Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Turn Dough - Chimney Cakes, Donut Ice Cream Cones, Venice

Turn Dough, in Venice, CA, taught me that sometimes it is ok to just walk down the street, take a gamble, and get a great reward.

I had a fabulous dessert, featuring one of my top passions (soft serve ice cream), served in a unique (and delicious!) way, without ... research and planning ahead.  And yes, this was novel to me.

But let me back up.
Captivating Sign.
I'll admit it.  I was walking down the boardwalk, and I was drawn in by the sign.  Not drawn in by the prominent word on the sign "milkshakes", but, by the images of the crazy cone creations.

I rarely wind up somewhere on a whim, without pre-meditated decision and thorough research, but ... it happened here, at Turn Dough ... the home of chimney cones, filled with soft serve ice cream, drizzled and topped with elaborate things.  Yes, these had Instagram written all over them, which, is often not a good sign for actual taste.  And why would I expect a random place in the long line up of shops serving ice cream stuffed into baked goods to be good?  Seriously, donut ice cream sandwiches and soft serve with churros sticking out were both on the same block, and nearly every third shop had some kind of ice cream ...

I dunno.  I was drawn in, what can I say?  A quick Yelp search showed four stars, so, at least no immediate red flags.
Perhaps a red flag would be that no one, literally no one, else was there.  No one else even seemed to look over, and the area was quite busy, 1:45pm on a sunny Friday.

The storefront is along the boardwalk, with menu boards showing their signature chimney cake ice cream creations (most, with pictures!), along with options to build your own, plus the beverage line up.

You order at one end, and it comes out at the other.

There were a few standing tables as well.   I had the place to myself, which was actually quite nice.

The signature creation lineup did look pretty amazing, full of really fun components, but nearly every one had just one element to it that I wasn't excited for, so I choose to build my own (although I really did almost get the signature tiramisu one, which came with amaretto mascarpone inside, plus nutella dipped lady fingers as garnish, and espresso and cocoa powders sprinkled over it!).

The build-your-own system is listed out, step by step:

Step 1: Spreads. Your choice of nutella, dulce de leche, crunchy peanut butter, or cookie butter (+$1).  I didn't know it at the time, but, these get slathered *inside* the chimney cake.

Step 2, the base ice cream, vanilla bean or vegan coconut (+$1).  They used to have chocolate, but, the market demanded a non-dairy option.

After that, toppings: walnuts, almonds, graham cracker crumble, rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, gummy bears, cap'n crunch, or fruity pebbles.

And finally, sauces: chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, sea salt caramel sauce, raspberry sauce, mint chocolate sauce, white chocolate sauce.

All are $8.90, for signature creations or create-your-own, and come in a chimney cake.  There is no option to just get a cup or regular cone of ice cream, no option to get no toppings, no alternate sizes.  I did find the inability to just get ice cream a bit odd, but I guess there are so many other places to go if you just want simple ice cream?  Nor could you just get a chimney cake, slathered with a spread (although I guess you could say "hold the ice cream"?)

Extras of nutella shell or fresh fruit are listed on the menu for additional $1, but I also found out that any signature components of other creations (e.g. matcha kit kats, matcha pandas, toasted marshmallows, Toffifays, Oreos, Ferrero Rocher, brownies, nutella dipped ladyfingers, lemon curd, etc, etc) are also available to add on for $1.
Once you order, you are given a number (which, was amusing, given that I was the only one in sight), and, two wet wipes.  "You'll need these", the server said with a smile, and, well, she was very, very right.

I needed more than two, and I certainly needed more than two napkins, which she provided alongside my treat.  Protip: GET EXTRA.
Custom Creation: Cookie Butter / Sliced Almonds / Mint Chocolate Sauce / White Chocolate Sauce / Raffaello. $8.90 + $1 + $1.
For my creation, I decided to create my own, inspired randomly by the Coconut Raffaello.  For some reason, I decided I really wanted a raffaello, and this seemed like a great time to get one.  The raffaello version normally comes with no spread nor sauce, and is covered with coconut and sliced almonds (plus the rafaello as garnish), but I wanted spread and sauce, and didn't want coconut, so, I say "inspired by", as, really, the only things I kept were the nuts and rafaello.  It came with two chocolates, one perched on either side.

