Craving durian dessert in Singapore CBD

Durian Penget as the draw

Durian Pengat as the draw

I read in the local daily newspaper about a cafe that offers a durian dessert. OWL cafe in Republic Plaza is newly opened and if you are in the city, you might like to check it out. Here’s a link to a food blogger’s review of the dishes served.

Durian pengat is a sweetened durian pulp, just like having blended durian except made richer by the addition of coconut milk to unify the textures. It makes not so good durian edible in a sweet soup. Here’s a recipe from a lady who likes the dessert. However there are many ways to make this and I have not tried this so cannot vouch for it.

 

After Dinner Durian in Kuala Lumpur

On a recent trip to KL, I invited AC over for dinner. It had rained in the afternoon and we wanted to stay home to avoid the traffic at rush hour. She said that she would love to come over for dinner and exclaimed “I haven’t eaten durian since the last time you were here! I will go buy some as dessert.”

I wasn’t sure if she would, as she would have had to brave the traffic all the way to Jalan Imbi and back. Well, as sure as my salmon was in the oven and baking for dinner, AC turned up with the durian dessert. Initially we left the trademark rose red plastic bag on the table and didn’t want to touch it until after we had our dinner (you will soon see why this plan worked).

Right after we ate our dinner, I was pretty excited to get started on the dessert.

Go on mum” I said, “let’s open the durians!

My mum was a bit surprised that I had space for durians after the big meal, but as I have maintained for years, dessert compartments do not overlap with main dinner compartments.

Air sealed durian packaging

Air sealed durian packaging

 

So here’s why I could have my durians post dinner instead of having it as an appetizer. It was air sealed and there was no smell! So one of my main senses was deprived and hence… less temptation. AC told me that the Jalan Imbi durian uncle was rather proud of his new packaging, specifically pointing it out to her when she bought it. He told her that this way, no smell gets into the car. I suspect that this also serves the hordes of chinese tourists who want to bring some back to their hotel room or their home country via their luggage. They usually descend on his stall by coach loads and like a swarm of locusts, consume all the durian in sight.

Mum got a pair of scissors and exposed the wonderful durian fragrance which permeated the entire room.

Mao Shan Wang in March

Mao Shan Wang in March

And here is the first packet. Looking pretty good and tasting rich, smooth and creamy like a brut champagne.

MSW box 2

MSW box 2

The next box was equally delicious but had a different taste (one box contains fruit from one durian). It was a little softer, more pliant and a little watery. It had stronger bitter undertones and less of the sweetness. The thing about durian is that you can’t ever find fruits to compare which have the same texture but different tastes or the same taste but different textures. That is one of the wonderful surprises that durian has to offer. This is true even of fruit from the same tree.

Here is the final evidence.

Seeds of the Mao Shan Wang

Seeds of the Mao Shan Wang

The seeds are classically mis-shapened and small, most of Mao Shan Wang is the satisfying taste of sunshine.

Singapore branded durian chocolate

My friend O and I went to check out the Gardens by the Bay’s latest attraction, the Children’s Garden. By the time we huffed and puffed our way there from the car park, the sun had evaporated about 5% of our body’s liquid mass. Desperate for a drink of water, we entered the nice cool air-conditioned shop that was beside the Toddler play area. It was my first time in there, and the menu consisted of the usual fast (and somewhat junky) type food that most commercial vendors believe children should be eating. While I was browsing the counter, saw a little acrylic stand selling bars of chocolate.

Gardens Chocolate

Gardens By The Bay Branded Chocolate

What possessed the GBTB to brand their own chocolate slabs for sale? I guess it could be a souvenir… they should  perhaps advertise a unique selling point that it doesn’t melt in the Singapore heat. The flavors are quite different than what you would find in a normal display in the supermarket or what Lindt would consider their bestsellers. The Durian one caught my attention, and it was all with Dark Chocolate. I didn’t get round to trying this, maybe it would be better if they sold it in one of the cold domes rather than the stall which lets you out back into the hot sun when you step out of the glass doors. I was imagining stepping out into the Toddler play area with chocolate on my hands and stains on my shirt. Nooooo….

