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Photos by Brian Addison
When I first wrote about one of my favorites joints—Costa Mesa-based Sidecar Doughnuts—taking on a second location in Santa Monica, I pleaded with the owners to look at Long Beach. And it didn’t really follow through. And then after seeing Blue Star open in Venice, I was even more invested in trying to bring an elevated donut scene to Long Beach.
In a sense, I am happy the deal failed—and that is because a local Cambodian family has opted to take over the old Gladstone Donuts at 7th and Redondo, bring in their family tradition of donut making, and create things like crème brûlée donuts, Tiger Tails, strawberry-banana delights, and the best damn blueberry donut this side of Maine.
This is Knead Donuts. And it is pure awesomeness.
Donut making has a rich history in Cambodian culture and, therefore, a rich history in Long Beach given the Cambodian community’s extensive influence on local culture after escaping the Khmer Rouge to build new roots here. It became a way for these immigrant families to sustain the future of their children while assimilating into a culture beyond opening a noodle shack. (Hey there, Phnom Penh.)
Despite the misleading Yelp! review page—given Knead isn’t paying for advertising on Yelp!, the evil company has only a 2-star “review” up while hiding 47 other reviews that range in the 4- and 5-star range—the place offers the most spectacular donuts to hit Long Beach, complete with family members switching between shifts.
We got Amy, the niece of owner Huey, who not only took us through the menu item by item but was honestly one of the most genuine people to talk about in support of her family’s endeavors. Hell, when one customer asked if they had their maple bacon donuts, she said would be willing to whip some up if they gave her a few minutes sine they were sold out.
It’s that kind of joint; filled with love and the aromas of an old-school donutery but with contemporary flair.
Their Tiger’s Tail, a twisted strip of chocolate cake intertwined with their yeast-based dough, is nothing short of addicting; the sweetness of the chocolate pairs wonderfully with the sourdough-y flavor of the yeast dough.
Or their crème brûlée donut, a cream-filled round wonder topped with caramelized sugar that gives the I-have-to-get-out-my-spoon crack of the French dessert’s traditional topping paired with the creaminess hidden underneath.
And that blueberry donut.
Taking a glance, one expects the typical, heavy-cake that comes with the history of this esteemed piece of fried dough. But like my go-to Sidecar’s famed huckleberry donut, Knead’s blueberry concoction is light, sitting perfectly between cake and donut—and therefore, creating the perfect blueberry donut.
On top of it all, they offer taro milk tea, Vietnamese iced coffee, boba, and a plethora of other Asia-centric sweet drinks on top of some spectacular house-made croissant breakfast sammies.
In other words, go.
Knead is located at 3490 E 7th St.