Open & Shut: Family doughnut shop moves to Eagle River, and Anchorage gets a new shabu shabu-sushi spot plus a Korean corn dog franchise

Open & Shut is an ongoing series looking at the comings and goings of businesses in Southcentral Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in the area, send a note to reporter Alex DeMarban at with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.


Jason’s Donuts: A family of four — Jason Carlson, Andreea Koski and their now-adult children Ucinia and Kyrin Carlson — began this business selling doughnuts from their former Fairbanks home doorstep in 2016 after Carlson was laid off from his job as a contractor.

Six years later, they closed their beloved Fairbanks-area shop, and reopened the fully family-run doughnut business in late June in Eagle River.

Carlson’s hand-cut, New York-style doughnuts are fluffy and big — much larger than many store-bought pastries. That’s the aspect customers comment on the most, said his wife, Koski, adding that they’re also hooked on the flavor and texture.

Some of their specialties include a chocolate cake doughnut; apple fritters with fresh Granny Smith apples; the Danish cheese, which is filled with cheesecake; giant maple-glazed cinnamon rolls topped with bacon; and blueberry-glazed doughnuts topped with pieces of Pop-Tarts, among other varieties.

Then there’s the special-order-only Denali doughnut. At 3 1/2 pounds, it feeds up to 12 people and is customized with filling, glaze and toppings “however you want,” Ucinia said.

Carlson first learned to make doughnuts working at a shop in Buffalo, New York, where he’d started in a janitorial position, Koski said. He’d always loved to cook and bake, and it snowballed from there, she said.


“He treats this like an art,” Koski said. “There’s a lot of love that goes into these doughnuts. A lot of love and passion.”

Each afternoon at 4 p.m., Carlson begins making 100-plus pounds of dough for the next morning’s batch. He puts a level of energy into the doughnuts that’s challenging to match for other bakers they’d previously hired, Ucinia said.

“When Jason does it, nothing’s really timed,” Koski said. “Measure with your heart,” Ucinia interjected.

“It’s all based on, you know, visual, touching the dough. Is it firm enough to start rolling out? There’s a lot of different factors,” Koski said.

Carlson’s son typically arrives later in the day, making glazes from scratch and hand-glazing the doughnuts. Then, at 4 a.m., they hand the shop over to Koski and daughter Ucinia, who open it for business at 5 a.m.

This sell-till-sold-out shop, located at 12801 Old Glenn Highway, opens at 5 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Since their soft opening in June, they’ve sold out several days in just three to four hours.

“The early bird gets the doughnut,” Koski said.

Sushi Motto: The owners of the longtime downtown sushi joint Kumagoro have opened a new Spenard-area sushi restaurant with a special focus on shabu shabu, or hot pot. It’s located in the space that was formerly Peter’s Sushi Spot, which closed in April.

Sushi Motto is the family venture of Jennifer Choi and her husband, Steve Lee, who bought Kumagoro in 2019. Choi has worked in the city’s restaurant scene for years, spending about 13 as a server at Sushi Ya.

Anchorage has many sushi restaurants, Choi said, but not many that also serve her favorite dish — shabu shabu. She wanted to bring to the community another version of the food that she grew up with in Jilin, China.

“Every time I go to China, I eat shabu shabu every day. Maybe twice a day. I love shabu shabu,” she said.

Sushi Motto’s shabu shabu is closer to a Japanese version, Choi said. “I can’t do, like, exactly the same as China, because there’s not much of the vegetables here and not much sauce,” she said.

The communal hot pot comes to the table filled with a piping hot, homemade beef bone broth. Diners then add in the raw ingredients to cook at the table: thin slices of beef and lamb, tofu, enoki and shitake mushrooms, bok choy, noodles and more.

“You can really taste that it’s traditional. It’s not like a powdered broth,” said general manager Christina Pierce. “We make it with real marrow, so you can really taste the beef in everything.”

