On the 1st of January, AR was in Singapore and persistent in querying when we’d be conducting our next durian expedition. “Well, I guess it has to be tomorrow then as we leave on the 3rd.”
After settling ZI down for a nap in her car seat, we picked up AR from his hotel and decided to try our luck at Dempsey. Nope. A quick spin around showed us an empty stall with no truck, durians or people in sight. It looked like an abandoned stall at 3.30pm.
Two more options, my auntie’s favourite Yio Chu Kang dudes or a cruise around Geylang for anything on offer. I rang the Yio Chu Kang dudes.
“Our durian truck comes at 6pm. If you can come by 6 or 6.30 I can save you some good ones” he said.
“Do you have any right now? Saved from yesterday?”
“No, no, we don’t keep. We sell everything we have and fresh stock comes in everyday from Malaysia.”
“What kind of durians do you have?” I inquired.
“We have very good Mao Shan Wang and sometimes one or two other types.”
It sounded good but 6pm was too far off. We needed durians NOW.
So off to Geylang it was. I called a shop named Wonderful durians. The sullen and sleepy voice that answered the phone told me that they had Mao Shan Wang for 28 SGD per kilo. At least I ascertained that at least one stall had their delivery today.
As we turned onto Sims Avenue, our eyes immediately widened as durians were displayed on racks on the left. We did a short circuit in the car down two intersections and turned round again. The liveliest stall that kept beckoning us got our attention. (We did see Wonderful Durians but the durians on display didn’t look half as impressive as this stall.)
We left the car by the stall and all hopped out a bit too enthusiastically. The durian sellers knew we were in their clutches now.
Ah Sing, our smoking, long-fringed, bad boy looking,self-appointed durian stall liaison asked what we were after.
Mao Shan Wang.
Two prices, he pointed to the left. Those are 20/kg. Over here, it’s 28/kg.
Yes, I know all about young trees and old trees. Different flavours, different price.
“We want a really good one” said SW. “Ok” he said. “Just tell me what kind of taste you like and let me pick for you. I recommend old tree, give you at 25/kg. guarantee good or exchange for another.”
How could we refuse an offer like that?
The Musang king he set in front of us was pretty much perfect. Bitter sweet and slightly fermented as requested. Soft enough to yield to the touch and thin flesh that peeled right off the misshapened seeds. Fantastic.
We took our time savouring each seed, comparing a lifetime of durian experiences with every bite.
Once we were done with our first durian, AR was predictably keen on getting another. Maybe we should try this other one called Hu Do. It was going for a premium, 35/kg. I think it was designed to draw in durian crazies like us.
To be fair, Ah Sing only reluctantly agreed to pick one out for us. It was nowhere close to the one we just had. Drier, meatier and altogether less fragrant and flavourful, I regretted it from the first bite. Ah Sing nodded thoughtfully and immediately searched for a replacement. The next one he opened just a sliver and asked AR to pinch a bit to assess suitability. AR said it was pretty good, better than the first. But when Ah Sing was splitting the fruit open, the sudden jerk of the knife caused the durian pellicles to tumble onto the dirty wooden table. Too AR’s chagrin, Ah Sing tossed the whole fruit into the bin without another thought. AR protested at the terrible waste of a good fruit but I told him that those wooden tables are often crawled in by cats, rats and roaches at night. Any decent durian seller wouldn’t want a case of food poisoning on their hands. So into the trash it goes.
The 3rd Hu Do durian that finally came our way was acceptable to AR and SW. I was feeling rather full at this stage and just had two seeds to satisfy my tastebuds. Hu Do was generally less creamy and an overall more fleshy and robust durian. Some bitterness but this I detected as an undertone rather than an overtone.
ZI woke up and put an end to this durian expedition, but we’d already eaten our fill and were pretty much done anyway.
Ah Sing provided a bottle of water each and a box of tissues. I noticed other customers donning plastic gloves to eat their durians… What’s the fun in that? Durian eating is all about the tactile sensations in the fingers and mouth. I never understood those who would eat it with a fork (BC that’s you).
The total damage was less than SGD 150, a steal considering what I’d have to pay in Hong Kong.