For my spread, I went for cookie butter.  I almost got the dulce de leche, but decided last minute to go for cookie butter, as I wasn't sure the dulce de leche would go well with my sauces, and I knew I wanted those.  I kinda wanted all of sauces, honestly, but I also knew they wouldn't combine great, so I went with my first choice (mint chocolate!) and added the white chocolate as it seemed like it would compliment it better than the salted caramel that I also wanted.  My ice cream choice was the vanilla, I had no interest in trying the vegan coconut one.  I kept the sliced almonds from the raffaello signature one, as I had my own sprinkles with me, and nothing else appealed.  And of course, added on the raffaello.

It was quickly assembled and handed over, and I was a bit surprised to see that while it was a cone, the cone was in a cup, which turned out to be extremely practical, and this wouldn't have worked at all without it.  It also came with a tiny wooden spork, that I hated ... I know plastics are not good for environment, but, the mouthfeel of the wooden thing was not pleasant, and it was too tiny to get a real good bite of ice cream, but, again, while I thought this was going to be a lickable cone creation, it, wasn't.

So, starting with the ice cream.  It was very good soft serve, above average, creamy, and, it reminded me a lot of Japanese soft serve, very, very milk forward, not a classic American style vanilla bean.  I really liked it, and it was quite refreshing (an odd word choice, I know, but really, it was!), particularly when combined with the chimney cone (more on that soon!).  It melted quite nicely, which, matters to me.

My sauces were fine, pretty average mint chocolate sauce and white chocolate sauce, thin style, drizzled over it, not particularly good nor bad, likely just purchased.  The sauces did add some flavor, but I suspect simple salted caramel would have been a nicer choice.  The sliced almonds added crunch, and I'm glad I had them for texture.  I added my own sprinkles too.  I plucked the raffaello off and ate them at the end, a delightful, creamy, sweet post-treat treat.

Honestly, I would have been pretty happy with just this soft serve, in a normal cone, with these (or other), toppings.  But, there was much more to it.

My creation wound up pretty expensive, $10.90, since I had two upgrades, and just the base is usually $8.90.  I can't say it was necessarily worth $10.90, but, it really was an excellent creation, and I'd get another.
Cookie Butter & Chimney Cone.
So, the chimney cake.  This was another dessert itself!  And, I'll admit ... this was my first time ever having a chimney cake, although I've seen them before (never stuffed with ice cream though).

If you aren't familiar, these are an Eastern European pastry, known by many names in their respective countries of origin, made by wrapping dough around a dowel, buttering it, and dipping in something (traditionally cinnamon sugar), and then baking, and then re-dipping in cinnamon sugar.  They come out crispy and slightly caramelized on the outside, yet soft and fluffy inside, and the dough has a croissant-like buttery flaky quality to it.  Many places I've seen them before make them to order, but Turn Dough did not, although it did seem quite fresh.

This thing was delicious.  Like a hybrid churro croissant donut ... sorta.  A bit hard to describe, but, crispy and soft, fluffy and flaky, sweet and buttery ... just all at once.  I also liked the experience of eating it, just ripping a little off, as it pulled off the cylinder shape, was really quite fun.  Of course, this is also why one requires the wet wipes ... my fingers quickly got quite sticky with cinnamon sugar and melty ice cream, but I kinda didn't care.

The spread you pick comes as a lining inside the cone, and mine was very generously slathered in cookie butter.  The cookie butter was quite tasty, but, I found that it did somewhat over power my experience - there was quite a bit of it, and it was very rich, thus taking over many bites entirely.  It needed the ice cream to temper it.  In the future, I'd pick a different spread, most likely the dulce de leche.

Much like the ice cream, I actually would have been pretty pleased with just the fresh chimney cake on its own, no ice cream, spreads, or toppings required.  But the combination of the refreshing, cool, creamy ice cream and the flaky pastry really was fabulous.  I liked to alternate bites too, ripping off a chunk of cone, and then taking a spoonful of ice cream.  So very good.
Melty Mess.
As I neared the end of my cone, I quickly realized why it came in a cup and not just a cone, as the ice cream had melted out all over the place.  I can only imagine how much more messy I'd be without the cup.  The chimney cake doesn't really form a full structural cone.

