For years, we’ve obsessed over pon de ring donuts, those soft, chewy, lovely mochi donuts that look like oversized bead bracelets. We’ve carried boxes and boxes of them home from Japan. One time, while waiting for my flight back to Manila, I found them at an airport in a random city and I literally emptied my pockets and spent the last of my dollars on yet another box of those donuts. I can’t remember the city but I can remember the donuts. They were good.
During particularly long donut droughts, we turned to one another and sighed. “Why don’t we have pon de ring donuts in Manila?” One time, we became so desperate that we actually started Googling for recipes. No luck.
But donut dreams do come true, thanks to wife-and-husband team Michelle and Andrew Que. The couple got hooked on pon de ring donuts on their annual visits to Taiwan and decided to make them available here in the Philippines. “We used to bring them home but they turned soggy and were not as good as they were in Taiwan.”
They started making their own pon de rings and selling them at Mercato Centrale in December. “We wanted to see if there was a market for these chewy donuts in the Philippines,” said Andrew. They named their brand Gavino’s Donuts after their son who was named after Andrew’s father Gary and grandfather Vicente.
The donuts were a huge hit, disappearing quickly from their booth at the weekend market. “When people tried the donuts, they were surprised and delighted at the texture. Almost all of them bought boxes for their families and friends to try and they kept coming back,” said Andrew.
It’s no big surprise people love them–Gavino’s Donuts offers a different donut experience. “You will immediately notice the difference once you take a bite. It’s chewy and not as sweet as other donuts.”
After the holidays, Michelle and Andrew decided to open their flagship store. They serve a number of different flavors—the result of research and endless taste tests done with the help of their families. They offer pon de rings (Plain Glazed, Choco Glazed, Green Tea Glazed, Choco Crunch, Choco Sprinkle, Strawberry Sprinkle, Vanilla Sprinkle, Cookies and Cream, Nutty Choco), premium pon de rings (M&Ms, Strawberry Gummy, Choco Almond, Ensaymada, Green Tea Cheesecake, Triple Chocolate) and pon de balls, which are donut balls with filling (Bavarian, Strawberry, Chocolate, Green Tea). The glazed variants became a quick favorite of their customers. “Those who like their donuts a little less sweet like Choco Almond, Ensaymada and Cookies and Cream. There’s also a niche market for the green tea donuts. People who love cream-filled donuts love our Pon De Balls.”
Michelle and Andrew plan to come out with more flavors like taro and strawberry. And soon, you might be able to come up with your own donut flavors. “We want to hold contests and ask customers to suggest new flavors,” said Andrew.
Michelle and Andrew, whose personal favorites are the Choco Almond and the Green Tea Cheesecake, recommend first-timers to try the glazed donuts. “Actually, the best for us is when the donut is fresh out of the fryer without any finishing on it. The donut is still very crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Sometimes customers can get a taste of these in the store where the donuts are freshly made.”
You can enjoy their donuts with Gavino’s coffee creations. “We are very particular with the coffee beans we use since we are both serious coffee drinkers. We currently use Brazilian coffee beans for our brewed and espresso-based drinks. If you want strong coffee that’s full of flavor, you should try the Gavino’s signature blend. We will also be serving milk tea soon.”
The couple has big plans for Gavino’s. “There have been inquiries about franchising already but for now we want to make sure the quality is maintained and operations are smooth before expanding.”
For now, donut magic happens at Gavino’s on Granada Street in Quezon City, where the pon de rings are so good they sometimes sell out long before closing time.
Gavino’s Donuts is located at Unit 5 Greenhills Town Center No. 2 Granada Street Quezon City. Gavino is open from noon to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 12 midnight on weekends.