City Donut head-to-head: May the best doughnut win

Nicole Lam
·10-min read

After my dream of a head-to-head at The Fabulous Baker Boy, I thought life would never be as sweet again. But, lo and behold, here I am, staring down at 11 puffy doughnuts, each with a different filling and armed with a hot cup of tea, ready to dive in.

Hand reaching for doughnuts from City Donut box
Hand reaching for doughnuts from City Donut box

For this head-to-head, I have picked City Donut, a fine purveyor of doughnuts that are freshly made and feature a whole host of local flavours that look as promising as their bright orange storefront. As our usual head-to-head goes, we always have a guest, and this time it’s Corliss, our social media extraordinaire.

Besides looking at our engagement numbers and Instagram likes, Corliss is also serious about her doughnuts, so you know she is good for it.

There is no wrong time to eat doughnuts, especially 11 of them, so let’s get right to it.

1. Original

Original Donut
Original Donut

Nicole: It’s always good to begin with the one that started it all. The Original (S$1.40) is a simple doughnut dusted with a fine film of sugar. It’s pillowy and springs back like good-quality memory foam but tastes rather ordinary. I was expecting a lot more since they make their doughnuts fresh. Oh well.

Rating: 5/10

Cross-section of Original Donut
Cross-section of Original Donut

Corliss: A classic sugar doughnut that’s brimming with nostalgia? Yes. Is it a pillowy and fluffy doughnut? Yes. However, I would have appreciated it if there was a thicker coating of sugar like my trusty S$1 doughnut I get from my neighbourhood bakery—now that sparks joy.

Rating: 6/10

2. Chocolate Rice

Chocolate Rice Doughnut
Chocolate Rice Doughnut

Nicole: Chocolate rice always brings me back those sepia-toned primary school moments that are filled with giggles and sticky fingers. I might be a little bit of a food snob, but when it comes to chocolate, rice gets a pass from me. Plus, this doughnut is piped with light chocolate cream, so who can complain?

Rating: 5/10, for the nostalgia, of course.

Cross-section of Chocolate Rice Doughnut
Cross-section of Chocolate Rice Doughnut

Corliss: The Chocolate Rice (S$1.90) is a soft coffee doughnut with a generous amount of cream topped with chocolate rice. I have to say; it’s a pretty great combination. The coffee doughnut does bring back some warm, gooey memories but quickly overshadowed by the waxy chocolate rice.

Rating: 5/10

3. Pandan Kaya

Cross-section of Pandan Kaya from City Donut
Cross-section of Pandan Kaya from City Donut

Nicole: You know, pandan anything always gets me excited. The Pandan Kaya (S$2.30) comes in its stuffed doughnut glory in a light fluorescent green and with a smattering of desiccated coconut.

The doughnut is airy but unrelentingly bread-y rather than a soft, pliable confection, I was expecting. There was barely a hint of that fragrant, heady pandan as I tore into it. You’d think the kaya cream would be the saving grace, but alas, it was a disappointment. A cream that has been whipped into submission, no doubt, but there was nary a peep of kaya.

Rating: 3/10

Corliss: I had high hopes for the Pandan Kaya, readying myself for that intoxicating combination of two classic homegrown flavours. Safe to say, it was a letdown from City Donut. I could hardly taste any pandan flavour; to add insult to injury, the cream filling in the doughnut was way too little.

Rating: 4/10

4. Pulut Hitam

Pulut Hitam doughnut from City Donut
Pulut Hitam doughnut from City Donut

Credit

Nicole: At first, I wasn’t too sure about this one. Pulut Hitam is one of those local deserts that I put high up on the pedestal. As a doughnut filling, it feels risky and a recipe for disaster. After a string of disappointing doughnuts, the Pulut Hitam (S$2.30) came out on top.

If you didn’t already know, pulut hitam is a local dessert made with glutinous rice and then drizzled with coconut milk. Here, the rice is used sparingly so that you get enough of that chewy, starchy texture without overloading the doughnut.

Then, you have this velvety, coconutty cream that ties the whole thing together. I never thought I’d like pulut hitam as doughnut filling, but there you go.

