I’ve been waiting for quite a while for a proper durian feast since last year. S2 and I had friends (L&P) visiting from Egypt 3 weeks ago (just before the protests started) and we took them on an ambitious but rainy tour of KL. After dragging them to various lookout points (in heavy rain) and subjecting them to kaya toast (plug here for Yut Kee), S2 and I thought we’d end the night with a fantastic chinese dinner of siew ju at Imbi Palace and round the corner to our usual stall. I have to tell you that the Imbi stall has been “renovated” and now has an impressive zinc roof shelter that spans twice as large as the original umbrellas did, providing more dry seating areas than before. The owner has also installed more fluorescent lights and everything was much brighter than before. We ordered 2 smallish durians which were MSWs which our friends thought smelled revolting and the taste revile. But, they were very game and actually ate a few seeds just to confirm that they neither liked the taste nor texture. S2 and I generally had a good time until it came to the bill which amounted to over RM 150 for both. We thought that this was way overcharging us and thus with a heavy heart, I must admit that we have decided to boycott that stall (we hypothesize that perhaps the stall owners wish to recoup their investment asap, even from their regulars). So, no more eating durians at Jalan Imbi for the time being.
Valentine’s Day fell on the 14th which was a Monday this year and so happened that: 1) this is still during the CNY period and 2) it was the eve of the Prophet’s birthday (national holiday here!). While most people were probably out celebrating their couply love, we hung out with my usual “medical makan kaki” comprising of 5 doctors and our crew of 4. This time we went to Unique Seafood in Section 13 (fresh as you can get, but forget conversation as it’s way too noisy) and then made our way over to Donald’s Durian in SS2, another usual haunt of ours. I rang Donald before going just to make sure that he had the good spikey stuff- durians (it’s still kind of early in the season) and that he had a table for our large group.
“No problem,” he said, “Just come over, I will get a table ready for you“
Fantastic. We got there at 10.30pm, still full of fish and other swimmers, but ready for mouthwatering durian (for all you newbies, we always have room for durian).
“What will you have tonight?” Donald asked casually. I asked him what he had which was good. “Well, we can start off with some D13, progress onto D101 and D24…”
AC the durian snob made a wrinkled face at the mention of the common D24. “How about Mau Sang Wang?” AC asked, she could barely contain herself and it seemed to be all she wanted.
“Yes, we have that too but I would recommend that the Mau Sang Wang will be last…” Donald wandered back over to his wall of durians to start the selections.
“Make sure all good one ah..” AC quipped after him. Donald assured her with a money back guarantee.
I have to confess that I was too busy eating and only remembered to take the photos only towards the end of the
session… but there’s enough there to share what the colors, textures and aromas were.
First up, the D13 which was richly unfamiliar but was caramelly, velvety and sweet all at once. You can see that the ripeness was perfection, I say this because the outer skin separates smoothly and cleanly, almost like a translucent wrapper from the rest of the flesh. And it is this surprising resistance when you first bit into it that eventually gives way to the soft yielding flesh below which made all of us say that overall, we rated this fruit a 4.5/5.
The durian itself was small and rather cute, it was slightly larger than the palm of my hand, the seeds were small and kind of irregularly shaped which reminded me of the MSW which is almost always like that.
Each pellicle contained about 5 small seeds wrapped in this rich yellowy orange skin. We polished this one off pretty quickly.
Next up was the D101.
This D101 was one of the larger durians Donald recommended that night. It was at least 30cm from top to bottom and had several big seeds with nice sunny yellow flesh.
This was also pleasant but the taste was a little bit more watered down than the D13 and we didn’t want to eat all of it as we were anticipating what would come next.
The seeds were larger and more meaty. We were worried that it might fill us up all the way.
Donald sent over another Durian which I hadn’t had before, or maybe it just goes by a different name. The Phoenix.
The Phoenix was delicious. I have to say now that it was my favorite for the whole night, with D13 coming in straight behind it. This Phoenix was pale to an almost anemic looking jaundiced kid and small like the D13 comparable to the size of a canteloupe melon. The seeds were small and the flesh was a little bitter, a little sweet, but very smooth, velvety and had a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. Not watery at all, it had the right surface tension and didn’t come across fibrous or sticky on the palate. Definitely try this if you are having some durian this week.
I really enjoyed this one but I suspect that like the Tauwa (see previous posts), we just can’t get it all year round.
After the pale and seemingly sun deprived Phoenix, Donald sent over the Mau Sang Wang (aka, Raja Kunyit). This Mau Sang Wang was a little larger than I would have liked, it was almost as large as the D101 and had the classic vibrant canary yellow with even spacing and full flesh overlaying small seeds.
Generally, I am a big fan of the Mau Sang Wang, but this one was not as strong in flavour as I would have liked it and maybe I was already won over by the Phoenix and D13.
As you can imagine, we were already getting pretty full by this stage (Donald sent 2 or 3 of each kind mind you) and were were starting to push each other to take the last seeds left in the fruits.
At this juncture, Donald brought out a heavy hitter (wallet too). This was the D88, a large monster to end of the evening and complete the repertoire and spectrum. It was almost too big for us to stomach but it certainly made an impressive appearance. The brown almost leathery spikes split open to reveal large golden pillow style durian seeds. Each seed was about as big as my fist (which isn’t that big, about the size of an apple).
The flesh by comparison was weak in flavor compared to all the others and it was by far the most watery and least delectable among the lot. Perhaps our tastebuds were also already so overwhelmed by all the wonderful aromas and textures, it would be hard to take them to the next stimulatory level.
I thought that the D88 would have been a good candidate for the freezer, and it was a pity I forgot to take the seeds home as they were almost perfectly ovular in shape, except that you would definitely prefer to eat Phoenix rather than a D88….
Here’s my last photo for this post…wonderfully skin colored smooth durian seeds.
I’ll keep you updated soon on my next durian adventure. I intend to to visit a durian farm with some new friends who say they are also huge fans of the fruit one of these weekends when we have time, that will be an authentic and fresh feast.