Trailer: "The Donut King" is the rags-to-riches-to-rags story of a refugee who cornered the west coast donut market

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This is quite an interesting topic covered in a couple of other great documentaries for those interested.


Hmm, links were broken.


Aw, he was the American dream for families like mine. My bro achieved it, he’s worth around US 10m every 3 to 4 yrs. Kept losing it because he doesn’t seem to understand that this is the US. Cheating on your hella smart, multi-degreed wife, repeatedly and having illegitimate children, is…uh, not smart.

In Cambodia that kind of bullshit is shrugged at.

Me? Nope. :grimacing: BUT at least I’m trucking along steadily with my mediocrity.


Thanks for telling us about this. I love narratives like this, where an entire industry comes to be dominated by an immigrant group that’s shut out of other, more “respectable” industries. These are the stories we need to hear, because even with their highs and lows they’re still more representative of the nation’s ideals than are the loudmouthed MAGA America Firsters.


“Immigrants built this country.”

I like donuts alright, but I am most appreciative of all the refugees that came here from Vietnam and Cambodia because godawmighty I love Southeast Asian cuisine.


I appreciate the ingenuity and hard work, as other have already said here, of the immigrant community in doing what they did. But (you saw that coming) I will say this historical chain of events has resulted in tremendous difficulty in reliably finding good donuts on the west coast. Sure there are a few specialty spots, but as far as just going to your corner donut shop and getting a truly good donut goes… it ain’t happening out here for most of us. At best, west coast donuts are mediocre by comparison with the rest of the country (and no, I’m not talking about Dunkin’s or Krispy Kreme). It’s a shame that we’ve settled for things that pass as donuts when far better ones could be just as easily produced and sold.

Personal opinion of course, but (non-statistical personal anecdote) shared probably 90% of the time when talking with someone who’s been back east for any length of time.


If you think East Coast donuts are good, you should try midwestern donuts sometime… Amish, French, Polish, Eastern European, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese influences (along with so many other influences) = pastry win!

It took me a long time to realize that people weren’t joking when they claimed Dunkin’ was good/passable…


We live near a lot of Vietnamese and Cambodian restaurants - all of them good.
Also, the donut place around the corner is owned by a Cambodian family.


The Vietnamese came to dominate nail salons when actress Trippi Hedren (she was most famously in The Birds) was working with refugees from Vietnam in the mid 1970s and the Vietnamese women were fascinated with her nails – so she hired her nail stylist to teach these women how to do the work.


Midwestern donuts are very much included on my good list… that’s why I didn’t specify east coast. Paczkis, Amish donuts, etc… lots of gems to be found in the midwest and the east, for sure.


:eyes: Where do you live? And why am I not there?! The city I’m in has exactly one authentically Cambodian restaurant. If another pops up it’s like the law of the land or something so the one before it would go out of business. This city is infamous for having the crown of the west peninsula being nothing but SE Asian shops, too. Usually with African or S American owners. A lot of them were married to SE Asians, mostly Sino-Vietnamese and Ethiopian, Senagalese and Ghanan restaurants/shops.

In fact from the 80s to mid-2000s the majority of signs, including official road ones, were in English dead last, in tiny font. A whole laundry list of nearly every other language that’s not Western European was on top. You’d think you were in a completely different country than the US. Most SE Asians are from former French colonies so there’s a startling amount of that too except bastardized. Not “true” French as one snobby ivory tower linguistic pro once said.

Coughs And I didn’t understand the glittering marble and glass towers of downtown was in the same city or even the same country. I never deviated from a set path from that section of the city to school until I was abt 13, I think. My school focused on integrating into US culture and English Second Language curriculum. They never really explained the immediate vacinity or “common knowledge”.

If we did ended up in the city center it almost always was a school trip or we’d have to go to the INS (ICE’s predecessor) offices. I thought the teachers had the passports or some kind of pass/ticket so I never questioned it for the longest time. My parents ALWAYS kept theirs, and mine, on them, even after becoming US citizens.

EDIT: break down wall of text


Seeing DK’s of Santa Monica featured is emotional. The Tao family that took over the shop in Santa Monica worked so hard, the kids working there and working their way through college while giving all the L.A. donut shops a run for their money with constant innovation, leveraging new marketing techniques and new creative flavors as well as just the attitude and helpfulness with which they greeted their customers. The siblings are co-owners with their mom and took over the shop next door as a savory vegan eatery. They have thousands of customers and 45,000 instagram followers and there’s always a line, often out the door.

I’ve discovered the daughter Mayly Tao’s podcast:

I’d had most of my interaction with their mom while they were still in school but also with Mayly’s brother. I’d been in there maybe five times when Mayly was working. So one of those times I’m behind this guy who says to her “I’ll have the usual.” She apologized for not knowing what it was. She’s maybe served me once before, so when I got up to her, unable to suppress a look that says I’m kidding, I said “I’ll have the usual.”

“I’m going to smash your donut.”

So yeah I’m hooked on DK’s.


He Was the Donut King, At the height of his power over the flow of all the yeast glaze and holes going through the west coast he had only one potential rival, and that was, the dreaded “Papanasi”.


Nobody outside of Wisconsin knows how to make an apple fritter.

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