Rating: 7/10

Corliss: I’m not very familiar with pulut hitam, so I was going in blind. It’s interesting to see a local dessert as a doughnut flavour. I have to say the filling of pulut hitam cream was pretty decent. If you are a big fan of pulut hitam as a dessert, you would like this too.

Rating: 6.5/10

5. Milo Dinosaur

Milo Dinosaur City Donut 8
Milo Dinosaur City Donut 8

Nicole: It seems like City Donut was not messing around when they decided to lean into all those local flavours. The Milo Dinosaur (S$2.30) comes as a dark and handsome number that comes piped with a MILO cream that is sweet enough to satisfy the insatiable sweet tooth. However, I would have liked City Donut to be a little more heavy-handed with the MILO. It is, after all, a MILO dinosaur.

Rating: 6/10

Cross-section of MILO Dinosaur doughnut
Cross-section of MILO Dinosaur doughnut

Corliss: I’ll always have a soft spot for MILO. Everyone in the office will know that my morning routine consists of a MILO packet and scrolling through our social media feeds.

For this one, I was somewhat confused initially that if I was having a MILO or a chocolate doughnut. Since it’s called Milo Dinosaur, I figured that this doughnut would have come with an almost obscene amount of MILO in both the batter and filling. It was a reasonable effort from City Donut, for sure, but let us remember more is more when it comes to MILO.

Rating: 6/10

6. Pandan Ondeh Ondeh

Padan Ondeh Ondeh doughnut
Padan Ondeh Ondeh doughnut

Nicole: When it comes to local kuehs, nothing captivates like the ondeh ondeh. Pandan, caramelly gula melaka centre then topped off with a shower of coconut flakes—what could be better?

So, you can imagine my chagrin when this Pandan Ondeh Ondeh (S$2.90) bomboloni failed to deliver on all fronts. We were all rooting for you.

Rating: 3/10

Cross-section of Pandan Ondeh Ondeh doughnut
Cross-section of Pandan Ondeh Ondeh doughnut

Corliss: Ondeh ondeh is one of my favourite kuehs that I would always get if I walk past Bengawan Solo. Pandan Ondeh Ondeh-flavoured doughnuts sound promising, so I was looking forward to this one seeing as I love this my ondeh ondeh.

This is a pandan stuffed doughnut or bomboloni, an Italian-style stuffed doughnuts. This comes glazed with gula melaka and covered with fresh coconut shavings; we might be in for a treat.

There was barely any ondeh ondeh filling, and I got more doughnut than filling in each mouthful, a ratio that was not ideal. Moreover, there was no satisfying burst of gula melaka, so back to Bengawan Solo I go.

Rating: 4/10; it’s a real pity

7. Orh Nee

Orh Nee doughnut
Orh Nee doughnut

Nicole: A rather messy looking number, the Orh Nee (S$2.60) doughnut was another curveball in the City Donut lineup. Another homage to local desserts, this lilac ring comes piped with a buttery yam cream and little cubes of yam. It’s not a doughnut flavour I would naturally gravitate towards, but I can appreciate the effort it takes to transpose this flavour into doughnut form.

Rating: 5.5/10

Cross-section Orh Nee doughnut
Cross-section Orh Nee doughnut

Corliss: As a fan of orh nee, I was rather excited for this one. The filling of the Orh Nee in the doughnut was generous, smooth, not cloyingly saccharine and went well with the cloud-like texture of the doughnut. After my first bite, I knew that was it for me. I was head over heels and kept coming back for seconds and thirds. Plus, the carb-on-carb combination was something I never knew I needed.

Rating: 9/10; it’s a for me, but there’s always room for improvement, right?

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8. Citrus Yuzu

Citrus Yuzu doughnut
Citrus Yuzu doughnut

Nicole: The name Citrus Yuzu (S$2.60) does seem a little redundant since yuzu is part of the citrus family.

Alright, my pedantic nature aside, anything citrus always gets a double-take from me, even more so if it’s the favoured yuzu. A little more rustic in appearance, this Citrus Yuzu doughnut comes with a patchy and unruly glaze that will not earn it a seat at the debutante ball.

