Mayly Tao poses with her latest creation, donuts made with the ube root, a bright lavender yam. (Michael 'Snacks' Ryan

Before you swiftly dismiss the idea of donuts in the new year (especially after weeks of holiday excess) just hear me out.

Heading east of Santa Monica’s iconic beaches, world famous Santa Monica Pier and touristy Third Street Promenade, down Santa Monica Boulevard, will bring you to the Mid-City neighborhood and to perhaps the greatest donut shop in the world — D.K.’s Donuts.

Walk in and you will witness customers with mouths agape and eyes glazed over, entranced as they marvel over D.K.’s fluorescent glowing display case, a treasure chest of sugar coated, chocolate frosted, rainbow sprinkled chaos as apple fritters and sticky buns jostle for position, beckoning greedy eyes. It’s hard to say no.

Locals have been saying yes for years now. It’s only been recently that D.K.’s has elevated from neighborhood donut shop to foodie hot spot.

Mayly Tao poses with her latest creation, donuts made with the ube root, a bright lavender yam. (Michael ‘Snacks’ Ryan

D.K.’s gained serious media attention in 2013 by tapping into the nation’s cronut craze and (for trademark purposes) creating their rendition, the Double Decker O’nut. D.K.’s signature spin on the donut-croissant hybrid (as well as everything else that they make) is to astonish and overwhelm you with variety. Double Decker O’nuts became all the rage, and D.K.’s found themselves featured on popular food websites and local news outlets throughout the year. (Their cronuts were so good that they were threatened with a lawsuit by the New York bakery that invented them.) Santa Monica’s favorite donut shop had dates to Hollywood’s hottest award ceremonies with ridiculously large orders for their Double Decker O’nuts.

Now with a new year, D.K.’s is focusing on their donut roots with the ube root.

“D.K.’s is kicking off 2014 with purple yam donuts, which is perfect for Pantone’s Color of the Year,” CO-owner, and from what I gather the undisputed Donut Princess of Santa Monica, Mayly Tao cheerfully explained while holding an oversized rectangular tray of the bright purple donuts made with Buttermilk, Inc.’s new Purple Yam baking mix.

Pantone is a company best know for implementing standardized color matching systems and annually decrees a Color of the Year. This year’s featured color, Radiant Orchid — aka, purple.

Never shy of riding trends, Mayly and her family set sights on the ube root, a bright lavender yam, as the featured ingredient for their latest and greatest creation.

“We always want to expand our products and find new ways to treat the customers. We hope that this ube product will attract foodies to D.K.’s,” she said.

The result, a crumb cake donut with subtle hints of the naturally sweet root. Unlike D.K.’s red velvet donut or orange-tinged pumpkin donut, the colors of the ube do not shine through. However, encrusting sweet bits of ube atop the donut give it the signature purple pop it rightfully deserves.

The greatest challenge for the new ube donut is simply standing out in a display case of 100-plus varieties. With its exotic name (unless you’re Filipino) and bright purple studded coating, the ube donut has a fighting chance amongst a sea of buttermilk bars, bear claws, and maple bacon logs.

Ube is a major crop and food source in the Philippines. It is many times compared, as well as confused with the taro root. Ube is used in a variety of desserts, as well as a flavor for ice cream, rolls, tarts, cookies, cakes and other pastries. That being said, mixing ube into donuts seems prudent in the year of the Radiant Orchid! Along with its naturally sweet flavors and color, ube has some health benefits by being high in potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. Never mind the fact that in this instance it is deep fried and bathed in a sugary glaze.

As Mayly laid down the details of all things ube, her mother (chief of D.K.’s development team) interrupted with two new concepts, a chicken salad O’nut sandwich and a tuna salad O’nut sandwich. I came into D.K.’s to discuss one new product and two more products were born. That’s how D.K.’s is, family run with endless possibilities.

“We have all these ideas and we know it’s just going to mean more work for us,” Mayly explained, half rolling her eyes. “But we do it anyways.”

Mayly’s New Year’s resolution — meditate.


If you go


D.K.’s Donuts

1614 Santa Monica Blvd.

Santa Monica, Calif.


(310) 829-2512


Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at

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