The turnkey restaurant space came with a sushi bar. Choi’s husband, Lee, is the chef behind it, serving his sushi roll creations. His favorites are the spicier rolls, like the Motto Poki roll, filled with crab meat and shrimp tempura, and piled high with mixed poke, cucumber, tobiko and radish. The Orange Blossom roll has spicy salmon inside and spicy tuna on the outside, with thick drizzles of Choi’s special sauces.

Sushi Motto held its soft opening on July 7. The menu is still in flux, and they’ll likely add more styles of shabu shabu beyond the beef broth, Pierce said.

The restaurant also offers a variety of other dishes, including chicken teriyaki, katsu, yakisoba and more.


The restaurant at 3020 Minnesota Drive is open six days a week from noon to 9 p.m., and is closed on Tuesdays.

Two Hands Fresh Corn Dogs: A Korean-style corn dog franchise has found a home in Anchorage’s Dimond Center food court. Restaurateurs Ken Kim and Jin Park opened the spot in late April to long lines of customers waiting to try the street food that’s blown up on social media over the last few years.

These dogs come with options. Customers choose the filling, such as sausage, beef, spicy beef, a plant-based sausage or mozzarella cheese.

You also choose the style. There’s the classic dog, a sweet and savory Korean corn dog. Another kind comes covered in crispy rice puffs.

Park recommends the spicy dog or potato dog. The first comes covered with Hot Cheetos powder and Two Hands spicy sauce. The latter is wrapped in crispy fried potatoes and comes with Two Hands dirty sauce, similar to a Sriracha mayo.

Two Hands is Kim’s sixth venture as co-owner and president of restaurant management group Topex Company, which operates three Top Bop locations. After Park joined as vice president last year, they opened two more, Ghost Kitchen and Eat’alia.

Park and Kim caught on to the Korean corn dog trend while traveling out of state, noticing that the fusion fare was booming in popularity. Two Hands, which is based in Los Angeles, has dozens of locations across the country, and the Dimond Center restaurant is its only location in Alaska.

“We just thought that Anchorage needs a little more than just a restaurant. Something more common in the Lower 48 that’s growing,” said co-owner Park. “Our key is to provide a variety of options for Alaska.”


[Open & Shut: Anchorage gets a chocolate tasting room, a reimagined Turkish restaurant and 2 gift stores]


Thai Siam: The popular Thai food eatery at Spenard Road and Lois Drive shuttered its doors permanently this month. A sign posted to its door announced its closure “due to retirement.”

“Thank you all for your support for the last 13 years,” the sign read.

MVP Sports Deli & Eatery: This sub sandwich restaurant on Tudor Road plans to close for early retirement next month, according to a message on its website from owners Kevin and Genna Held.

“It has been an honor to have served each of you throughout the last 10 years. Thank you for choosing MVP to be a part of your dining experience and providing us the privilege to share our unique homemade recipes with you here in Anchorage, Alaska,” they said in the message. “May the ‘Levels-Of-Flavor’ you helped us create, remain in you forever as they will in us. So long friends, you will be dearly missed.”

This east-side spot has been a local favorite, known for its Italian-style pastrami “cheesesteak” sandwich featuring house-made pastrami and white cheddar cheese sauce, topped with fresh Italian relish.

A Daily News dining columnist wrote in 2016: “With lovingly prepared components, high-quality ingredients and beautifully balanced combinations, the sandwiches at MVP Sports Deli are the closest I’ve come to the Italian deli subs I grew up eating in New York and New Jersey.”

The owners said MVP Sports Deli will close Aug. 12.

David’s Bridal: Anchorage’s biggest wedding gown retailer, David’s Bridal, is closing. The store’s last day open to the public is Tuesday, July 18, an employee said.

The Pennsylvania-based chain filed for bankruptcy in April, warning that it would likely close many of its roughly 300 stores across the country and lay off 9,000-plus workers. A bankruptcy sale agreement that received court approval this month would keep some stores open, but wasn’t expected to affect the Anchorage store closure.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at