One thing I liked is how the eating experience changed as you progressed through it - first, it started as mostly just an ice cream sundae, spoonfuls of ice cream with toppings, then you get into ripping off some cone, and then near the end the ice cream had really soaked into the cone, which was totally different too.  And at the very end?  Of course I just drank up all the melty ice cream in the cup.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bubble Nini Tea, Sydney

Update Review, October 2019, Darling Square Location

Darling Square seems to have just sprung up since my last visit to Sydney.  

Sure, there were signs that this area was about to turn into a destination for the past year, but it was during my trip in October that I found myself in the area nearly every day, because I kept seeking it out.  Well done, city planners.  The selection is well curated.

I was quite pleased to find that Bubble Nini Tea had opened a shop in the Maker's Dozen inside The Exchange, just a 15 minute walk from my hotel, and quasi on the way home from my office.  I loved my experience at the Chippendale location, but, that was a bit far away for a random night.
The space inside The Exchange that Bubble Nini occupies is tiny, like all of the storefronts.  No dedicated seating, and no real sense of "space", but Bubble Nini did their best to incorporate the elements of the other shop here, notably, the flowers.  Right at the entrance is a beautiful display.
Ordering Area.
And then, this is the rest of the space.  Seriously, tiny.

This is the ordering station: just a little table, with menus on it, and a tablet set up.  A staff member wandered out to take orders when people showed up.
October 2019 Menu.
The menu has been updated to follow the latest trends, notably with a new "Pink Salt Cheese Milk Foam" series and some new additions to the Blended range featuring yogurt.  It was the yogurt drinks I zoomed in on, 3 options, two which sounded just like fruity smoothies (berry or mango/passionfruit), and the final, what I was there for: purple rice.   Yup, even Bubble Nini got into the cheese foam and yogurt rice drink crazes.

I was very curious to see how they'd do it.
Purple Rice Blended with Yogurt ($7.50)
+ Taro Pearls + Pink Salt Cheese Milk Foam. (+ $1 each).
"Purple Rice + Honey + Fresh Yogurt"

There was only one drink with rice, and interestingly, in a menu full of cute named products, it was also one of only a few with normal, descriptive names.  "Purple rice blended with yogurt".  Of course, I wanted more than just rice and yogurt, and I decided to really mix it up, instead of adding fresh taro, as I had at Koomi and The Moment (reviews coming soon!), I added taro pearls, because Bubble Nini is known for the fresh, handmade, flavored pearls.  Quality pearls, and unique flavor, so even though I've been anti-pearls lately, I wanted to give them a try.

I also asked for the foam, and, much like at The Moment, was met with a bit of "uh ....", notably, concern over it not fitting, unless I got a large.  So, a large it was. 

My drink took a few minutes, and was handed over.  It came in a standard milk tea tall plastic cup, no cute bottle like The Moment or Bengong Black.  Slightly disappointing to not add to my bottle collection, but I cared about the taste more than anything.

I'll start at the top: the pink salt cheese milk foam.  The foam was *excellent*.  It was salty, it was savory, the first to really taste like cheese actually.  It was fluffy yet dense.  The best foam I had in Sydney.  I'm very glad I added it.

The body of the drink was quite different from the others I had throughout the week, in that it was much better blended.  I guess, it *was* called "rice blended with yogurt", and it lived up to that name.  Much of the purple rice was pulverized and mixed in, which resulted in tiny bits of texture, but not the chew that I had come to love in the other drinks.  There was some near the bottom, but mostly, it was blended, more smoothie-like, just, a rice smoothie.

The yogurt was a runnier style, more like classic yogurt, and everything was sweetened with honey, which added a pleasant, not fake, sweetness, but a sweetness nonetheless.  I wasn't really wanting something so sweet, and wished I had asked to have that reduced.

It also seemed to be blended with something frozen.  Maybe the rice was frozen, like in a smoothie prep?  Or there was ice, but it didn't seem watered down.  It was definitely far colder, and ice-y like, which was really different from the others.

Really, this was a purple rice smoothie, whereas the others were sticky rice with creamy thick yogurt on top.  Just, a different thing really.  I wouldn't get this again, but I can't fault Bubble Nini for it, this is just not my style of drink.

