Durian Stall in Brickfields (Little India), Kuala Lumpur

How did it happen? That extra 1500 calories?

SW and I had just finished our routine at the YMCA and it was a late sunny Sunday afternoon. Having physically exercised vigorously and then mentally for several hours, we were starved of both sleep and circulating glucose. So, it should come as no surprise to you that upon driving out of the YMCA, we immediately spied a durian stall and made an instantaneous decision to stop and inspect the goods.

There was a merry crowd standing at the stall which looked like a ramshackle hut made of a few planks and tarpaulin sheets nestled into the corner of a retaining wall by the road. We strolled into the stall and looked at the various durians (not many left at that hour though) in the plastic cartons on the makeshift tables. I approached the far wall which had a small printed A4 sheet of paper sign “Musang King RM 22 per Kilo”. We looked at each other and asked the nearest guy in a t-shirt for a mau sang wang.

“Not much left,” he said “only one left… you want?”
“SURE!” SW replied without hesitation.
“OK, eat here or take away?” he said, nodding when we said we would consume it on the spot and gestured for a nearby colleague to get us our requested fruit.

SW ambled over to one of the two wooden plank tables with benches that had been set up for groups to sit and eat in. The tables and benches were very simple and you certainly shouldn’t expect anything fancy, it was dusty but not obviously dirty.

Another guy brought our durian over and he placed it on the table in front of us and said: “This durian is 2 kilos, so forty ringgit, is it ok?”
SW and I confirmed with a “Yes Yes” (how could we possibly say no to the tantalizing fruit right in front of us!) and the durian was swiftly opened.
The mau sang wang durian was delicious but not too perfumed and a perfect temperature (not too warm) and a rich creamy yellow. We polished the durian off in less than fifteen minutes and remarked how professional the stall owners were in telling us the price upfront (many other stalls only charge you at the end and of course in that instance, it is almost impossible to know whether the price is correct).

Before leaving, we found out that the durians are from Johor and that the stall opens at 1pm and closes when they sell out. On Sunday, I think they probably closed the stall by 6pm before sunset.

Here’s the map to the stall, do stop by and try some if you happen to be in the Brickfields area.

Durian Stall in Brickfields

Malaysian Durian Price and Export Update July 2011

Dear Stinky Spike readers,
I found this news update in the Malaysian press today, and am so relieved that the prices of durian haven’t skyrocketed to stratospheric levels. Continue enjoying until August!

> China Press reported that durian prices have dropped by half due to the abundant supply of the King of Fruit.

It reported that the Musang King durian was selling at between RM11 and RM13 per kg compared with RM20 and RM25 two weeks ago, while the D24 was priced between RM5 and RM7 per kg against RM15 previously.

The daily also said that orchard farmers and durian traders were unsure of the procedures on how to export durians to China.

It has been reported that China had agreed to import Malaysia’s frozen durians following Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Malaysia in April.

Durian Export: Comment and Headlines

Hello StinkySpikes readers,

A little bit more durian news from Malaysia. Sorry it’s late, but I think it is still good for all of us to keep track of what’s going on…

A comment in the local daily paper:

Durian news in NanYang newspaper

Monday May 30, 2011
What is happening to our durians?
Monday Starters – By Soo Ewe Jin

I AM getting a bit worried about the fate of the King of Fruits in Malaysia. Imagine, if only a fraction of the 1.3 billion people in China decide that they prefer durians over mandarin oranges, will there be any left over for us back home?

I reckon that Uncle Donald in SS2, and many others who tempt us with varieties ranging from the Kim Hoo to the Ang Sim, the Hor Loh to the Ang Heh, and also seedless types named after certain politicians, must now be looking at new marketing strategies.

Will they still want to offer us the “All you can eat for RM10” or “Eat Till You Drop” packages when a bigger market is now ready and open?

Over the past few months, Chinese officials have reportedly been sniffing around our durian plantations to check on our food safety standards. And we have passed the test.
File: Durians on sale in Petaling Jaya.

So when Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao visited Kuala Lumpur at the end of April, he formally agreed to allow the entry of Malaysian durians into mainland China.

We are very happy, of course, and our government even sent a gift of 200 frozen durians to Wen to express our thanks. Nice gesture.

And now it is left to our planters and entrepreneurs to take up the challenge. But I do hope they will not forget the domestic market.

It’s tough enough that we lose some of our best durians to our neighbour down south but can we withstand a sudden rise in demand from the Chinese? Will we be left only with the kampung durian while the branded ones are exclusively for export?

After all, we are all familiar with the story of how Macau’s Gambling King, Stanley Ho, recently sent his private jet to collect 88 durians from Singapore.

Ho spent approximately RM4,800 on the fruit which he bought from the 818 Durian Stall in the city-state though we can safely assume that the fruit, the Musang King variety, came from Malaysia.

It works out to RM50 per fruit, not counting the transport costs. I guess this is really small change to the super-duper rich.

Durian Headlines in SinChew Newspaper

Ho didn’t eat it all but reportedly shared the bounty with his good buddy, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing.

Interestingly enough, a recent Forbes survey shows China now has the second most number of billionaires in the world, after the United States.

According to Forbes, China is home to 64 of the world’s 937 wealthiest people, but various estimates put the actual number of billionaires at between 400 and 500. What if all of them want to eat durians?

We all know that the King of Fruits is not something that only the very rich can afford. In fact, it is very much the common man’s fruit, so can you imagine how big the demand will be if the ordinary Chinese suddenly realise that when it comes to durian, only the Malaysian variety is the real thing?

Our neighbours up north will have a tough fight on their hands, having monopolised the market in mainland China all these years.

According to an Associated Press report, Thailand has dominated the durian trade for more than three decades. It shipped about 138,000 tons (125,000 metric tons) of durians worth nearly US$70mil last year to mainland China, which bought nearly 60% of Thailand’s global durian exports, according to UN trade statistics.

Malaysia, according to Fama (Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority), produces about 330,000 tons (300,000 metric tons) of durians a year, mainly for domestic consumption.

How much of that will now be exported is anybody’s guess. But, hopefully, any fight to control the China market will not get prickly or raise a stink.

Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin is currently barred, for health reasons, from consuming the King of Fruits. He hopes he can still find Balik Pulau durians when he gets well.