Sugar Rush: Ho-Dduk, Korean Doughnuts, from Grace Street
The chalk board near the register at one month old Grace Street in Koreatown explains exactly what their signature product is: "Ho-dduk is a Korean-style doughnut with melted brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts." You can order your Ho-Dduk alone ($3.50), or with a scoop of Ronnybrook ice cream (add $2). Pictured here is a scoop of hazelnut (they also had vanilla).
Both the plain and ice cream versions are made to order on a griddle and served piping hot. However, the Ho-Dduk with ice cream is cut into four triangle-shaped pieces, and the non-ice cream version is served uncut in a paper sleeve.
I really enjoy the dessert's subtlety. There are no fancy toppings to choose from or injections of pastry cream. Nothing about the Ho-Dduk is over the top. It doesn't have to be. The dessert is successful because it's a yeasty, flavorful dough-pocket served hot off the griddle—and what's not to like about that?
The cinnamon, brown sugar and walnut mix are present inside the pocket in flavor form only. There's no runny paste or liquid, just a slightly moist interior that reminded me of a piece pie crust softened by pie filling.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Grace Street's interior. The cavernous space has very tall ceilings and beautiful original artwork (large color photos, drawings, etc.) on the walls. One side has a row of comfortable couches and there are plenty of nice tall wooden tables. The space is very welcoming and definitely separates itself from the other bakeries and cafes on 32nd Street.