Jerusalem Donut Crawl 2021

This year’s Chanukah donut / sufganiyot (filled donuts) crawl took us around Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem and surrounding suburbs. The selections were plentiful and the quality varied significantly.

There are a number of observations to share before reviewing each location. First, many places emphasize toppings and appearances which often do not correlate to taste. Second, out of the way and unpopular places were amazing. Lastly, some places that had great reviews had long lines and sometimes ran out of any donuts (and thus were not reviewed).

Roladin (Mamilla Mall)

Roladin is a big chain with locations all over Israel. They have a large selection of fancy sufganiyot on Chanukah. However, the quality and taste varied depending on the selection, and generally, the taste did not live up to the hype or presentation.

The sufganiyot looked really great and the chocolate truffle seen above had great flavor. Unfortunately, most of the others like pistachio had little taste other than sugar. The cookies and cream, while tasty, relied too heavily on the Oreo cookie on top.

Kadosh (Ben Yehuda Street Area)

The food at Kadosh is amazing so don’t just stop in for the donuts and stay for breakfast or lunch. The problem is that there is a long line to get in – even just for donut pickup – as they have a great reputation. The donuts basically met the high expectations: excellent dough, nice flavor while not being too sweet. They were differentiated in presentation from many places, as it placed a dollop of filling on one side and had a sugar coating.

Gourmandises by Yoel (Ben Yehuda Street Area)

Go through the Friends of Zion Museum to locate a nice cafe in the back run by a French couple with amazing desserts. Gourmandises makes wonderful light sufganiyot which were tops in regards to flavor and texture of the dough. The icing and filings were light and tasty and avoided the heavy sugar found in many others. Try the pistachio and roses. Or the lemon. Or just about any of them – I had six! Remarkably, there were no lines at all.

Boutique Central (Ben Yehuda Street Area)

The small cafe was recommended to us but the sufganiyot were more of a pastry with no filling. The dough was tasty but disappointed overall.

Boutique Central donut had no filling

Uri’s Pizza (Me’a She’arim)

One can easily miss this place on a side street, and, as it’s not a classic bakery, one would imagine an easy skip for a donut crawl. Not so. While the donut was simple and not beautiful, the dough was light and the filling was just right.

Brooklyn Bake Shop (Me’a She’arim)

Brooklyn sells out fast and we did not get to sample their donuts but heard they were amazing.

Brooklyn Bake Shop with sign in green that they were sold out of donuts

Brizal (Me’a Shearim)

Brizal is near Brooklyn and there’s a reason they had donuts while Brooklyn did not. They looked nice but are inedible. Sweet and artificial. We threw the two we purchased out after the first bite.

English Cake (Mahane Yehuda)

English Cake supplies the sufganiyot found in many of the small stores located around the city. Like Roladin, they look pretty but rely too heavily on sugar as a substitute for taste.

Sweet Nation (Mahane Yehuda)

Like English Cake, Sweet Nation has a beautiful presentation as a cover for a sugar fix. Most of the flavor comes from the fancy toppings. Very festive, but not for a foodie.

Beautiful sufganiyot at Sweet Nation relied heavily on the toppings

Delicases de Paris (Emek Refa’im)

After the great experiences of the French bakeries of Gourmandises and Kadosh, hopes ran high for the two French bakeries on Emek Refaim. Both were disappointments. Delicases sufganiyot had heavy dough that resembled a challah roll – dense and completely off.

Moulin Dore (Emek Refaim)

Moulin Dore was probably the biggest disappointment. The heavy dough was coupled with a spoiled filling. Simply horrible and tossed in the garbage.

Ne’eman (Emek Refaim)

The third stop on Emek Refaim was not a French bakery but a tried and true location. Unfortunately, Ne’eman’s donut simply had little flavor, even while the top and icing were quite good.

Pat BeMelach (Efrat)

Outside of Jerusalem is a great cafe with tasty food and great sufganiyot. The icing, filling flavor and dough texture were all great in every flavor we sampled – and there were many!

Summary

Here’s a table summarizing our review of the sufganiyot of Jerusalem for Chanukah 2021.

BakeryDough textureDough flavorfilling amountfilling flavortopping flavorpresentationoverall
Gourmandises by Yoel101010778.59
Pat BeMelach8798.5778.5
Kadosh888.587.588
Uri’s Pizza996 7NA57.5
Roladin4475.57.58.56.5
English Cake65757.58.56.5
Sweet Nation5584786.5
Ne’eman542687.55
Boutique Central970NA66.57
Delicases de Paris1284564
Moulin Dore1280462
Brazil2000031
Results of the Jerusalem 2021 Donut Crawl

Israeli sufganiyot are quite different than those found in Brooklyn, NY and varied widely in terms of quality. Top scores go to Gourmandises, Pat BeMelach (in Efrat) and Kadosh. We understand that Brooklyn is very worthwhile as well, although it was sold out of donuts when we arrived. Roladin donuts are fine and are easily found throughout the country. We hope you enjoyed the holiday!