I'll go back to their quality taro drink though, and add foam to that ...
Taro Boba.
On the bottom of the cup was the taro boba.  I didn't taste taro, and yes, the pearls were soft, not stuck together, and likely a nice quality, I didn't like them.  They were a pretty purple color.  I guess I really just am over boba entirely.  Sadly, it was hard to avoid them, since I wanted the rice chunks too. I wish I hadn't added these.

Original Review, March 2019, Chippendale location

Bubble Nini Tea is ... a bubble tea shop.  And a flower shop.  A combination bubble tea flower shop.  For realz.

This is the kind of thing made for Instagram, but, it turns out, also makes quality beverages.  Let me introduce you to Bubble Nini Tea, in Chippendale, in Sydney.  Perhaps the highest quality bubble tea I've ever had.
A Delightful Experience.
My experience at Bubble Nini Tea was delightful, all around.  And I use that word intentionally.  It wasn't just a good beverage, but, the feeling I had both being there, in the lovely flower shop, and once I left, from consuming quality goods, was ... well, delight.

I learned that this is what milk tea made without crap can be like.  It can be ... fresh tasting.  Not unhealthy.  Sydney has a slew of bubble tea shops, ranging from chains with non-dairy creamer and powders and hard boba and too sweet jellies, to places that pride themselves on the quality of the tea, steeping it in small batches, to those that distinguish themselves by innovating on the toppings/additions (cheese foam is now fairly standard, but some places offer ... flavored cheese foam! Or, bruleed tops!  And more recently, purple rice or yogurt bases).

But how many use fresh milk?  That cuts the selection down quickly.  Real taro, rather than powder.  Now the pickings are slim.  And, handmade pearls, in a variety of flavors?

Pretty sure Bubble Nini Tea is the only one that meets this profile.


Bubble Nini Tea is located a block off of Central Park, in the new development near the uni in Chippendale. 
From the sidewalk, there isn't much to see, just a fairly standard storefront, no outside seating even.
Ordering Counter.
Once you step inside, it still doesn't look like much, at first glance.  An ordering counter with laminated menus sitting on it, and some flowers.  A small work area is behind the counter.

Its a small place, with a homey feels.
But the moment you breath in, you realize you aren't in a normal small bubble tea shop.  You are also .. in a flower shop.  The aroma is strong.

There is very little seating, just a counter along the one window, with stools.  I think it could seat 4-5 people total.  And, as I said, no outdoor seating.  Not really a place to stick around, which is fine, as the park is just a block away.
The other half of the interior is filled with the flower arrangements.  Actually, this  may have been more than half the total floor space.  It seemed like a bit of an odd setup, really.

But it made for a very tranquil, nice smelling, experience.


Bubble Nini Tea offers only drinks, no snacks or munchies.
The menu is broken down into 5 categories: Bubble Nini Hand Made Pearls, Pure Tea, Fresh Fruit Infused, Blended Range, and Ice Cream Floats.  Each category had fewer and fewer options.

Each drink had a cute name ("It takes two to mango" might have been my favorite), and was designed with additions and bases.  It didn't seem like modifications were really a thing, no, pick your tea, pick your add ins, look at our huge list of toppings.

The menu had a few things that made me laugh though, besides the names.

At the bottom, the featured "Instagram Favourites".  Not the ones that taste the best, or they recommend, but, the Instagram sensations.  This did worry me slightly.

The guide at the bottom also designated which were H (Hot), which were C (Cold), and which were Crown (Popular).  Ok, fine, except that ... the only ones that had a crown were the first section "Bubble Nini Hand Made Pearls", and ... every single one in that section had a crown.  Does this mean the only popular drinks are the first section, so don't bother reading the rest of the menu?  And what about the fact that one of the featured Instagram Favourites came from another section, thus, no crown?  Its a fav, but not popular?

Anyway, my selection was easy, only one featured taro, both fresh taro AND hand made taro pearls, and that is certainly what I was going for, their take on a taro milk.  If I wanted something lighter, or more refreshing, one of the sparkling options with jellies, or the very Instagram worthy "Honey, I'm Home" with chia seeds and alvo vera and mint suspended in a beautiful butterfly pea flower tea would have been my picks.
Requisite Flower Shot.
Before I left the shop, I of course felt compelled to take my photo of the fairly beautiful beverage, in front of a wall of flowers.  I wasn't going to but ... I mean, really.