Anyone tried this yet? Please let me know if you have. I’m a fan of the actual durian more than the processed derivatives.

What’s selling at the supermarket in Tanglin Mall?

At the Marketplace in Tanglin Mall, the luscious D-D-D-Durian was spotted for sale:

Durian for sale at the Markerplace

Durian for sale at the Markerplace

The color looked good but there was absolutely no smell despite the basic looking packaging. Price wise, I guess it’s more or less the same as what you can find in most other supermarkets like Paragon for a Mao Shan Wang (unless they have a one for one offer). It looks like each box contains roughly half a durian fruit, it doesn’t look like they bothered weighing it, more like what they could pack into each box.

 

Durian ice cream dessert at the Goodwood Hotel

After a taiwan porridge dinner at the Goodwood Hotel (they are famous for this), I needed something sweet to get over the savouriness of the meal.

I’ve wanted to try the durian ice cream for some time, the hotel cafe promotes this heavily as their star item.

So here’s the single scoop.

Single Scoop of Durian Ice Cream at Goodwood Hotel Singapore

Single Scoop of Durian Ice Cream at Goodwood Hotel Singapore

Color is mild and so was the aroma… but that’s probably natural as it is frozen ice cream.

It was pretty good, I give it a 4/5. It was smooth and had some meat to it but I prefer durian ice cream with chunks of durian in it so that it’s textured and chewy. The biscotti was a bit of a distraction but it did make the serving look a little larger and more posh. It is available all year round so it will satisfy any cravings you have, even in the middle of the night.

Durians in Taipei

SW, ZI and I are spending 2 weeks in Taipei and we’re checking out various parts of the city. A search for a late lunch resulted in 3 ladies pointing us in the direction of Yong Kang Jie for famous beef noodle soup.

After devouring a bowl of hot soup, I needed something sweet. At 4pm, most stalls were on a break before dinner.

Just as I was resigning myself to a dessert-less afternoon, we chanced upon a fruit stall. It was tiny and a 2 man film crew occupied the interior… Interviewing the owners and gesturing animatedly at the fruit selections. I picked up some Taiwan-grown kyoho grapes (still far inferior to the Japanese version, but costs less than half) and paid the cashier. She was so occupied with the film crew that she gave me the change and forgot my grapes.

It was while I was searching for my grapes that I spied the sign for durian. I asked the lady if they were available and where they were from. "Yes yes, they are from Thailand" she said. From her tone of voice, I knew she wanted to get back to the filming.

I didn’t bother asking her for more details so all I have for you is that if you are desperate for durian in Taipei, you can get a dried (120 NT) or frozen Thai version of it in the small fruit stall in Yong Kang Jie. Nearest underground station is Dong Men.

Can Durian Cure Infertility?

All good things come in pairs?

All good things come in pairs?

Hmm. Infertility is one of those subjects that is taboo and sensitive in every culture. No one wants to admit that they are infertile for any reason and most go to great lengths to demonstrate that they can have children by having as many as possible (note that this is actually different from the demonstration of virility, although it should ultimately be linked to the same outcome).

Does Durian have a role to play in this? Well, I was quite surprised to read in an article that in Tamil Nadu (one of India’s largest states, or maybe it is the largest), the locals there think so.

*Credit for the picture here to Dr. Leslie Tay from ieatishootipost

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Ooty: The extended durian fruiting season at the horticulture farm (GHF) on the Burliar slopes comes as a major surprise for horticulturalists. The durian season usually runs between mid-July and mid-September, but this year the extended season has been witnessing good yields.

A durian fetches as much as Rs 600 per kg as barren couples try their luck through this fruit, which is said to help in providing help in tackling infertility problems. Call it magic or miracle, the rare fruit durian is much sought after by childless couples.

Saying that it is surprising to note that the durian season is extending beyond September, M. Pragasam, assistant director of horticulture (farms), said that this year the department had to call for a second auction in the month of October as there has been a good yield this month too.

While the government has earned additional income through durian, the reasons for the extended season may be the good rainfall in September and the delayed fertilisation in parts of the trees, he said.