Still, it’s what on the inside that counts. The cream is laced with the fresh, tangy flavour of yuzu, which is quite balanced, so no complaints here.

Rating: 5/10

Hand holding Yuzu Citrus doughnut
Hand holding Yuzu Citrus doughnut

Corliss: I have to make the disclaimer that I’m not a fan of tart desserts, but this Citrus Yuzu caught me off guard. The Citrus Yuzu doughnut comes with a sugar coating which helps to balance the acidic yuzu curd. The yuzu cream was distinct and refreshing for people who love tart desserts, especially lemon tarts; this one for you.

Rating: 8/10

9. Black Sesame Donut

Black Sesame Doughnut
Black Sesame Doughnut

Nicole: I approach anything black sesame dessert with caution. It’s always a feat to achieve the right amount of black sesame such that your dessert is both rich and nutty. Plus, I’ve been burned one too many times before.

This Black Sesame Donut (S$2.60) was a little timid with its sesame. The colour was right but much too light-handed with the sesame.

Rating: 4/10

Cross section of Black Sesame doughnut
Cross section of Black Sesame doughnut

Corliss: One thing I do know about the traditional black sesame dessert is that it has to be thick and rich; that’s how you know it’s good. The doughnut has both a black sesame batter and black sesame filling; however, there lacked a certain oomph. I was left wanting and craving just a little more.

Rating: 5/10

10. Classic Peanut Butter

Cross-section of Classic Peanut Butter doughnut
Cross-section of Classic Peanut Butter doughnut

Nicole: This is no SCOOP peanut butter; this is the stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth old-school peanut butter. Yes, we love a 90s trend, but perhaps not this one. It was a little too sticky and gummy for me, this did not go well with the doughnut at all.

Rating: 3/ 10

Corliss: I’ve always preferred my peanut butter to be a little less thick, creamy, and sandy with large sugar cubes in it. But this one, the peanut butter was akin to a paste, something that does not mesh well with the texture of this doughnut. Although I must say consistency aside, the peanut butter was tasty and rich.

Overall, I would think it’s not bad.

Rating: 6.5/10

11. Nanyang Coffee

Nanyang Coffee Doughnut
Nanyang Coffee Doughnut

Nicole: Another quintessential Singaporean classic, the Nanyang Coffee (S$2.60) from City Donut pays homage to the traditional coffee that was ubiquitous across the island before Starbucks sauntered over with her fancy iced lattes.

This coffee-coloured doughnut does what it says and delivers an aromatic coffee flavour in each bite. A carefully balanced coffee cream that is neither too sweet nor too loud with caffeine, I would love to have this with my iced latte. You know, for the contrast.

Rating: 6.5/10

Cross-section of Nanyang Coffee doughnut
Cross-section of Nanyang Coffee doughnut

Corliss: Oh lord, with the COVID-19 situation, I don’t have to tell you how much I miss travelling. This Nanyang Coffee doughnut is a timely throwback to my romps to beloved JB. In those good old days, I would always be sure to grab a warm roti boy at JB Sentral on my way back home. Sigh, those were the days.

The coffee flavour was fragrant and not as overly-sweet such that you’d go in for a second bite. If I were to be nit-picky, I would have liked a slightly more pronounced coffee flavour, but that’s just me and my dreams of JB.

Rating: 7.5/10, brownie points for a JB throwback

Verdict: This is what you should order

– Nicole

Pulut Hitam doughnut
Pulut Hitam doughnut

Credit

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Pulut Hitam

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I like surprises, and this Pulut Hitam doughnut from City Donut was a big one. I have eaten my fair share of doughnuts, but one with a glutinous rice filling is a first indeed. There is nothing like it out there, and this is one that I would gladly come back for.

– Corliss

Cross-section Orh Nee doughnut
Cross-section Orh Nee doughnut
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Orh Nee

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This was a close fight between the Orh Nee and the Citrus Yuzu. But, the Orh Nee has my heart, the yam filling hits the spot, and I can’t get enough. To all the orh nee fans, trust me, this is the real deal.

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