By Frank Sabatini Jr.
The kitchen hood is installed. A dough mixer, deep fryers and cooling racks are due any day. And the recipes that will spawn some of San Diego’s most far-out donut flavors have been fine-tuned and taste-tested in preparation for an early-November opening of Nomad Donuts at 4504 30th St. in North Park.
The upcoming venture is being launched by surf buddies Brad Keiller and Cameron Corley, who formed a customer-bartender friendship when Corley was mixing drinks at Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant in Kensington.
After securing an 850-square-foot space that was formerly a tattoo shop, the duo hired pastry chef Kristianna Zabala of Bertrand at Mister A’s, who will move over to Nomad to construct donuts that defy what consumers typically dunk into their coffee.
Think tom ka soup when chomping into a Thai-inspired donut made with traditional yeast dough, but sporting an unexpected glaze of lemon grass, coconut milk, ginger, chilies and basil.
“Kristianna made them for us in the interview process and we were blown away,” said Corley, who holds fond memories of eating apple fritters and old fashion donuts at Rudy’s Donut House with his grandparents when visiting them as a kid in the Bay Area.
“I don’t think there’s a donut that I don’t like, which is why I’m opening up a donut shop,” he added.
Keiller, who left the software industry to co-start the business, recalled that he came to appreciate “donuts of all kinds” as a young adult while working with his father in carpentry.
“There were a lot of coffee-and-donut breaks, and I took on an appreciation for the quality ones,” he said.
Blending sweet and savory ingredients, he added, should give Nomad a competitive edge on a section of 30th Street void of competition. At the very least, it’s what attracted Zabala to the job.
“I like donuts because — who doesn’t like fried dough?” Zabala said. “But what’s kept me from buying them regularly is the fact that they’re always so overly sweet. But this was right up my alley because it’s a chance to change the perception of donuts as always being so sugary.”
Also in the pipeline is a “caprese” donut filled with tomato-strawberry jam and topped with basil glaze and balsamic drizzles. Another will feature a filling of roasted pineapple complimented by panang curry glaze.
Everyday fritters will take on new life as well, with figs replacing the customary apples along with the additions of smoked bacon, rosemary and goat cheese implanting further dimension.
Yet for those who don’t care for herbs and curries interfering with their sugar intakes, the rotating selection will encompass flavors such as cinnamon-pear and spiced chocolate as well as a few traditional varieties catering to old-school palates. Biscotti and coffee drinks using beans roasted by Zumbar Coffee & Tea in Sorrento Valley will also be in the offing.
Donut prices will range from $2 to $5 apiece, depending on the flavor. They’ll be available by the dozen as well.
“Right now we have about a dozen specialty flavors. Other recipes are waiting to be born,” added Corley, assuring that the donuts “will be pulled directly from the cooling racks and won’t be sitting around long after they’re cooked.”
The daily selections will appear in a pastry case used for display only. A few indoor tables will eventually extend to sidewalk seating as the team hopes to offer late-night service on Fridays and Saturdays.
“We want people to be happy about what they’re getting while at the same time being surprised by prosciutto on a donut, which will be a reality at Nomad,” said Corley.
For more information, call 619-431-5000 or visit nomaddonuts.com.
—Contact Frank Sabatini Jr. at email@example.com.