Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

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Photos by MJ Klein, including FOOD PHOTOS!

UPDATE: Please see the last photo in this article for an update.

Dunkin’ Donuts is a global phenomenon and it’s reached Taiwan.

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

Known throughout the United States, and primarily New England, Dunkin’ Donuts is rather new here and people are discovering it for themselves.  But the DD’s in Taiwan are quite a bit different from their American counterpart, and we’ll show you how in this article about our recent visit to a Dunkin’ Donuts in Kaohsiung.

According to Wikipedia, Dunkin’ Donuts plans on opening 100 new stores over the next 10 years.  That is already starting to happen.  Let’s take a look inside.  Remember, photography is forbidden inside the store (like many places in Taiwan) so all the photos except for our own food are undercover shots.

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

The first thing that we noticed was that the donut case shelves are angled towards the customers and have an open front.  This is because this Dunkin’ Donuts is self service on the donuts.  Hui-chen and I visited another DD location and found the same arrangement.  Notice that Hui-chen is holding a tray and a pair of tongs for grabbing the donuts.  The trays are bare, with no paper covering on them, per Taiwan usual operating procedure.  We’ve been to many places where you’re expected to put your clean food on a bare tray and it makes no sense.  But that’s how it’s done here in Taiwan.

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

If you look closely you’ll notice that there are several varieties of donuts that are not offered in the US stores, such as these “love donuts” shaped like hearts.

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

In fact, the vast majority of donuts offered are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the US.  Let’s take a closer look at what we bought:

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

When you bring your bare tray of donuts to the checkout counter, the sales person will wrap each donut in a piece of tissue paper.  It seems wasteful and unnecessary, because the tissue paper wasn’t used to handle the donut as it is in the US.

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

The odd shaped donut on the right is some kind of a ring, but I forgot what they called it.  I’d never seen it before I visited a Dunkin’ Donuts in Taiwan.  The donut on the left is a strawberry-blueberry combination.  The icing on the top was rather thick.

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

The blueberry jelly filling seemed a bit sparce.

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

This is a bowtie donut, and except for the chocolate and vanilla laces on it, the bowtie was pretty much what you would expect by the looks of it.  Basically a glazed donut.

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

This was one of the few types of donuts that you can also get in the US – the blueberry cake donut.

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

This blueberry cake donut is almost exactly the same as it’s US counterpart, with one noticeable exception.  In fact, all the donuts were exceptional in this regard: the sugar content was significantly reduced!  While I liked Dunkin’ Donuts in the US, I always felt that the products were too sweet.  I often ordered coffee drinks with no sugar in them.  The Taiwanese Dunkin’ Donuts have adjusted their recipes to suit local tastes, and that means less sweetness.  Personally I thought the products tasted just fine and the difference in sugar in the US products is unnecessary.  I wish the US products were made like these, with less sugar.  I’m sure it would benefit the health of the patrons!

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan

This is our last shot – my drink.  A caramel/coffee concoction, I thought that this reduced sugar product was every bit as good as anything I’ve had in the USA.

So, if you’re in the mood for donuts you can drop into your local Dunkin’ Donuts here in Taiwan, secure in the knowledge that their products feature reduced sugar!

UPDATE: 2010, 10, 07:

Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan, Update

Hui-chen and I visited the Hsinchu Dunkin’ Donuts located in the basement of the Sogo building in the downtown area.  We found that their trays all had paper liners on them (mobile phone photo above).  Upon seeing this, Hui-chen’s memory was jogged and she remembered seeing signs in Kaohsiung that paper tray liners were available, but patrons had to ask for them.

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40 comments

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  2. That oddly-shaped ring is called a pon de ring at Mister Donut. I’m not sure if it would be called the same at Dunkin Donuts or not. I admit that I like the super sweet donuts from Krispy Kreme, but I always bristle a little when locals tell me that Americans are the ones with the sweet tooth. I think Americans and Taiwanese just expect different things to be sweet. As an American, I like sweet donuts and desserts (I can’t stand the whipped cream frosting on the cakes here), but I hate all the sweet bread and coffee here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get some unsweetened coffee or tea, and it comes with a ton of sugar in it. Sometimes there isn’t even the option of getting it unsweetened because it’s premixed with a lot of sugar. Starbucks is the only coffee place around here where I don’t always have to remember to say “Bu yao jia tang” if I don’t want my coffee to come full of syrupy yuck. This has just been my experience in Taiwan. Maybe I’m crazy!

    1. hi Cahleen. the donut is called some kind of a ring for sure, but as i recall, it was something i’ve never heard of before – i just can’t remember what it is! btw, in the US, Dunkin Donuts bought Mr. Donut and they are in the process of converting all the stores over to DDs. i have no idea how that’s going to work here in Taiwan. i admit that i do like Krispy Kreme, and we visited one in the US – it was HC’s first time there. we’re going to write about it in upcoming installments of our US trip series. i agree they are too sweet but we didn’t eat that many of them.