“Even though there is no scientific evidence till date to speak for that this fruit solves the infertility problems, it is widely believed from ancient times that it cures the problems related to infertility and helps women to conceive.

Hence the demand is high for this fruit among childless couples. Quite a few couples who were blessed with a child after consuming durian in the past informed us over phone and letters about this miracle fruit. So, the demand for this fruit is always there” he pointed out.

V.J. Babu, who won the bid in October to harvest durian fruits at GHF in Burliar, said there are about 34 durian trees in GHF which continue to bear fruit. “Only when the fully matured fruit falls down do we pick it up and bring it for sale. We expect around 700 fruits this season. The demand is still there and those who want to buy this fruit mostly come to the venue to buy them” he said.

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Does Durian consumption make you feel like pro-creating? Usually after eating a huge durian feast, they fall asleep and that’s when the pro-creation happens, thus linking it to fertility. Hmm. (A huge protein intake would do the same but there are lots of vegetarians there so perhaps durians are a substitute). 

Combat Durian Stall in Balestier

“Everyone knows that the place to buy durians in Balestier is that stall by the temple” said one of my friends who resides in Novena.

Which stall is that?

After a rather disappointing teo chew porridge buffet dinner at the Quality Hotel ( it’s very Chinese to give a name to make up for what it lacks), we took a stroll along a nicely renovated sidewalk along Balestier road to check out this stall. COMBAT DURIAN. What a name. I wonder what they are lacking……

Crazy Combat Durian Signboard

Crazy Combat Durian Signboard

There is no way you can miss the stall. It is lit up like a Christmas tree with signboards hanging from every aspect, giving instructions on where to park your car to all the news features on their stall.

Durians Available at Combat Durian

Combat Durians

Right up front and center are the durians for sale in baskets on a table. We decided to go for the Mau San Wangs.  2 please.

Prices

Prices

Durian price lists indicate what’s premium and in season… all the stalks look quite fresh.

I thought this signboard depicting the founders was pretty funny. It’s a strange thing but I guess buying durians requires a high trust factor so knowing that the owners seem reputable is important. (But why COMBAT? Was he fighting with his wife? Did they use durians as weapons? Were they in the army?)

Founders of Combat Durian

Our Mau San Wangs were opened and quickly pried out of their husks and into take-away boxes.

IMG_3975

Looks nice and richly yellow right?

Sealing the durians

Many durian stalls are now gearing up for customers who want to take their durian with them in planes, trains and automobiles. So it’s the stink-free packaging that is now standard.

Prepacked Durians for Sale

If you aren’t an expert and don’t trust them enough to select the durian, they also have open prepackaged fruit on offer at not-too-expensive prices.

Mangosteens

Of course Chinese people will tell you that Durian is “heaty” and that if you are planning to consume lots then you should balance your yin-yang with a “cooling” fruit such as the mangosteen. They usually come into season together. I don’t know if it’s really true about the balancing, but I can assure you that the mangosteens remove the taste of the durian and is quite refreshing.

Crazy Signboards at Combat Durian

These are more crazy signs at the stall.

The following picture is a picture of the competitor durian stall next door. It just has one LED flashing sign but no one was in sight of the stall. An uncleared table of durian husks, some mangosteen husks and with a name like “Sindy”, I am not sure who and what sort of patrons this stall targets. Combat durian is definitely fighting to stay on top, and they are clearly the winner along this street and neighborhood.

The "Sindy" Durian Stall in Balestier

The “Sindy” Durian Stall in Balestier

Durian products from Bangkok

Over the last month, SW and I have made a trip to Bangkok and a trip to Vietnam. Both trips were for work but we managed to squeeze out some time to meet friends and have a bit of sightseeing and fun. My mum joined us on the trip to BKK and she proudly told me that she’d bought some Monthong Durian Sweets for an uncle who lives in London. When she tried to give them to my uncle, he didn’t want them, telling her that he was on a diet and was trying to get rid of his huge belly!

Monthong Durian Paste

Ah well. It all smells pretty good and not too strong. If anyone is reading this post and would like a stick, send me your name and address. I’m happy to put it in the post to you as a gift from Stinky Spikes (as long as stocks last!).