The donuts looked too cute to be missed. All brightly colored and gay they looked like they had fallen off some confectionery rainbow. Oh, and their names were a delight too—Alcapone, Why Not . . . I stared at them for a long time seemingly mesmerized by the the colorful rings that gleamed under the halogen lights of the yellow counter.
We had passed the store already but it had beckoned me back. They were really soooo cute. It was like sushi. It was meant to please the eyes first before the palette. Grabbing a piece and sinking your teeth on it would be sacrilege. Maybe it tasted really good that making it so pretty was a way of controlling the eater lest he mindlessly just gobbles away.
“Are you buying?” my sister asked, breaking my reverie.
My tummy was still busy digesting all that satay and bakso we had at the funky food court named, “Food Library.” I was really bursting-at-the-seams full but apparently my taste buds weren’t.
I pointed to a box of two dozen bight-sized pieces of different flavors.
“For snacks later,” I reasoned out.
It had been a long day in Jakarta that started at the Monas, laughingly called by the locals as “Sukarno’s Last Erection, ” and ended at the crowded Citra Mall where we had dropped by to check-out the Gold’s Gym at the basement. We were on our way to the taxi stand when we passed by J Co Donuts and that’s how my love affair with the donuts began and how this story started. With my yellow take-out box of goodies, we were ready to navigate the notorious Jakarta traffic.
Back at the apartment, I took of my shoes, propped-up my feet and opened the box. Before option paralysis could set-in, I took one all covered in a light brown icing. I think it was called “tiramisu.”
If heaven had a taste. This would be it. The dough was so soft it seemingly melted in my mouth. The icing was light and not very sweet and was sooo creamy! The next one was covered with shaved almonds that gave a really pleasant crunch. This was followed by another one that looked like it was covered with Oreo crumbs. I took each of the tasty morsels, popping them one by one in my mouth. Each and every time goodness exploded in my mouth. Nope, the donuts weren’t very sweet at all. Some were even more savory than sweet. Oh yeah, I did give one piece to one of my friends who saw me looking so intense at the dinner table.
In less than half an hour, the box lay desolate and bare. I had had the best donuts ever.
That was last April last year in Indonesia. Fast forward to March in Manila this year.
It was an ordinary commuting day —- MRT from Ayala to Q Ave. It was just after noon so there wasn’t much of a crowd. Showed my bag to the chatting security guards, swiped my stored value card, passed through the turnstile, then retrieved my card. As I headed to the stairs leading down to the train, the sight of a billboard nearly knocked my breath off. In big bold letters it proclaimed, “J Co Dounuts . . . Now Here in Manila.” OMG! The crowd disappeared and it was just me and the billboard while in the background, trumpets sounded. Memories erupted and I was back in that apartment in central Jakarta seated at the small round glass table, eyes closed, as Alcapone melted in my mouth.
“Remember those super yummy donuts we had in Jakarta then later again at Jogyakarta?” I texted one of my friends who were with me on that fateful trip. “THEY’RE HEEEERRRRRREREEEEE!!!!!!!”
The past few days were heady with excitement as I told each and everyone I came into contact with about the most heavenly donuts on earth. One Friday afternoon, remembering that Greenbelt was one of the branches mentioned in the billboard, I starved myself for lunch then walked all the way to Greenbelt from the Hotel Intercon in search of the donuts. Searching every crook and cranny, I found none. Back at the office, Google informed me that the first branch to open would be Megamall and it would be on the 15th. Oh okay. I was too excited.
The store at Megamall has since welcomed donut lovers and I have since wolfed down 8 donuts in a single sitting on my first visit to the store. I was all giddy and happy. Never in my wildest dream did I think that J Co would make it here given the Pinoy’s bias for US franchises. That an Indonesian donut brand actually made it here was simply amazing. The donuts were just as I had tasted them in Indonesia. Light as a cloud dough and just right not-too-sweet glazes, icings, and fillings.
With J Co finally here in the Philippines, there will be one less hand-carried item from an Indonesian trip.