      Thais like incredibly sweet foods, and Pepsi is much more popular in Thailand than Coke because of it being sweet. Being a confirmed Starbucks disliker, i have little experienced to draw upon when talking about them. i found Starbucks products to be mediocre and over priced, and i absolutely cannot stand the burnt flavor of their coffee. i wonder why people like them so much? it must just be me because they are quite popular. i think maybe Taiwanese like Starbucks for the same reason they like Heineken though – not because it’s good, but because it’s imported and expensive and “supposed” to be good. normally i’m not a coffee drinker though. i might have one, once a year or even less. i drink mostly tea and i can get that without sugar in any tea shop.

      you’re not crazy! lol thanks Cahleen

  3. Cahleen mentioned that Americans and Taiwanese just expect different things to be sweet, e.g., she hated the sweet bread and coffee. It was an interesting concept for me, because I am one of the Taiwanese that think Americans have the sweet tooth. After a little thinking, I still maintain that “Americans are the ones with the sweet tooth”. For most Taiwanese, the sweetness of a lot of American desserts is so sweet that it is almost impossible to swallow. It is similar to the experience of eating salty foods when there is way too much salt. I guess the sweet bread or coffee is just not to the taste of Cahleen or Americans, instead of being unbearably sweet. Am I correct?

    1. hi Gualaila, thanks for your comments. i think that most sweets in the US are overly sweet, and i prefer what’s available in Taiwan with regard to cakes, etc. i’ve never had those Taiwanese sweet breads and i don’t drink coffee generally so i’ve never run across the sweet coffee here either. to each his own i say, and i’m not going to point fingers, lol!

  4. Geeee… it would be nice if the Dunkin Donuts here in the USA would have their donut cases out in front and angled like that for self-serve. Looks like they have a lot more different types there to choose from. Here… Dunkin Donuts use to have a lot of different donuts to choose from… but once they started to sell bagels and so on… they like cut the different types of donuts they sell in half to make room for the bagels. They have “special” donuts at various times of the year (like a pumpkin donut or apple donut at this time of the year).

    I’ve only had Krispy Kreme donuts once. I tried them at the airport in Omaha, Nebraska and I didn’t really care for them. Krispy Kreme opened who knows how many places here in the Boston area… but they’ve all closed (I think the closest Krispy Kreme to the Boston area is at Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun). I guess they just couldn’t compete with Dunkin Donuts in the Northeast USA. The Krispy Kreme that was in Saugus is now a bank… the Krispy Kreme that was in Medford is now a Kelly’s Roast Beef.

    How is the coffee at the Dunkin Donuts comepared to here in the USA???

    Also… as for your dislike of Starbucks… even tho they are lots of cities and towns around here… still no starbucks in Lynn 🙂 There are like 12 Dunkin Donuts in this city tho.
    mike01905´s last post ..Telecsope at High Rock Tower in Lynn- MA

    1. hi Mike. i do remember quite a few DD stores in Lynn back in the day. the only Krispy Kreme store we saw in the USA was in Greensboro, NC. the coffee in the Taiwan store was pretty good and didn’t have that burnt taste that they all seem to have (copying Starbucks). it was not unlike the coffee in the US, and the sugar content was lower too as far as i could tell. i never ate the bagels in DD and i resented them taking up so much room. sometimes my favorite donuts weren’t available because of that. thanks Mike.

      1. I’m guessing that in Taiwan (as with most of the USA)… if you order a “regular” coffee… its served black. I think only in New England that a regular coffee is “cream and two sugars”.

        When I tried Krispy Kreme out in Nebraska… those donuts were way to sweet for me. I think Krispy Kreme only lasted in the Boston area for like 2 or 3 years before they shut down.

        Since the addition of bagels, scones, muffins, and so on… a Dunkin Donuts may be lucky to have 20 to 25 donut flavors on their shelves. Before that time… they would have 40 to 50 different donut flavors available.
        mike01905´s last post ..Telecsope at High Rock Tower in Lynn- MA

        1. sorry Mike, but no one would say “regular” coffee here, because it wouldn’t mean anything to the hearer. in Chinese you would have to specify how you want your coffee and what size cup. i remember visiting NJ and hearing people ask for “coffee, light and sweet” and comparing that to hearing “large regular” in New England. every place is different. i’m with you on the variety of donuts being cut down because of the other offerings. i personally preferred the donuts to everything else but that’s just me. thanks Mike.

  5. Yes, Dunkin Donuts – one of the first establishments I was introduced to when landed in Rhode Island many moons ago. After grocery shopping at A&P and some cheap stuff at Woolworth, we would go get a dozen from Dunkin Donuts. Now 27 years and 25 lbs later (20 of it from DD, 5 lbs credited to New England clam chowder), the thought of white cream filled still makes my mouth watering. The stores didn’t quite make it to California, but all the way to the other side of the ocean. Good idea to reduce sugar but still lots of calories. Just wash down two cream filled with 500cc of boba milk tea gives you enough to tackle one full mountain stage at Tour de France without refueling.

