Three years ago, in May 2020, Lisa Nguyen started selling springy, wheat and glutinous rice flour doughnuts as a pandemic-era pop-up, an homage to both the mochi doughnuts she first tried in Japan and the Vietnamese sweets she ate growing up. That bouncy texture, often the product of tapioca or glutinous rice flour, has been a nostalgic comfort of hers; it turns out, that was true for a group of loyal regulars, who followed Nguyen to Heyday pop-ups across the city. Countless Portlanders fell in love with that balance of resistance and give in Nguyen’s doughnuts, which came in fun flavors like animal cookie and Vietnamese coffee.
Next week, after years of anticipation, Nguyen will open her own doughnut counter in the Collective Oregon Eateries (CORE) building, a food-hall-esque space next to the food cart pod of the same name. Heyday will sell her popular wheat and rice flour doughnuts, as well as things like fried milk bread Danishes, green onion drop biscuits, and bear-shaped cake doughnuts.
Heyday’s flavors change seasonally, so those who have been following Nguyen for years will see longstanding favorites roll in and out over time: pandan, baked ube, cinnamon sugar. Currently, Nguyen is waiting to see which local berries are going to come into season when the shop opens, which she will incorporate into specific flavors.
With more kitchen space, however, Nugyen also wants to expand her offerings. She has been playing with her milk bread dough, which she uses for doughnuts, black sesame rolls, and Danishes. The doughnut lands somewhere between a glazed raised and a brioche, with the combination of glutinous rice flour and tapioca adding a bit of that classic chew. The latter will also rotate with seasonal fruit — she’s particularly excited about the premise of a fresh strawberry-cream cheese Danish, for instance — as well as combinations like guava-cream cheese. “I don’t personally love filled doughnuts, but I love Danishes,” she says. Morning pastry service will also involve coffee and espresso from Portland Ca Phe, Aesthete teas, and Diaspora chai.
Down the line, Heyday will also introduce rice flour waffles and fun marshmallows for winter hot chocolate. Another fun project: on a monthly basis, Heyday will begin offering dessert service at night as a collaboration with the carts, focusing on desserts outside of Heyday’s typical canon: panna cotta, creme brulee. The idea is to build community with the other vendors at Heyday, but also the local community near 82nd.
“Our clientele and customers are in this area, they’ve just come to us when we’ve popped up,” Nguyen says. “In the last three years, we’ve learned to stay true to what we want, what we’re good at, as opposed to just doing what’s popular. ... And we have the best customers — they’re excited when we sell out.”
Heyday is loyal to its roots as a pop-up, and will continue to do markets and events; Nguyen also wants to return the favor, hosting new businesses in the space on the days Heyday is closed. And to celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, May 27, Nguyen will host her own market inside CORE, featuring folks who have collaborated with or supported Heyday since its early days.
Heyday will open within CORE, at 3612 SE 82nd Avenue.