Donut-By-Donut: The 2017 Sufganiya Showdown

After our announced Sufganiya tasting, our Delicious Guide Ilana Butrimovitz was inspired to chime in to give a more specific rundown of her tasting experience - donut-by-donut! Here is the mouth watering story.

During my first Hanukkah in Israel, I remember I was at a party and someone asked me why I recently moved to Israel from San Francisco. Half jokingly I said, because our sufganiyot just don’t compare. I am pretty sure my mouth literally dropped like a kid in a candy store when I saw billions of different types of incredibly extravagant over the top sufganiyot in every window shop in town.

A few nights later I got invited to my Israeli relative's house for another party and was asked to bring sufganiyot. I was so excited because I had been waiting for the opportunity to go into one of these bakeries and pick out a bunch of their incredible looking flavors. However, being new the country I didn’t want to look out of place. So, before I went I asked my relative if she had any specific flavors in mind that I should get. Turns out she did, very specific. She gave me very clear instructions - “go to Allenby 88, you will find a place called Rinat’s, just pick up a dozen.” As I headed to Rinat’s I was very excited thinking, ‘Oh amazing, maybe this will be a place that is even better than the fancy shop I had my eye on. Score! I got the local Israeli inside scoop!’ However, as I enter into Rinat’s it was not at all what I was expecting. The dim lit little bakery had a few older people having coffee and playing card games, was ‘decorated’ with peeling paint on the wall, and a few very sad looking trays of plain jelly sufganiyot . I was confused and disappointed, but was asked to get them, so I went with it.

Now, 7 years later, I finally understand what my aunt sees in Rinat’s sufganiyot.

As a food tour guide, everyone and their mom (literally) has been asking my opinion on where to find the best sufganiya in the city. So much pressure! I felt as if it was my duty to give as thorough a report as possible, and I had no choice but to eat as many sufganiyot as humanly possible. (It is really a high pressure job sometimes!) After a few weeks of intensive research by Inbal and myself, followed by carefully mapping out our pick-up route to maximize freshness, The 2017 Sufgania Tasting Extravaganza was underway.

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Read on for the official results. Spoiler alert: Rinat fared decently on the list.

(1) Cookies and Cream (/Oreo) by HaMa'afia

This was by far the winner because it hit all of the checkboxes in my book: beautiful and simple presentation, and the high quality dough and filling. The dough was a bit chewy (but not overly chewy). The chewiness factor was great because it meant that it was not dry at all. The Oreo cream had all the right tones - light, not too sweet, and they added their own special touch with a hit of coconut. Allenby 88

(2) “Green Queen” by Roladin

Roladin for the win! (one of those fancy bakeries I was drooling over that first Hanukkah). Covered and filled with a pistachio white chocolate cream that was heavenly. Not very strong on the pistachio flavor, but you can’t go wrong with white chocolate. Topped with a candied almond crunch and dollops of mascarpone cream. The sufgania dough was very fresh, which is impressive considering how many they make. We were very skeptical about Roladin because they are approx 500 shekels per sufgania, but turns out the hype is legit.

(3) “Kaztefet” by Roladin

Whipped cream with a belgian chocolate topping and filling from Roladin. Roladin for the win again! Very simple, but the chocolate was great quality.

(4) Vegan traditional filled with raspberry jam from Cafe Xoho

Hard to really compare this to the rest on the list because it was very different, and to be honest, we were more than a bit skeptical, (how can you make such an intensely fried food like this healthy and vegan?!) but it was actually super tasty. It had a much unique lighter consistency (which was refreshing amongst all the heavy oily and sugary ones), with a hit of spice at the end. Super fresh and full of flavor.

(5) Traditional Jelly from Rinats

This place has been around for 55 years, for a good reason. Not sure what more to say then it tasted like Hanukkah! Perfectly fried, light and fluffy dough, traditional jelly filling. Allenby 57

(6) “The S’mores Sufgania” from Showroom Bakehouse

We were really excited about this place because of the unique sounding flavors and the Instagram-friendly presentation of the sufganiyot. However, I was a bit disappointed. The chocolate inside was actually pretty tasty, but the dough itself tasted like stale challah (the kind you might make challah french toast with or toss it). Big no no. Malkhei Israel 11, and a pop-up stand at the Sarona Market

7) “The Waffle Sufgania” filled with nutella from Showroom Bakehouse

See above, same review. You can't go wrong with nutella, but the dough and waffle on top were very dry.

8) “YOLO” (you only live once) from Roladin.

I give them credit for the name and presentation, however with all the gold and sparkles, in the end it really just tasted like an overly sweet peanut butter doughnut. Again, because it was Roladin, the dough was great, but the peanut butter flavor just was too overpowering.The best part about this one is that I taught this Yemenite lady we take people to on food tours the meaning of YOLO- she loved it.

9) Creme Patissiere from Lachmenina

So dry and cost 8 shekels! Nothing to write home about. Not even anything interesting to add. Marmorek 4

10) Halvah sufganiya from Hashachen

To be honest, I felt so nauseous and full after trying 9 sufganiot that I did not get to this. However, a trusted taster said it was not great. Ibn Gvirol 8