    1. hi SSF, welcome and thanks for your comments. i’ve packed on a few lbs myself due to DDs back when i lived in New England. it certainly is easy to do. i know what you mean about the calories – they seem to stay with you for awhile. thanks SSF.

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  7. The donuts look delicious. I have not had a Dunkin Donut in at least a decade, or more. Hazards of island living-limited stores. I like less sugar in my sweets too. I enjoyed the little cakes and cookies Peichi used to send me from Taiwan.
    Keep up the food articles. I am enjoying them.

    1. hi Carolyn. i’m sure you’re probably better off (and thinner) for not being close to a Dunkin Donuts store, although i certainly have no regrets after eating them all those years. we have a few more food articles coming up, including a visit to a Krispy Kreme donut shop later on in our 2010 USA series. thanks Carolyn.

  8. Hey MJ, Interesting story and follow up comments. I would LOVE less sugar in DD doughnuts. As it is I do not eat them, way too many calories. I simply cannot see the need in eating that many calories in a 5 minute period on something that does not even really taste all that good. Rarely I will order a coffee, get it with milk, not creme, and add sugar substitute to it.
    I am another person who would like so see DD turn into a more self service type of place as another commenter had mentioned as well. I feel that would actually sell more doughnuts. And heck, a little more variety would be nice!
    You however seemed to be enjoying some doughnuts there lol. I am glad they have less sugar I would have hated to have seen your blood sugar after that afternoon snack. Don’t forget to take a break from those doughnuts and have an apple, orange or a banana every once in a while!!

    1. hi Danielle. for some reason i neglected to reply to your comment, and for that, i apologize! i’m with you on the less sugar aspect. i’m grateful that the Taiwan market demands less sugar. i’m sure they still have too many calories but i wouldn’t eat them every day, though! the self-service aspect is OK here in Taiwan but i think it would be out of control in the US with so many people standing in line…. but maybe i’m wrong; who knows? we don’t have the bagels and muffins and other stuff that pushed the donuts out of the case back in the States. but it might happen here also. for the time being we are enjoying some good donuts and in many varieties that you cannot get in the USA. thanks Danielle!

  9. Always sad to see new unhealthy franchises moving into Taiwan. I am guilty of visiting them too but it saddens me to see these franchises moving here. I saw a Baskin Robbins ice cream store in the Taipei Main Station the other day. First one I have seen in Taiwan I think. I am convinced that Taiwanese people have gotten bigger in the 12 years I have been here. The growth of McDonalds/Burger King and Just Donut here in Taiwan is not good. Hopefully Taiwanese people do no pick up too many of the Wests bad eating habits – would be very sad. I myself and trying to adopt a healthier eastern diet.

    Thanks for the interesting article as always.
    Paul´s last post ..Beijing August- Late Planes and Broken Tooth

    1. hi Paul. i’ve thought about that myself. at least the DDs here does feature reduced sugar donuts. i didn’t get that over sugared feeling that i sometimes got in the US when i ate there. you are definitely right though – the eating habits of Taiwanese have changed and the people are changing as a result of it. thanks Paul.

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  14. Unfortunately, the Dunkin Donuts in Taichung (not far from the Chungyo Department Store) doesn’t seem to be doing very well. When it first opened, it had a very large seating area, but that has since been cut back to just a handful of chairs and tables.
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    1. Jim i wonder if that’s a direct reflection on how the place is doing, or on the ratio of people who carry out the food rather than eating it there?

  15. I was amazed the first time I saw a Dunkin Donuts shop in Hsinchu. I’m still surprised by all the pastry shops I find in Taiwan.

    1. hi Rhonda. i was surprised at seeing them myself. have you tried DDs in Taiwan? a lot less sugar in the Taiwan version donuts than in the USA. the coffee drinks are good too. thanks and take care.

  16. Dunkin’ has done a bit of re-ordering in Taiwan. They closed up shop in Danshui, even though they seemed to be doing great business there. Their shop was at the station, right across from Mister Donut. Every time we went by or stopped in, they had a full house. I’m guessing they were edged out by a greedy landlord.

    They also re-shifted by Taipei Train Station. They are no longer in the hotel (I can’t remember the name of it, but it used to be the Hilton). Now, they are in the department store next door, and the Taipei Bus Station adjacent to Taipei Main. Donuts seem to be a tough business here in Taiwan.

    I love their coffee and tuna bagels.

  17. Hello there,

    I never heard of mochi ring doughnuts until I stumbled upon your blog. I am starting a Facebook fan page (more like a petition page) to bring mochi ring doughnuts to the Philippines. We love mochi and we love dunkin donuts and it’s only right 😛

    I was wondering, may I have your permission to use on of your photos on my fan page? I will give credit and link back to your page. Thank you! You can contact me at the email I used to comment.

    Cheers!

    –Meg

    1. hi Meg. i hope you can bring mochi rings to the Philippines! they are pretty good and i’ve never heard of them before. one of our readers told us that they are from Japan.

      you may use whatever photos you like as long as you credit them. links would be appreciated! thanks.

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