A donut shop has won the hearts and bellies of locals and tourists in Vung Tau, a coastal city about 112 kilometers southeast of Ho Chi Minh City.
Andrei Abramov and Valeriia Kuropatkina first opened “Donut Nga” (Russian Donut) about six years ago.
Hailing from Saint-Petersburg, Russia, the pair initially visited Vung Tau City for vacation in 2015.
Though their trip was meant to be just a holiday, the cool climate, fresh air, beautiful scenery, and hospitable people convinced them to stick around.
To do that, they decided to set up their very own Russian donut shop.
“I wanted to bring delicious Russian donuts to everyone, especially children,” Abramov said.
|Andrei Abramov (L) and Valeriia Kuropatkina (R), owners of Donut Nga, prepare donuts for customers. Photo: Minh Chau / Tuoi Tre News|
Abramov and Kuropatkina first drummed up attention for their donuts by offering free samples to locals.
Then, in December 2017, they officially launched their shop.
In the beginning, they only served three types of donuts: sugar, chocolate, and strawberry. Each sold for just VND3,000 to 5,000 (US$0.12 to 0.20).
They’ve since expanded to offer 13 flavors with prices ranging from VND5,000 to VND10,000 ($0.2-0.41) each.
According to Kuropatkina, Donut Nga sells approximately 1,000 donuts to 300 customers each day, with that number surging on holidays.
|Two of Donut Nga’s best-selling combo sets. The total cost for these sets is just VND88,000 ($3.58). The flavors include strawberry, white chocolate vanilla, colored chocolate, nutella, matcha chocolate. Photo: Minh Chau / Tuoi Tre News|
The six steps of donut making
It takes six steps to make a Donut Nga donut.
Preparing the dough: First, the bakers mix flour, sugar, and yeast together to prepare a dough.
First proofing: Next, the dough is proofed so that it can rise correctly. This process takes about 90 minutes, during which time the bakers wrap the dough in plastic to keep it from forming a crust.
Shaping: During the shaping process, bakers punch and knead the dough to remove air bubbles. They then flatten the dough and cut it into circular pieces.
Second proofing: The pieces of dough are then put on trays and wrapped in plastic for a second time and left to sit for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the yeast and the weather.
Deep-frying: Next, the donuts are deep-fried in oil. This distinguishes them from American donuts, which are fried separately on each side.
Coating: The bakers use tongs to dip one side of the doughnut into different flavors of icing.
Though there is a constant line at Donut Nga, Abramov and Kuropatkina fry each donut to order, ensuring every bite is hot and fresh.
This means that, on peak days, customers wind up waiting in line for up to an hour and a half to purchase a box of donuts.
|Buyers line up to wait for their donuts. Photo: Minh Chau / Tuoi Tre News|
Nguyen The Anh, 30, a resident of Ho Chi Minh City resident, stops at Donut Nga every time he makes a visit to Vung Tau.
“Other shops make cold and dry doughnuts. They are not as good as this store,” Anh said.
Nguyen Minh Thu, a 22-year-old local resident, shares equal love for Donut Nga, particularly the chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry donuts.
“The donuts are cheap but delicious. They are well worth waiting in line for,” she said.
Of course Abramov and Kuropatkina are equally grateful for all the love they get from the locals.
“The secret to our donuts isn’t the ingredients or the process. It is the combination of everything we put into them, including our attitude and gratefulness to our customers,” Kuropatkina said.
Donut Nga normally opens from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm from Monday to Saturday at 130A Phan Chu Trinh Street in Vung Tau City.