From cookies at Hello, Robin, to cupcakes from Cupcake Royale, to ice cream at Molly Moon’s, Seattle has its fair share of delectable sweets. Some of it can get pretty pricey ($11 for a molten chocolate cake at Hot Cakes!), but local sweet tooths know it’s worth the money for such delightful desserts.
Doughnuts have now entered the ranks of the upscale Seattle dessert scene. This deep-fried, sugary snack is often associated with mornings at the office or a post-church refreshment, but they are here to claim their stake in Seattle’s sweet scene, and one place doing that successfully is Dochi, in the Chinatown International District.
The doughnut shop is the brainchild of Jason Le, who says he got his inspiration during a trip to Japan. While there, Le tried his first mochi doughnut, and although he doesn’t even like doughnuts, he knew what he was eating was special.
He decided to open a location in Washington with his Seattle-based brother, Michael, who owns goPoké, also located in the Chinatown International District.
Dochi’s storefront is a small stand, located in the northwest entrance of Uwajimaya, just big enough to fit a few employees, trays of doughnuts and boxes stacked atop each other, almost 6 feet high. Doughnuts are made fresh every day in a kitchen located a few stalls down within the Uwajimaya food court.
Since opening in August, Le says they’ve had huge success. On opening day, the line stretched all the way down the block.
He says they usually sell out by the end of the day, and plan to eventually extend their hours beyond their Thursday-Sunday afternoons to cater to wider audiences.
I went to Dochi on a Friday afternoon, a few minutes after it opened at 11 a.m., and while I only had to wait in a five-minute line, there was still a constant stream of traffic despite it being a weekday.
Dochi doughnuts sell for $3 each, or $16 for a half dozen. This is by no means cheap compared to your average “bring to the office every Friday” doughnuts, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare it as such. Dochi doughnuts are a “treat yourself” kind of dessert, and if you ever try one, you’ll understand why.
Dochi’s doughnut boxes feel reminiscent of Tiffany’s jewelry boxes: smooth and mint-green, carrying beautiful cargo inside. The doughnuts are handmade and decorated, each looking good enough to eat, but also to take a few pictures of first. When I visited, I encountered a few food vloggers documenting their Dochi taste tests.
Initially, they taste pretty similar to a regular doughnut — doughy, slightly greasy and lightly sweet. But the real joy is the texture. To emulate the chewiness of mochi, Dochi doughnuts use rice flour, which adds a glutinous texture, making it lighter and bouncier than a regular doughnut. They’re also shaped into connected bite-sized pieces, perfect for breaking off and/or sharing.
Depending on the day, Dochi carries five to six different flavors. Le says they try to introduce a new flavor each week, typically soliciting suggestions from customers and their followers on Instagram. During my visit, they carried five flavors: ube bae, coconut caramel, ube glazed, chocolate almond and matcha Oreos.
My favorites were the ube doughnuts: These two had ube in the dough as well, giving them a purple hue. While the ube glazed had a light sugar glaze versus the ube that had a thicker ube frosting and cookie crumbles sprinkled on top, they were both minimally sweet.
I found the caramel on top of the coconut caramel to be too sugary and overpowering: imagine the stickiness of a Girl Scout Samoa cookie atop a doughnut.
Le says that they plan to introduce some holiday-themed flavors in the upcoming months. For Halloween, they stuck to previous flavors, but decorated their doughnuts with slime-colored frosting and sugar googly eyes.
Inscribed on the inside of every Dochi box is the phrase, “What are you waiting for? You deserve this.” I’d say I agree, everyone deserves to treat themselves once in a while.
Correction: The story has been updated with the correct spelling of Jason Le’s name.