Craving a warm, gooey doughnut? Look no further: Uncle Neo’s is the perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth. Uncle Neo’s is an online kitchen especially catered towards doughnuts run by a foodie with an immense passion for doughnuts, Neomal Liyanage.
We at Brunch caught up with Neomal, fondly known as “Uncle Neo”, for a chat about his love for doughnuts and more.
Uncle Neo’s love for food stems from his childhood. He explained that his family has always been in the food business and as a child, he’d always be running around in the kitchen at his parents’ restaurant. “Since then, I have been learning about and experimenting with all kinds of food. I love taking ingredients and making something unique out of them.”
Talking about why he chose doughnuts as the focus point of his shop, he shared: “I am a huge, huge lover of doughnuts! When Gonuts with Donuts opened in Sri Lanka for the first time, my fridge was constantly stocked with doughnuts.”
He added that as a lover of doughnuts, he’s always had his own recipe which he tweaked to perfection when he opened up Uncle Neo’s. “I’ve always been fascinated by food, but I never got around to opening up a shop until quarantine happened. I had a lot of time to execute it and I decided on how I wanted it to go,” he commented, adding that he loves hearing about people enjoying his food and that he is eternally grateful for his mother for being there every step of the way.
Starting up a food venture, especially in times of a pandemic, is not the easiest. Uncle Neo opened up about some of the obstacles he had to overcome to get his shop up and running. “I started up with an artisan theme, but when I moved forward with that, I realised I needed a change of scenery to make this more appealing. So I adapted a funky, colourful, and bubbly vibe, which is the same vibe I want my doughnuts to give off as well.”
He said that figuring out what items were in demand and catering to it was quite different, adding: “I had seriously misjudged this and had a few failed products as well, but I eventually found my way, and Uncle Neo’s is now doing well.”
He advised anyone who wishes to follow through with their dreams that when it comes to progress, they shouldn’t be content. “Aim as high as you can, because I spent a good portion of my life not being satisfied with what I had. It took a great teacher to teach me how to not doubt myself and to keep moving forward. If you achieve perfection, look for something even more than that.”
The perfect doughnut, according to Uncle Neo, is not too sweet and has flavours that complement each other. “The most important factor of a good doughnut is the bun; it has to be able to accommodate any flavour. Even when I fill my doughnuts in, I make sure the bun is still highlighted.”
Talking about some of his proudest products, he said: “If you like chocolate, then the chocolate and nut is for you, whereas if you’re a Sri Lankan custard baby, then the profiteroles are right for you. If I had to pick a favourite, I would say mine is the blueberry cheesecake doughnut because it’s like biting into a cloud.”
Having sampled the profiterole doughnut, we can certainly say that Uncle Neo is not wrong; the custard is soft and gooey and oozes out in every bite, and the generous layer of melted chocolate on top complements the flavour of the vanilla custard so well that combined, it’s almost like tasting heaven.
He also mentioned that somewhere down the line, he aims to cater towards vegans and vegetarians, because, in his words, “everyone deserves to enjoy a good doughnut”. He also has plans in the future to open up his very own doughnut store. Elaborating on this, he said: “I want a storefront that Sri Lanka has not done yet. I want a place that people can come sit and enjoy, but not in a traditional way. Right now, I’m thinking of a New York-style bakery, not the conventional kind.”
There are a few more exciting products in the works, Uncle Neo revealed, adding that he would prefer not to elaborate. But there are big things coming, so doughnut lovers – keep your eyes peeled!