PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Lisa Nguyen joined the doughnut game later than most, but it turned out the timing for her life — and her fans — is just right.
She started HeyDay Doughnuts just months after the pandemic began. Now, Nguyen’s mochi doughnut pop-up shops have had fans following her trail on Instagram ever since.
“People call us ‘mochi doughnuts’ (I won’t correct you or give you a hard time about it hehe ) but I call them doughnuts that have rice flour that gives you a chewy consistency,” she posted on her Instagram account.
“I think people in Portland want to put their money where they want to support something bigger than just a product,” Nguyen recently told KOIN 6 News. “The product is that the end, like the bonus, but they really want to support the people that are doing it. And we would just want to stay true to that.”
Staying true to the phrase that she’s “bridging culture and community 1 doughnut at a time,” Nguyen is serving up chewy, soft and sweet pastries that draw inspiration from all around.
“I mean, we lived in Singapore for a couple of years and so we did a lot of travel around Asia. And so a lot of it is inspired by things that we’ve tried, things that I grew up on, things that my kids love,” she said. “And I always want to kind of introduce people to new flavors and things.”
On the day she spoke with KOIN 6 News, HeyDay was set up inside the Collective Oregon Eateries (CORE PDX) in Southeast Portland. The flavors of the day included black sesame, ca phe sua (Vietnamese coffee), Ube and baked apple.
“I feel like the doughnut is such an American thing but in every culture, in every country, there’s a fried dough of some sort. Right?”
Fans find the wait in line is well worth it.
Nguyen decided to go into doughnuts at a later point than most people.
“I was in my late 30s when we decided to do this. And now I’m 42,” she said. “But I think that starting older was a benefit for me. I’ve kind of learned to, like, pace myself, not overdo it.”
Maturity and motherhood help shape her priorities.
“My kids are always going to be first. And so I can’t do a pop-up if they have a soccer game that day, you know? So I can plan my pop-ups at this time to work with my family’s lifestyle,” she said.
HeyDay is also a family tribute to her late father.
“This was created because of a memory with my dad,” she said. “We’d do doughnuts every Sunday.”
Her memories are infused in the doughnuts and in the name.
“My husband came up with, like, ‘heyday, back in the day,’ you know?” she said. “So that was it. It was like a throwback.”
HeyDay will soon have a permanent home in CORE PDX, possibly in Spring 2022.
“If I can fry a dough that reminds you of your childhood,” she said, “then I’ve succeeded.”