I love desserts. That’s it. Can’t live without them. It is a curse bestowed upon me since I was a baby (or that is my excuse for eating them). When I heard about this unique donuts shop, said to be “NYC’s most creative doughnuts,” I had to go pay a visit.
The “creative” part is not only its donuts creations, but also where they are located. With limited retail space in NYC, chef Scott Levine decided to open his artisanal donut shop inside a car wash. Yes, you read it correctly, a car wash.
The car wash is actually not easy to get to, if you are going there with your car to get it washed. Since we were going there JUST for those donuts, we went there by subway, and it was closed to 20 min walk from the subway station. I was hoping this place would live up to my high expectations… We walked in from the side entrance, which is the closed entrance to the donuts shop. You can enter from the “main” entrance for people who are actually going there to get there car washed. In this case, they can come through the car wash store, where they sell car fresheners and such, the donuts shop is located after you pass the car wash store.
When we entered, we were officially surprised to see that they really are INSIDE the car wash!!! It was so cool to see donuts on our left, and car getting washed on the right (divided by a thick window, of course).
Since it is nested inside the car wash, the space they have is pretty small. I mean, really small. And yet, there are those who comes in with their baby stroller… Since the space is barely enough to pass someone without any stroller, you can imagine how unreasonable it could be for someone to come in with a stroller… but that is life, I guess. We can not deny baby mamas and papas of these delicious donuts, can we? (Unless they take the last donuts on the shelf before you can get to it.) There was only one staff there, and you see what they have left on the shelf behind her. They are open until either 3pm or 5pm, depends on the day. We went on Sunday around 2:30pm, and they close at 3pm on Sundays. They already ran out of few of the flavors, so we got one of every flavors that they got left. Actually, the person in front us took the last Mocha donut, which I was so sad about…
They offer decadent donuts with creative icing flavors, and an old-fashion coated in flavored sugars. They have the donuts with icings on top shelf, and the old-fashion on the counter. I didn’t realize that the sugar coated ones are made to order. When you pick one flavor, they toss the old-fashion donut in the container with the flavored sugar in it, and voilà! There is your sugar coated donuts!
So, the ones that they had left were: Halva, Passion Fruit, Car Wash, and one Old-Fashion. We decided to get the Old-Fashion tossed in the Coco Raspberry. I believe there were 3 other icing flavors that we missed out on. The glazed donuts are $3 each, and sugar coated ones are $2.25 each. Not cheap for donuts, but its the creativity and quality that speaks loud here.
Halva is dense, flaky, sweet, tahini based confections of Arabic origin. I am not sure if I have ever had halva before, but it was interesting. It is made from tahini (sesame paste), other nut butters, so it has that nutty flavor. The primary ingredients are nut butter and sugar, making it a sweet nutty glazed donut. They are “cake donuts” so it does taste like eating cake, nicely moist and yet fluffy. They are freshly fried on-site everyday, the way they should be. Passion Fruit one was nice too, it had nice distinct flavor of passion fruit, and topped with crispy chocolate bits, which gave extra texture and flavor to the donut.
The Car Wash was a vanilla and lavender glazed donut, and you can see the vanilla bean in the icing, which is awesome. They use the real vanilla here, not just the “flavoring” of the vanilla. The lavender gave a nice aromatic scent, not overpowering. The Coco Raspberry was nice, you get to appreciate the fresh donut before it get coated in icing. It was airy and fluffy, at the same time dense and moist. The sugar flavor was nice too, I am not sure about the “coco” part, I didn’t really taste it, but the raspberry flavor was pretty good.
So, they did live up to my high expectation, and delivered what we wanted them to deliver; high quality, tasty donuts. I would say it is a very delicious reason to visit the 70-year-old car wash, and yes, the a bit long walk from the subway station, but it is totally worth it. Besides, you would want to walk off the calories… The only thing is that they do not have any tables or chairs. They have 1 bench right outside, but that is it. But, you can take a walk over to a park, pier, river walk, or even High Line if you don’t mind walking 15 – 20 minutes from there. I would definitely want to go back there for more, and go there earlier in the day so that I can try all the other flavors before they sell out of them. So, next time your car needs a wash, you might want to head over to this location, and have a donut (or two or three) while you wait for your car to get clean!
Underwest Donuts – 638 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036