Related articles:

Brooklyn Chanukah Donut Crawl 2020

Chanukah Donuts: Brooklyn 2019

Brooklyn’s Holiday Donuts

Chanukah Donuts: Brooklyn 2019

The annual Chanukah pilgrimage in search of great donuts went to Brooklyn again this year. Due to the horrible tragedy that struck the Satmar community in Jersey City, NJ a few weeks ago, the first leg of the trip was in Williamsburg where the Satmar community has a large presence. We set out to try the donuts of seven different bakeries of which two were standouts. Later we headed to Boro Park where we sampled four bakeries which were all very good.

Williamsburg

Oneg Bakery, 188 Lee Avenue

The best donuts of Williamsburg were at Oneg Heimishe Bakery.

The store is small and the selection of donuts is limited but that says nothing about the quality of the food. The caramel and custard filled donuts were outstanding. They were overflowing with delicious centers which were very tasty and not too sweet. The dough was light and the icing was very good. An overall rating of an 8. Considering that the donuts only cost $2.00, lower than many others, if felt like a 9.

Oneg also was the only bakery we visited that carried “frittle,” essentially small and light pieces of fried dough with sugar which are made only on Chaunkah. They were quite good. May I add that the babka from Oneg is among the very best in New York.

Black and White Bakery, 520 Park Ave

The Black and White Kosher Bakery is not that close to the other bakeries but worth the trip. There is a mix of dairy and pareve donuts, plain and fancy, with prices ranging from $1.75 to close to $5.

The donuts were heavily filled with the taste of the fillings getting a range of reviews from amazing to just OK. The dough was very good, perhaps not as good as Oneg due to the freshness of when we arrived (jelly donuts decline in value as rapidly as a BMW). Overall an 8.

Traditional Kosher Bakery, 123 Lee Ave.

A very simple store with a simple name. It serves a number of non-baked items as well as some other baked goods including a cinnamon stick (OK) and a nut/craisin/cinnamon loaf which was terrific. The plain jelly donut had a very tasty raspberry jam but the dough was tough, heavy and thick. Overall, a 6.

Steinberg’s 701 Bedford Ave.

Steinberg’s exterior has no signage whatsoever. The store is clean and decent size with a pretty good selection of donuts. Some of the jelly donuts were assembled in sandwich-format rather than center infused.

The donuts had a very nice amount of filling, but unfortunately, not that tasty. The icing fell apart and onto the floor on first bite and the dough was not that fluffy. Overall rating of 5.5.

Kaff’s, 73 Lee Ave.

Kaff’s was one of the largest bakeries we visited in Williamsburg and they had a nice selection including two fancy choices with elaborate toppings. Regrettably, the dough was too heavy and the filling, while plentiful, was not on par with the presentation. Overall score of a 5.

G’shmak 164 Wallabout Ave.

G’Shmak was a real disappointment. While thrilled to have a halavah donut which had great flavor, everything else was lacking: The donuts had very little filling and the dough was very heavy. Huge piles of garbage near the entrance did not add to the experience. Overall rating 3.

Sanders 159 Lee Ave.

We stopped into this nice store – twice. Each time we were told that donuts were about to be ready, and each time kept waiting. On the second visit, the person at the store said that he had three small donuts in the back which he could give us, and after five minutes he confessed he had none and that we should return yet again. Nope. Gets a 0. The gluten-free cookies were also not great.

Boro Park

Boro Park bakeries had a much better consistency of high quality donuts than Williamsburg. I would recommend any of the four we visited. Here they are in rank order:

Gobo’s, 1524 New Utrecht Ave.

Gobo’s is a new addition to the Boro Park donut crawl and it did not disappoint. They have a different kind of jelly donut which is based on a churro, a cinnamon fried dessert. It was magnificent, with a slightly crunchy exterior, light and flaky dough, with a light creamy inside. An incredible treat and different than every other donut on the crawl.

The more traditional donuts were also very good with excellent dough, heavily filled. Toppings and icings remained on the donut. Overall rating of a 9.0.

Sesame, 5024 13th Ave

We typically go to the Sesame in Flatbush, but decided to try the location in Boro Park due to the proximity of our other stops. The bakery was a knock-out, just like the Flatbush location.