I still wasn't expecting much from the bubble tea, very worried that people were just into the Instagram nature of the shop.

And then I took a sip.

Well huh.  It was good.  Very good.  And, so very different.
A Taro-bly Bad Name. Medium. $6.50. +Coconut Jellies $0.50.
"Fresh Taro + Full Cream Milk + Taro Pearls."

-Taro Pearls, +Sakura Pearls, +Coconut Jellies.

As I mentioned, Bubble Nini Tea does not use taro powder, so it wasn't the purple color you find elsewhere.  The real taro paste, smeared along the edges, even looked slightly unattractive, ugly brown mush, right?

But I didn't care how it looked.  I wanted to taste taro.  And I did.  The taro paste was quite strong, and I loved the earthy nature.  Since there is not added sweetners and junk, it wasn't too sweet at all.  I truly got to enjoy the taro taste.

The milk, quality Australian full cream milk (which, I swear, tastes sooo much better than American milk, just like the eggs ...), was rich and a nice creamy backdrop.  

There is no ice added, which meant it was not as cold as I actually would have preferred, as it was 90 degrees out, and I was looking for a cold beverage.  But it also means it didn't get watered down.

They were out of taro pearls, which come standard, so I asked for sakura pearls instead.  The pearls were unlike any others I've ever had.  I thought I didn't really like pearls, and have been opting for jellies and puddings instead elsewhere, but these proved that fresh made pearls can be amazing.  They were soft, pliable, and had a lovely floral flavor.  I also had a stray mango pearl in my cup (bonus! I almost picked mango!), and it too was an amazing texture.

I also added coconut jellies, because I was worried I'd not like the pearls per usual and want some texture.  I'm still glad I added them, as they gave another thing to slurp up and enjoy.  Unlike most places, they didn't seem totally soaked in sweet, and complimented the drink, rather than making it too sweet.

The most amazing part of this drink, besides finally getting to taste real taro, and finally enjoying pearls, is that it didn't leave me feeling gross.  So often I gulp down a bubble tea and then ... feel the effects of all the powders, high sugar content, the non-dairy powdered milk.  This just left me feeling satisfied and good.  A wondrous thing!

I really enjoyed this, perhaps more than any other taro milk in my life, and I'd gladly get another (and, would love to try some other options too ...)
Bubble Nini Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, November 11, 2019

Randy's Donuts

Randy's Donuts.  A Los Angeles area icon.

Randy's Donuts is, well, a bakery, specializing in donuts.  It is also a landmark.  It is considered a mandatory stop for many on their way in/out of LAX.  It is the home of some truly fabulous donuts, that I finally was able to experience on my recent trip to the LA area.

Randy's is known for their huge donut sculpture on the top of the building (er, buildings, they have several locations now), and for having a 24 hour donut drive through, but it turns out, the donuts are impressive in their own right.  Highly recommended.

I'd go back in a minute.
Table of Joy!
I did not visit Randy's Donuts myself in person, but several of my co-workers did, to pick up a large order, several hundred donuts, for a surprise treat at a work function.  Of course I helped orchestrate this.

We pre-ordered online to make it easier, which was simple on the website.  We could have had them delivered, as Randy's uses numerous food delivery services, but they wanted to drive to pick them up.

If you are curious, yes, you can literally just order one donut, and have it brought to you.  And yes, I was quite tempted my final morning in town, after having experienced them the day before.
I put together the donut order for our group, expecting about 100 people to want donuts.  I wanted us to get to experience basically everything, so we got two dozen each of each type of assortment that Randy's offers: Classic, Deluxe, Fancy, and Premium, plus several dozen of the Randy's Rounds.

The table was a sight to behold.

I wasn't able to get a photo before the first wave of people broke into it, but, here you can see some of the glory.
Rounds: Topped - $6/dozen, Iced $5/dozen, Glazed $4/dozen.
Knowing that plenty of people really do want a bite of something sweet, but don't want to commit to a whole donut, or aren't comfortable cutting them up, we got plenty of Randy's version of donut holes, which they call "Rounds", which, really is more accurate, as they are far bigger than the hole of a donut.

These ares old by the single or dozen, cheaper by the dozen.  We got a couple dozen of each kind of assortment: glazed, iced, topped.

