A selection of doughnuts and kolaches from Richmond Donuts.EXPAND
A selection of doughnuts and kolaches from Richmond Donuts.
Photo by Mai Pham

Doughnuts Better Than Krispy Kreme? Check out Richmond Donuts

There’s something to be said about corporate coffee and chain restaurants: Generally speaking, they will offer a comfortable and consistent experience, so that you know before you go what you’re going to get. The beauty of finding a hidden-gem spot, however, is getting a dose of the unexpected: You really don’t know what you’re going to find unless you give a place a try, and when you find a spot that’s really great, it’s like discovering a treasure.

This is how I came to find Richmond Donuts. Ironically enough, I first noticed it on my way to a session with my personal trainer, who lives in Rosenberg. My usual route on Highway 59 had been plagued with construction delays, so I’d taken a circuitous route that day that took me past this small strip mall doughnut shop at the corner of FM 762/Thompson Road and Avenue I, where I spotted the shop’s old-school facade.

The old-school facade at Richmond Donuts.EXPAND
The old-school facade at Richmond Donuts.
Photo by Mai Pham

As I’m always hungry after my morning workout, I took a mental note of its location and returned after my sweat session to give it a try. For me, the litmus test for doughnut shops starts with a glazed doughnut because there’s very little to hide behind — just some fried dough and glaze. With just one bite of a glazed doughnut, you can usually tell whether everything else is going to be good.

Plush, moist, with an airy, pillowy center and a slightly chewy consistency, the glazed doughnut at Richmond Donuts was undeniably delicious. In fact, later that day, when a friend of mine offered me a Krispy Kreme doughnut to try, I couldn’t help but make a comparison. With the luscious taste of Richmond’s glazed orbs still lingering on my palate, I found them decidedly superior to Krispy Kreme, which, served at room temperature, had a cakier consistency with a more pronounced oily aftertaste.

Doughnuts Better Than Krispy Kreme? Check out Richmond Donuts (4)
Photo by Mai Pham

The other thing I tried that day was the large sausage and cheese kolache. When you order it, the owner will throw it in the microwave, which yields a piping-hot kolache with a soft, pliant outer shell and a hot-dog-like center that oozes cheddar cheese. I’ve had enough kolaches to appreciate one that is done well, and this one easily fits that description.

While I was checking out, I chatted with the owner, Nydanee Narith Hory, and she told me her life’s story. A Cambodian immigrant, she moved to the United States in the early 2000s, barely able to speak English (her English is fine now). Not able to find a job, she worked in her great-aunt’s doughnut shop for free for four months, just so she could get some experience and learn the business.

Nydanee Narith Hory, a Cambodian immigrant, learned how to make doughnuts by working for free.EXPAND
Nydanee Narith Hory, a Cambodian immigrant, learned how to make doughnuts by working for free.
Photo by Mai Pham

By the time she opened Richmond Donuts in 2008, she’d had several years’ worth of working in a doughnut shop. Even so, she says she has continually worked to improve her craft, watching YouTube videos so she could fine-tune her recipes and her methodology.

That’s what you taste when you visit Richmond Donuts. You don’t find super-fancied-up doughnuts and kolaches here. You find the classic stuff made with the skill and know-how of someone who put in the hours and the sweat equity needed to build a new life for herself and her family.

Places like these are the ones I treasure. The fact that it's also competitively priced is also a bonus. The classic glazed doughnut is just 55 cents. A dozen doughnut holes run $1.29. And my large sausage and cheese kolache set me back just $1.79.

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