There are dozens of flavors to choose from, including unusual ones like pistachio. The donuts score at the top of the charts in every category: delicious and plentiful fillings, light and tasty dough, flavorful icing that is not overly sweet that stays atop the donut. An incredible treat, whatever flavor one tries. Scores a 9.0.

Taam Eden, 4603 13th Ave.

Ta’am Eden has long been a subtle favorite, a great counter-balance to Sesame. Both have fantastic dough and tasty fillings, but Ta’am seems to not want to overwhelm. The donuts seem smaller than Sesame and the filling doesn’t ooze out all over the place. But such amazing flavor, with new options like Passion Fruit and Pina Colada (seems like you can get some vitamins in donuts these days). The toppings were perfect in that they were very flavorful and remained in place. Overall an 8.5.

Weiss Bakery, 5011 13th Ave.

Weiss is simply an all-around great bakery. Compared to the other stores like Sesame which basically only serve donuts on Chanukah, Weiss adds donuts to its delicious repertoire, but doesn’t try to redefine its store.

The donut fillings are full and very tasty as were the toppings. The dough was not on par with Ta’am Eden or Sesame, and therefore got an overall score of 7.5. However, the store was handing out donuts to children who participated in a Boro Park scavenger hunt, worth an extra point for being a great member of the community!


Here is a chart summarizing the ratings for the 2019 Donut Crawl. Feel free to share the article and peruse and share the other articles on First.One.Through which focus on Jews, Judaism and Israel.

Happy Chanukah!


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Brooklyn’s Holiday Donuts

The Last of the Mo’Kichels

A Sofer at the Kotel

Ruth, The Completed Jew

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Brooklyn’s Holiday Donuts

Okay, so my family has a bit of an obsession about food. It’s a statement that’s always true, and it gets worse on holidays.

On Chanukah, we make an annual pilgrimage to different areas of Brooklyn, NY to sample the great donuts. Well, not really “sample” as much as devour. Here are the highlights so you can participate in the fun.

Sesame. 1540 Coney Island Ave.

The store is located on the diagonal corner from the large Pomegranate kosher food store. The donuts are simply delicious. The shelves are often wiped clean and people must wait for the fresh donuts to be brought in from the oven around the corner.

Ever eat a lemon jelly donut fresh from the oven? It’s out of this world. The hazelnut? Amazing. The Lotus and regular jelly donuts were also terrific.


Selection of jelly donuts from Sesame

Grab a cardboard box for six when you enter the store. It’s easier to handle than the large box for a dozen as you try to grab some fresh donuts as the store workers bring in the next batch. (We had two six-packs and another plastic container for two more).

Bagels N Greens. 1379 Coney Island Ave.

This store is for people looking for elaborate donuts with multiple and complex toppings. Excellent flavor at a steeper price. They also have a nice lunch menu and chairs to sit – unique among the bakeries listed here. I suggest factoring in some healthy food somewhere in the donut crawl so your kids don’t think you’re totally insane.

Ostrovitsky’s. 1124 Avenue J

Nice, clean and well lit, the holiday donuts are just one of many great things to sample here (also try the chocolate horn – yum). The Rosemarie chocolate donut was marvelous. The place is often busy, with an organized line, but definitely worth the wait.


Line at Ostrovitsky’s worth the wait

Gombos Heimishe Bakery. 328 Kingston Ave

Gombos is in Crown Heights. Over the holiday, it is ALL about the donuts; there is nothing else really going on here. Prices are the cheapest and the selection and taste is quite good. They have a good mix of dairy and pareve donuts. The place is a bit of a balagan (crazy disorder) but a required stop if you have kids and/or buying dozens of donuts.


Some of the donuts at Gombos


Those are the top four bakeries if you’re looking for exceptional donuts and a great holiday experience. Here are some others that were sampled and worth visiting:

Weiss Bakery. 5011 13th Ave

Excellent bakery. Try the rugelach or chocolate horns. The donuts are okay, not required eating during the holiday.

Taam Eden Bakery. 4603 13th Ave

Right down the block from Weiss Bakery is Taam Eden. Very nice selection of donuts at good prices.

Schreiber’s Homestyle Bakery. 3008 Avenue M

Quite close to Sesame, is a small (not as clean as one would like) but definitely delicious bakery called Schreiber’s. In addition to the pretty good and very tasty selection of donuts, are lace cookies which among the best in Brooklyn.

Mansoura Bakery. 515 Kings Highway

Mansoura is a Syrian bakery and does NOT carry donuts. They do carry some amazing baklava and other Sefaradi dishes. Note that it’s not so close to the other bakeries.


Baklava at Mansoura

Enjoy the holiday AND the food!


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Today’s Inverted Chanukah: The Holiday of Rights in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria

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