The Raja Kunyit has rich yellow, thick creamy flesh.
Malaysia, Aug 2, 2009 – YOU either love it or hate it; there’s no middle ground where the durian is concerned.
And if you do love it, you’d do anything to have it, including making abrupt stops in the middle of nowhere or risking being fined for illegal parking at the roadside that just happened to have a durian stall nearby.
There was a time when there was a distinct season for durians, but these days it seems you can get them the whole year round. Nevertheless, there are still times when they seem to be everywhere, woe to those who hate getting even the slightest whiff of them.
For durian lovers, however, happy days are here again as there are now so many places to get them, and at affordable prices too.
In Petaling Jaya, Selangor, those who cannot get enough of this spiky fruit’s flavourful, creamy pulp should head for the durian stalls along SS2/65 for the “Eat All You Can” durian feasts there.
Look out for Cheah Kim Wai, 29, or Durian Wai as he is popularly known, who was in the thick of action 11 years ago when he first set up stall in the area and the idea of an unlimited durian feast was mooted.
The move was originally an attempt by the durian sellers to dispel misconceptions that durians were expensive, he said.
Over the years, the “Eat All You Can” campaign worked to promote sales but it was halted for some time due to the El Nino weather phenomenon that resulted in a durian shortage in the early 2000s. This would last till 2005 and then with better yields, Cheah and his fellow traders restarted their promotions.
Know your durians: The Tracka durian has a visible gap in the heart of the fruit.
For as little as RM9 per head, diners are given a free-flow supply of kampong durians and those who are willing to pay a bit more can opt for the RM15 package for the D24 variety.
Complementary salt water is provided for detoxification purposes and fresh coconut water and mangosteens are also sold on the side. Diners can also count on comfortable seating and one of the advantages of dining-in is the convenience of being able to exchange a below par fruit for a better one on the spot.
Diners also do not have to worry about selecting the right fruit as Cheah is at hand to do this.
Surprisingly, diner feedback revealed that while the “Eat All You Can” offer is a definite draw; many customers have returned to eschew the promotional offer for the premium varieties.
At Cheah’s stall, for example, there are no fewer than 12 types of durians on the menu and each one has a different character and flavour. The Tracka durian, for example, is recognisable by the visible gap in the heart of the fruit and its deep yellow coloured pulp, which has a sweet yet slightly bitter taste.
Then there are the sweet but small seeded varieties, like the Jiuji and D96; and for those who relish a luxurious mouthful, there is the Raja Kunyit and the Udang Merah, which has a slight tinge of red in its rich yellow pulp. Another rare but popular choice is the XO, named for its pale, bitter flesh.
Singaporean Kwa Hwee Leng, 60, who has been satisfying his yearly durian cravings at Cheah’s stall for the past five years opined that the “Eat All You Can” package lost its appeal after the durian vendor introduced him to the XO and Raja Kunyit, the most expensive variety at RM25 per kilo.
The Raja Kunyit, in addition to the Tracka durian, seems to be the most popular choice among diners. Alexa Cheah, nine, and her sister, Ashley, seven, certainly prefer the Raja Kunyit durian over the other varieties.
Cheah, a father of two, advised that very young children should best be introduced to durians with a “wetter” textured flesh like the D24, D101 and D2. With the Raja Kunyit and Tracka, the dense creamy texture of their pulps can be hard for a small child to swallow, he explained.
“There is an order to durian appreciation. First, warm up the taste buds with a mild flavoured durian like the D24. Only then can you progress to something stronger like the XO or Raja Kunyit so that you can appreciate the nuances of each variety fully,” advised Cheah who has been selling durians since he was 19.
Through experience, Cheah said, he has observed that the real durian connoisseurs often prefer varieties that have distinct bottom notes of bitterness, like the pale creamy-fleshed Tawa variety, which is becoming rarer by the day.
“Connoisseurs insist that it is the bitterness which brings out the fragrance of the durian,” he said.
As for the potent dangers of durian overconsumption, Cheah said that he has yet to witness any untoward incident at his stall.
“Moderation is the key. In general, if you overeat, then you are going to feel very uncomfortable and the same applies when it comes to a durian feast,” he said.
However, he advises caution for diners with diabetes and high blood pressure as the sugar content in durians is very high.
Consuming durians with alcohol is also not advised. This comes from Cheah’s personal observation after watching the chemical reaction of a durian pulp that had been plopped into a glass of whiskey. “The glass became so hot that it cracked. Imagine the same effect in the human stomach,” he said.
Nevertheless, Cheah’s presence in SS2 and the numerous other durian vendors throughout the country is testimony to the fact that the durian is in demand, never mind that eating it can make one sweat.
Now, for those who are gluttons for durians but don’t know which one to choose from the piles of the fruit at their feet, bear in mind this tip from Cheah.
“If you have to choose your own fruit, remember that a durian should first be light. And when you shake the fruit, you should hear a muted rattling. Lastly, give it a good sniff and if the aroma pleases you, then it’s a good durian,” he said.
Wai Durian Stall is at Jalan SS2/65, Petaling Jaya, Selangor (behind police station and BHP petrol kiosk). Tel: 012-234 5619. Open from noon to midnight