I really liked the size, as they were about the size of 3 Dunkin' Donuts Munchins, so, yes, much bigger than a donut hole, and were plenty big enough to feel like you could eat just two and be satisfied. 

From here, I only tried one, the maple glazed.  It was good.  Above average.  A fluffy, beautifully raised donut hole, very generously coated in maple glaze, that truly did have a maple flavor to it.  It was however very sweet, as it was glazed in regular glaze, and THEN the generous maple glaze was applied.  I think this would be great alongside black coffee if you really wanted a sugar bomb, but, as I didn't have it until I was many donuts in, it was just sweeter than I really wanted.
Classics: $1.25 each or $13/dozen.
The first dozen was the most basics, dubbed the classics. 

Randy's picked the assortment, a nice variety, including a bunch of cake donuts (all iced - vanilla, orange, cherry, maple, chocolate, sprinkles and chocolate, Devil's Food), plus some raised (also iced or glazed).   They do make plain cake, and a few other icing tops as well.

None of these were the most exciting to me, none are ones I'd generally order, but I did want to try something basic, so I tried the cherry iced cake donut, and it was fine.  Nicely coated in icing, good fruity flavor (although, sweet!), decent enough cake donut base.  A very good donut, but not a standout given what else was to come ahead, and not one I'd care if I had again or not.
Deluxe. $1.35 each or $14.20 / dozen.
Next, the "Deluxe" box, a whopping $0.10 more per donut.

This box had less traditional shaped donuts, although still nothing entirely novel. We had an assortment of bars (buttermilk - plain, glazed, and chocolate iced), old fashioned (glazed, chocolate), crullers (vanilla, chocolate, maple), twists (glazed, chocolate), and long johns (chocolate, maple).  I was a little sad that my top pick from this category, and what I'd order if I was ordering from this bunch, a blueberry cake (available plain or iced), was not included.

I tried a chunk of glazed buttermilk bar (good, moist, decent buttermilk flavor, sweet glaze), a bite of a glazed old fashioned (fine, but nothing notable), and a chunk of the vanilla cruller (lightly, fluffier, sweet, fine).  I was glad to see they nailed all the basics, er, deluxes, but, still, not really want I wanted, and again, none that I would really care to have again (nor would I be opposed to having again).

Basically, a bunch of good donuts, nice execution, but I was ready for the next box.
Fancy. $1.65 each or $17.80 / dozen.
Ok, *now* we were getting fancy, for $0.30 more per donut than the deluxe, the fancy assortment.  This is where my interests mostly lay.

This box had (left to right, top to bottom): Bear Claw, Raspberry Jelly Filled, Cinnamon Roll, Roasted Coconut Raised, Lemon Jelly Filled, { Unknown ... Cream Filled }, { Unknown ... }, Fruity Pebbles Raised, Sugar Crondy, Fruit Loops Raised, Chocolate Raised with Coconut.

The missing one was a apple cinnamon filled, which someone snagged before I took the photo.

Yes, things were getting more interesting, and the colorful fruit cereal topped donuts certainly gathered attention (and are likely popular with kids?).  I didn't try those though.  Nor did I try any of the coconut ones (not really my thing), or even the cinnamon roll (I do like these, but it didn't look particularly special), nor the second mystery one (filled with something and dusted with something).

But I did try the other mystery one, which you can see already had a chunk missing, as my co-worker loved it, and wanted another opinion on what it was.  He said it had "boozy cream" inside.  I ... didn't taste booze.  But it was a very good, fluffy, raised donut, with some cream filling, AND some kind of coating that we definitely couldn't identify.  Everyone who tried a chunk liked it, and no one could really say what it was.  My 4th pick overall.

I had special ordered a raspberry jelly filled, so I left the other one alone in this box, but did try a bite of the lemon jelly filled, once someone else broke into it, just because I wanted to try the filling.  I usually dislike lemon desserts, particularly lemon curd, but this was called "lemon jelly", which sounded more interesting.  And it was.  It was just sweet lemon flavored ... uh, jelly?  I didn't dislike it, but lemon flavors still aren't for me.

I somehow failed to try the crondy, as I didn't realize what it was at the time.  Doh.  Next time.

