Durian D96: Details on another species

It is generally true in my experience that a deeper richer color and tone of the durian is an indicator of its flavor and taste personality. I blogged in a previous entry about the color of durians and its appeal to our visual cortex. Having said that, color does not always indicate a better flavor but may be used to compensate for poor flavor in order to attract the same amount of gastric interest.

Here’s a photo of the D96, how do you think the color rates on a scale of 1-10?

Depth of color: maybe a 7 or an 8

Appearance of texture: probably 7 or 8

Attractiveness of size: maybe an 8 or 9 (its not too big nor small)

Shape: Yes very shapely, maybe an 8

Flesh to fruit ratio: 5 (too much of the white bit)

Overall: a very decent 8 I’d say just looking at it.

BUT I’m sorry to tell you that tastewise the D96 fell short. It tasted more like a 4-5 disappointing the appearance of the fruit. Mediocre taste means that you could eat it and it is not intolerable but it isn’t incredibly special either, ie no, you wouldn’t order a second fruit.

If you don’t know what I mean by the description above and the comparisons of color, here’s a photo that will help with some perspective.

The D96 and the MSW Color Comparison

Durian D96 husk

The yellow-gold husk of the D96 Durian

On the left, the D96, and on the right, the incredibly reliable MSW which usually is already considered a deeper colored fruit as compared with the other species. The exterior does somewhat reflect the color inside (but I would never use this as a benchmark, merely as a singular observation) and note that the spikes are quite uniformly spikey and quite close together.

Have you had a D96? I wonder if there is great variation in the species where one D96 can be markedly different to another. If you’ve had one and it doesn’t sound like how I’ve described it, please do let me know…

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Durian Burung anyone?

The highway bus Durian Burung in Malaysia

The Durian Burung Executive Coach

In case you were wondering what lovely delicious morsel a durian burung is, well it isn’t. Not what you’re thinking anyway, that it might be a little durian roll or even a durian dumpling. No, durian burung is translated as “durian bird” and it is the name of what seems to be a fairly successful a bus company (judging from the number plying the highways). It would be really funny if this bus served only durians for the meals and if everyone on it was a durian lover or if it was solely for the purpose of going from one durian plantation to another….(think of the smell!)

Anyway, I was so amused by the name of the bus that I hopped out of the car and managed to take a photo of the bus before it went driving off. The bus had stopped to let off a lady, yes just one, and it left without her. I suppose she must either live nearby and a relative must be coming to get her from the rest stop or that she works there and this would be a bus to work (approx 8pm). Its funny how in Malaysia, rest stops can now also be bus stops too.

We’ve been nurturing a durian craving which we hope to satisfy perhaps this evening….

In Penang but No Durians

It was an amazing evening of char kuey teow but sadly no durians at this time of the year. I’d like to confirm that there is definitely only 1 season of durians in Penang and it is only for a precious 3 months.

SW and I will have to search for it in KL where we can get ones from Perak and Pahang or maybe Johor…. (cravings getting stronger)

Durian Article in the Malaysian Star Newspaper

I’ve been to this stall in PJ (that’s been mentioned in the article below) once when I brought some friends from the UK to see the crazy durian gorging scene and they were reasonably impressed with the fruit just with seeing the visceral reaction that people had towards it. Notice that the Durian D96 is mentioned in the newspaper article below*. I also found this other durian lover blog post by the name of Jan who had a nice listing of the different durians that she found in the supermarket. Unfortunately, the photo she took was too small to really appreciate but she’s made the effort to translate it into a listing. Here I have a photo of the several durian numerals all clearly painted on the wooden bench at one of our fave stalls in Section 17 (not the one discussed in the article).

*I will show you a photo of D96 in the next post 🙂

Durian Numerals denoting species and types at Section 17 Greenview Durian Stall

Eat-all-you-can durian feasts

Mon Aug 03 2009The Star

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

Weird Durian Food Combinations

Jogoya's Dessert at Starhill Gallery

Jogoya restaurant's Deep Fried Durian Dessert

It was M’s birthday halfway through November and H decided to invite a group of friends out to Jogoya, the Japanese Buffet restaurant in Starhill. There was a great spread of food and I especially liked the fact that this was the first Japanese restaurant to have round tables for ten people, chinese style (usually Japanese restaurants have long square tables which aren’t great for socializing in a group). The food and layout of the buffet could have been better but then again, it was impressive all the same. They had a dish which wasn’t in the dessert section called Deep Fried Durian Puffs, I think it was part of the dim sum selection which was meant to add novelty to the buffet.

By the time that SW and I saw it, we had already gorged ourselves on the copious quantities of raw fish (sashimi) and grilled fish and tofu and beef nabeyaki. H decided to give it a go and was surprisingly supportive of the dish and said that it was “rather good actually”. I didn’t know that H was that keen on durian given our last outing which didn’t see him fighting with us for the last fruit. SW and I aren’t really into durian derivatives as we rather enjoy the real thing but we take H’s word for it.

Durian treats in Airasia Magazine

Durian Desserts in the Airasia Magazine

After M’s birthday, we’ve been doing quite a bit of travelling. First Bangkok then recently I’ve just returned from a conference in Monaco. On my trip to Bangkok on Airasia, there was an article featuring Durian and how it has been specially prepared by various chefs.

Durian Chicken from Nikko Hotel

Durian Chicken Dish at the Nikko KL

At the Nikko Hotel, the Chinese restaurant is promoting durian cooked with chicken (picture on the right)… no idea whether its any good so if anyone has been to try it, please let me know.

No more Tauwa for SW

SS No. 1 Brown Tips

SS No. 1 Brown Tips

Oh dear, Oh dear. There I was telling you how healthy SS No. 1 is and how well its doing. SS No. 1 has still got many challenging stages to get through to survive. It all started with my observation of the tips of the leaves turning brown, an indication to me that something was going wrong with this little plant. First it was one leaf, then in a span of a few days, I noticed that several leaves started having their tips turn brown too. Concern turned into alarm as I realised that I might have either a spreading infection in this plant or that something was killing it. Turning to my book “What’s wrong with my plant” for advice, I read that in many plants, leaves turning brown gradually but not due to bugs consuming it or sun burn is an indication that there is a remote problem, usually the roots.

Oh no! The roots! How would I be able to tell if it is a root infection or perhaps my own folly of over-watering? I spent a dreamless Saturday night mulling over my possible actions and its consequences. On Sunday morning, I had made my decision and broke the news to SW.

“You’re going to have to help me today,” I said ” the little Tauwa durian plant looks rather ill and we have to dig it up and check its roots.” Before SW could protest, I added ” Go look at it, it really doesn’t look well and I’m not sure what’s wrong”. With that, SW went to have a look at the little durian plant and indeed solemnly agreed that perhaps it wasn’t looking its best. What shall we do about it, he asked.

SS. No. 1 in Troubled Waters

“Hmm, perhaps we could attempt a change of soil environment, I suspect that something’s up with the soil, maybe fungal or bugs or perhaps it is just too wet and the soil isn’t able to drain because of the fancy pot we put it in…”

Well we shook the soil off and attempted a round in water but I think you can tell that it’s going to be a futile rescue. Well SS No. 1 has already had its first near death experience an this is the second so let’ see how it goes.