyes came into focus on a 70's diner from a Tarantino film, bathed in harsh fluorescent light.
Faded menus caked with layers of grease, a whiteboard containing the scrawl of today's specials, and the smell of diner coffee brewing on the counter put a smile on my face. I breathed in the history and wondered about past patrons of this time capsule.
"What can I get for ya fellas?" asked the gentleman behind the counter. Imagine our disappointment when we found out the glazed were sold out for the night. We regained our composure and reluctantly selected 3 other classics: a jelly-filled doughnut, a Boston Cream, and the old-fashioned cake doughnut.
The donuts were placed on wax paper and put on the counter. We just stared at them for a few seconds, deliberating which one to consume first.
I started with a bite of the cake donut. Dry as cotton, the "sponge" sucked out all moisture from my mouth. The gentleman smiled and said, "You're gonna need coffee for that. " He poured a cup of black coffee and slid it to me. I probably had a deer in the headlights look because Sammy yelled at me and told me to dunk it in the coffee (something I have never done). Taste was improved but it was no glazed.
The Boston Cream was next and it had so much potential. Unfortunately, the chocolate glaze with cracks tasted plasticky. The creme was ok but the inside of the donut was so dry that I didn't enjoy it.
2 down, 1 to go. This one was decent - the donut itself wasn't too dry, the powdered sugar and the jelly worked well together even though the ratio was a bit off (too much jelly filling)
It was near midnight as we bid adieu. Alpha isn't a squeaky clean modern space with college kids that serve you newfangled bacon/nutella creations and flavors of the month. It has stayed true to the classics and while rough around the edges, it has character. It also has some kickass glazed doughnuts. Unless they run out.
Doughnuts: It's open 24 hours so if you ever find yourself in queens off the 7 train, stop by and get the glazed. Also heard great things about the crullers. Haven't had breakfast, lunch, or dinner here so can't speak to the quality. The Yelp reviews aren't the most encouraging.
Sik Gaek is a short walk away. Great seafood hotpot!