I did however try the MASSIVE bear claw, and, zomg, my world has been changed.  Absolute favorite of the day.  More on that soon.

This category also contains what I consider to generally be "The King of Donuts", the apple fritter, but alas, we were not provided any.  If I were ordering for myself, that would have been my third pick to order (after the aforementioned raspberry jelly and another one still to come).  Also in the Fancy category, that we didn't get, are cream filled long johns (chocolate or maple), more varieties of "crondys" - their version of a cronut, and some other coconut based ones.
Premium. $2.80 each or $31.60 / dozen.
Yes, they got fancier.  Er, more "premium".  The highest end box, the premium assortment.  If you are keeping track, these are a full $1.65 more than the classics ... you could get a classic AND a fancy for the price of one of these.  They really were more elaborate, although were some of my least favorites.

Here we had: M&M's raised, Bacon Maple Long John, Red Velvet Cake with Ganache, Matcha Tea Raised, Chocolate Iced Oreos Raised, S'mores Raised, Nutella Raised, Vanilla Iced Oreos Raised, Caramel Raised with Coconut & Chocolate, and Mint Raised.  

The missing one from this box was the White Ganache Raised with Chocolate.

This box scared people.  Seriously.  Everyone *stared* at them, but no one was willing to cut into them.  I didn't go for most of these, Oreos, Nutella, S'mores ... they looked great, sure, but I know they aren't really what I like.

I did try a bite of the M&Ms when there was still one left later in the morning, and I was impressed with the quality of the chocolate coating, very rich chocolate, and the crunch from the mini M&Ms really was nice.  A good donut, probably my 5th favorite overall.  I also tried a chunk of the bright green matcha glazed donut and was quite let down.  It didn't taste like anything!  The raised donut was still good, and the coating was well applied, thick, sweet, but ... matcha it really didn't seem to be.  It was just ... green.

I had to try a chunk of the bacon maple long john, because everyone was talking about it, and, yup, it was a good version - again, nice raised lofty base, well applied sweet maple glaze, plentiful bacon, not too greasy.  I'm kinda over the novelty of bacon maple donuts, but, this was done well.  

The biggest letdown in this category, or really, of all the donuts I tried, was the red velvet cake donut.  It was ... bo-ring.  I didn't taste anything special in the base at all, it just was like a regular cake donut.  Dense, yet moist, and fine, but ... nothing red velvet about it.  The icing also didn't have any real noticeable flavor.  

But Randy's made up for that with the mint raised, again, a great glazed raised, fluffy base, with TONS of icing, really quite minty, and then absolutely loaded with bits of chocolate and green (mint?) chocolate.  The icing, like all the icings, was quite sweet, but I just adored how intensely mint it was, and the crunch and extra flavors from the mint and chocolate bits on top were fantastic.  A wonderful donut, my second favorite of the day, and I went back for seconds and thirds of it.

Other options in this category include a giant Texas Glazed, a Tiger Tail, and, the other donut I was most excited for, and actually wanted to special order, the maple raised with churros.  Yes, a raised, glazed donut, with maple icing, AND churro bits on top.  I was pretty sad they didn't include one, but, it isn't like I didn't have other options ...
Fancy: Raspberry Jelly Filled. $1.65.
My co-worker who put in the donut order knew I cared more than most about the donuts, and asked me which one I wanted most of all, so he could special order it (he did this for a few others too, not just me!), to ensure we got our top picks.  Of course I had an extremely hard time picking just one, but, in the end, I gave him a list of three: raspberry jelly filled (classic, can be amazing), maple raised with churros (fascinating!), and, apple fritter (king of donuts).  I let him pick.

Set aside for me (along with the ones for the other special people), was the raspberry jelly filled.

I didn't try it right away, as I went for trying chunks of all the communal donuts first, since I wanted to try as many as possible.  But once I had tried 13 (please don't judge!), I was ready to settle in to my donut.

This was basically as good as a jelly donut is going to get.  I feel broken record by now, but, the raised donut was just perfectly done, fluffy, raised, not too greasy, and, yup, coated in tons of sweet glaze, a very thick layer, well coated.  The glaze was fresh, and didn't flake off.  I also liked that it had the signature slightly crispy side with a crosshatch on it, that some jelly donuts often do.  The extra texture was nice.
Raspberry Jelly Filled: Inside.
But a key element of a jelly donut of course is ... the jelly!

