Cafe Dulce gets plenty of attention for its pourover LAMILL coffee but rarely does a place with such refined and precious caffeine offerings (we're big fans of the cold-brewed ice coffee), deign to try its hand at something as pedestrian as a doughnut. Located in the center of Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo, Cafe Dulce boasts hot dogs encased in cheese-encrusted rolls of dough, maple-glazed donuts studded with generous macadamia chunks and a bacon doughnut that is, unlike so many others, more hope than hype. It also does a credible Korean cheesesteak.
Years ago, before Kogi became a household word, we dreamed of opening a Korean sub sandwich shack called the Kim Jong Grill. (Damn you, Roy Choi, for "stealing" our thunder.) Cafe Dulce has done us one better, actually making a Korean cheesesteak. Their version of galbi is reassuringly spicy and very sweet, layered on a soft baguette with mild kimchi notable more for its crunch than its briny tartness. Melted provolone gives credence to the "cheesesteak" part of this sandwich's name. Aside from the Korean sub, Cafe Dulce's sandwich menu is fairly ordinary. Their housemade pastries are not.
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It's hard to choose a favorite doughnut at Cafe Dulce. There's an airy glazed doughnut sprinkled with thinly sliced bacon bits. They're salty without overpowering the pastry, and the dough is fresh and soft. Another iteration finds rich maple anchored by nutty macadamias. The most original, however, is a doughnut made from subtly green tea-flavored dough sprinkled with black sesames and filled with rich custard. There's nothing pedestrian about that.
Elina Shatkin is a staff writer at LA Weekly. Follow her at @elinashatkin or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.