Here you can see the cross section, and it should come as no surprise that it was very generously filled.  Randy's doesn't mess up on the execution.  Seriously, every bite had plentiful jelly.  If anything, actually, I'd say it almost was over stuffed, as there were bites that had more jelly thandonut.

What I loved about this is that the raspberry jelly was very, very classic jelly donut jelly.  It wasn't trying, at all.  No artisinal filling, no seeds, no fancy compote ... it was raspberry jelly.  Classic donut shop, raspberry jelly.  Goopy, sweet, and just perfect for what it was.

I do have to confess that I was a bit overwhelmed by sweet things by the time I got to this donut though, and I know I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have.  "It is so sweet!", is all I could think, as I bit into sweet glaze and very sweet jelly squirted out with every bite.  By mid-day, I gave it another go, and again just found it sweet (but delicious), and wished it was morning, and that I had a black coffee to go with it.  

I think this donut really was perfect, but, my ridiculous donut binge prevented me from enjoying it at its fullest originally.  My third favorite overall, and I'd really love to get it again sometime, first thing in the morning, and NOT with 200 other donuts.
Leftover Jelly Donut / Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
So what about the other chunk?  Yeah, I saved it.

It actually held up remarkably well, still soft and fluffy in the morning.  But I still found it actually just a bit too sweet for me, and kept thinking, "I really want some cream or ice cream to compliment this."  So I saved it for after lunch, heated it up in the toaster oven, and stuffed it with vanilla ice cream.


The warm glazed donut was glorious of course, and the ice cream did exactly what I was hoping - it tempered and complimented the sweet raspberry filling.

I truly adored this leftover creation, warm perfect donut, warm gooey sweet jelly, and cooling ice cream.  Delicious.  Maybe this donut is better suited for a dessert donut after all, and Randy's *is* open 24 hours ...
Fancy: Bear Claw. $1.65.
I don't know how to introduce this. Besides, #glorious.

Seriously.  This was, no question, the best bear claw I've ever had.  But not only that, it was, again, no contest, one of the ... top two donuts of my life.  And I can't point at what was #1, but I feel there *must* have been another one that was more amazing.  But I don't know what it was.

So, without further ado, the most glorious bear claw there ever was.  

And to start, it was MASSIVE. I've seen a lot of comically large donuts before, but this was a league of its own.  Insane.  The size of 4 normal donuts.  And, although it was the best thing ever, there is no way, no way at all, that a single human could take this down in on sitting, even me.  But that was no problem, as it held up amazingly well - I even had a second chunk (of the other one that no one claimed) the next morning, and it was good as new.  No heating, no any special treatment required.

But back to the beginning.  I took a large chunk.  Bigger than a round even.  I was captivated at first bite.  Yes, all the raised donuts have the same perfect, fluffy, fluffy, amazing lofty base donut, but this one was even better than the rest.  No oily nature, just, perfect.  And yes, it was coated in just as much glaze as all the others, again, not novel, but perfectly done, and the sweetness it added worked great with not only the donut, but also the filling.
Bear Claw: Inside.
The filling.  Wow-zer.

Think of the best apple pie of your life.  Transplant that filling inside a perfectly raised glazed donut.  And that is what we had here.  And, like all the Randy's donuts, the amount of filling was extremely generous.

The raspberry jelly filled donut went low-brow, just sweet goo style, but this was not remotely the same.  The filling was loaded with chunks of apple, perfectly sized to really have something to bite into, and perfectly cooked, not mushy, not too firm.  The spicing was dead on too, not too much obnoxious apple pie spicing, just enough to make it interesting.  It was sweet, and did have goo too it, but not too sweet, and the sweetness from the donut glaze instead is what brought it all together.

I really can't explain how amazing this was.  I had an initial chunk, and I had so many other donuts to try, but I couldn't help but go back and get a full second chunk, which I promptly devoured.  And when there was a final bear claw still remaining, I devoured another full half after lunch, and then had the other for breakfast the next morning, and I honestly think they were all equally glorious.  I didn't grow sick of them, and they certainly didn't degrade.

Life changing.  Maybe even worth going to Los Angeles for?  Uh, maybe ...
Randy's Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato