Invitation to visit Fruit 🐒Monkeys, Singapore

I suppose if you were to open a fruit business in the chinese astrological year of the monkey, it would make sense to include the word monkey in the name. Particularly because it is so apt that monkeys love fruit. Especially high calorie ones like durian.

It was a pleasant surprise to receive an invite from the two founders of Fruit Monkeys, to check out their new durian enterprise. Kaida (Chief Inspiration Officer) got in touch and seemed genuinely pleased when I agreed to pop in sometime over the Christmas / New Year period when I was in Singapore. Please note that this is not a paid review, we were charged for what we chose and consumed. 

Fruit Monkeys is located along a street which I would normally never travel on, nor pass by en route somewhere nor on foot. It’s located near Farrer Park MRT station/ hospital, on Rangoon Road but would still be several minutes walk. There’s ample street parking if you’re inclined to drive but no covered areas so be prepared to get a bit soaked in wet weather. Who eats durians on rainy days? 🙋🏻

I popped in to pick up some durian as a gift for a friends house visit, and give Fruit Monkeys a chance. The owners chose to take a shop lot in a newly constructed podium space, not your typical durian stall with such posh digs. The vicinity feels quite experimental and the transitioning of shops in the neighbourhood indicates gradual gentrification of the area. 


As you can see, this isn’t a durian stall that you’d come across… you definitely have to know about it to find it.


At the end of the corridor, Fruit Monkeys has a neat and simple concept, with their durians sunbathing on the terrace. 


Bernard, (the other owner) was tending to the shop that day. 

What could he recommend? 


Bernard said the Xiao Jin feng was excellent, would I like to try it and take a few besides the usual Mao Shan Wangs. Sure, why not. I like to try what the owner recommends, gives me a guage of their taste.


The Jin feng (Golden Phoenix) is indeed “Xiao“, it would fit in the palm of your hand. Perfectly shaped like a little plumper than a rugby ball, it’s too cute weighing in at just over a kilo per fruit. The fruit to husk ratio is pretty decent too.


The durian was opened and I was offered the tasting portion (i.e. Pick the corner seed).


It tasted like ice cream. The flesh was sweet and very smooth. I decided to take 3 of these little ones.

Now onto the main course. I was pretty keen to try this Old Tree Musang King that the owners rave about.


So here it is. Rich deep yellow with perfectly translucent skin. Certainly looked fabulous considering how late it is in the season. Corner pick 😉


Of course it’s fabulous on my deprived palate… but it didn’t have quite enough of the bitter undertones which I like. Nonetheless I took two of these as the texture was spot on. 

The second MSW picked was apparently not up to par so the Sifu rejected it and selected another fruit.


Here’s the colour comparison.

As though testing me, the durian Sifu opening the fruit asked me “which one do you prefer?” 
“Jin Feng” was my reply. It was a winner in both smoothness of texture and a sweet richness that was unpretentious. He smiled knowingly and told me that it is only in season for two weeks. Ahh the joys of eating seasonal fruit… sort of the same highs as getting a limited edition of a luxury item. Total came to SGD 250 for 5 fruits. Not cheap but it came with Bernard’s personal guarantee.

I was getting these to go and it was a good way to see how it would be packed.


The durians were tipped into the usual plastic containers and then heat sealed in a bag. It did reduce the smell but as it was just one layer, the smell had begun to leak once I got into the car. Oh well we had it in “convertible mode” (windows down!). 

THE DEEP FREEZER FOR THE BODIES

There was a deep freezer in the corner of the store, I asked whether they could show me what they kept inside. No, just joking, there are no bodies here, just durian!


They had two categories in the freezer. One was packed premium Musang kings, all individually wrapped in cling film and packed tightly into more sturdy freezer friendly plastic box. The foil cover maintains the secrecy of what’s inside from prying eyes except that it wouldn’t fool an x-ray machine.  The other were standard takeaway style plastic boxes filled with the durians that were rejected, these are sold for processing to be recreated into purees and pulp for pastries etc. 


The premium grade frozen Musang kings go for SGD 110 per box and Bernard said that these were targeted to Indonesian clientele who liked to bring it home and eat it cold like ice cream. 

FACILITIES


I was reasonably impressed with the facilities, the shop was brightly lit, reasonably clean and free of bugs. There was a proper work table for the packing of the fruit and a nice wide and deep kitchen sink for washing hands and tools. The owners also had a bowl of candy out, presumably as an offering for drop ins or those needing to leave with a different flavour in their breath.


I noticed some durian brushes hung up at the side. It’s nice to keep your premium fruit looking cobweb and bug free. You can also see the different sized boxes available for travel takeaway next to their packaging materials ( i.e. Tape, scissors, heat sealing machine).

And if you go crazy excessive ordering and run out of cash, you can also pay by NETS and credit card.

I think this is a good place to take your guests for a durian experience (it’s important that first tries are good ones and at least Bernard and Kaida can curate). It’s covered so you can sit inside or in the covered walkway area if it rains. It’s also air conditioned for those who need it a little more luxe than the usual roadside haunts. 

Bernard’s perspective is that he caters for durian lovers. He gets his supplier to only select the best fruit from Johor and Pahang (Raub & Bentong specifically- well reputed and old durian plantations there). He says it’s expensive but he gets a guarantee on fruit quality. If it doesn’t pass the test, he says he gets to return or refund it. This is the same promise he offers his clients. They started out as fruit lovers and have now progressed to fruit vendors. 

Anyway back to the durians I bought. It was a gift to a friend. Our friend KM -a Kamoro indigenous tribe expert- is a durian lover. His wife GM even more so. They were so happy with the gift and really took time to savour every bite. Here’s the final evidence.

Seeds of Jin Feng and Musang King

Suggestion for property developers 

Durian, especially the Mao Shan Wang variety, has been exorbitantly priced this year. This article (Durian exports to China fruitful) reminds us why.

At this rate, it might be worth converting all that ringgit into land for a good durian plantation.. seems like it might be the best investment as it’s one of the Malaysian commodities that is actually continually increasing in value.

Perhaps those Chinese developers of forest city in Johor Bahru should consider putting fruit plantations on or adjacent to their property. This could entice buyers from China who are also durian lovers. Property & durian trees.. all long term investments.

Durian Potong Sticks

Perusing the frozen section at Taste

I have been resisting an urge to eat cheesecake for the last few days. It’s an active resistance, where I seek it out and then tell myself I shouldn’t eat it and leave the shop. Yeah what is wrong with me?! 

So there I was looking at the frozen cheesecakes…when eeeeek stop. Potong stick? Do they have durian flavour? Zoom in for close inspection. Yes!


Wow I was beside myself with excitement. Thing is I just went for a dental appointment today to fix my filling. My left lower jaw and cheek was completely numb. I had absolutely no intention of dribbling my durian Potong stick all over the floor. 

Oh why do they bring in the frozen stuff at winter time? It’s now sweater weather here in Hong Kong. Well, that doesn’t stop me. I will buy it tomorrow. 

Seriously good durian musang king pudding

Maybe I’m just feeling deprived. We went for brunch on Sunday to Cafe Malacca at Hotel Jen and ate a bit of every goodie we could find on the menu. I think I’ve pretty much had everything sans prawns (allergy). 

When my friend DW handed the menu around again for dessert, I just had to open my mouth and say… “I heard the durian pudding is good but I’ve never tried it…”

Picking up the cue, he immediately offered “want to share?” 

No need to ask twice. 

There are two durian puddings on the menu. There’s the regular durian pudding, then there is the durian musang king pudding. No brainer which one to choose right? 


I realised as soon as I helped myself that I’d forgotten to take a picture. So the perfect trapezoid is a little ruined. 


Ok this is the side view to give you a depth perspective. 

The dessert cup isn’t very big. But as the spoon is small, you do get approximately 15 mouthfuls of the smooth stuff. The durian has been blended and not a fibre remains. It is sweet but not cloyingly so. It is fragrant but not in a manner that you can smell it before you can taste it. 

Durian burps are guaranteed, though it’s not too embarrassingly strong. 

For HKD 68, not bad. Especially since we don’t have any of the real stuff to compare it to right now.

Looking forward to my durianic Christmas….it’s only a month away!

Penang Men’s Kitchen Cafe

I used to travel to Penang for work related meetings, usually planning them to coincide with the possibility of eating good food, and when in season,the best durian.

Now it seems that durian is available all year round in various desserts. I suspect that the durian fruit pulp industry is a getting larger than the fresh fruit distribution network. Certainly that is what is being reported (Durian exports to China Fruitful).

Mens Kitchen in Penang is one of the cafes making their own durian derived desserts.

I’ve not tried it yet but it all looks pretty good. 

Here are some other bloggers who’ve written up about it.

Steven Goh – nice review on the durian derivatives and other food served in the cafe. He also explains the meaning behind the name.

And 

Gibson – nice photos of all the food, and nice photos on the interesting drinks.. I’m keen to try the Doraemon.. how creative! 

Durian as a torture instrument

If you wanted to torture someone, say your husband for adultery, what implements would you use? Most would immediately think of kitchen utensils, stationery perhaps.

Thought you’d heard it all eh?

This lady caught her husband having an online affair and decided that he needed to be taught a lesson. She made him dress up in women’s underwear, stuck a Sani on his forehead and had him kneel on durian spikes as punishment. All while declaring his mistake and apologising to her. On video.

Ouch! 

Those thorns really are the strongest fruity weapons around.

I bet both his knees and ego must be hurting.

A special durian import from Singapore

I was so happy when JaQ contacted me informing me that she was coming to Hong Kong… and more importantly did I want any durian?

Well you all know the answer to that! I asked her to bring for me what she could reasonably carry without overburdening herself. We agreed on two boxes.

She told me that she’d obtain the durian from the stall in Dempsey which she had gone to a few nights before. She said the durian was delicious but that the season was ending. STOP. Let me interpret that for you. Season ending means price is on an upward trajectory. 

A few nights before, JaQ paid 23 SGD per kilo… by the time she got it for me, it had increased to 28 SGD per kilo. JaQ’s observation was that it was buying gold, with a daily spot price. She’s absolutely right! 

Anyway I asked her to take some photos for me so that I can share the experience. I have to say now that both the durian and the packaging was fantastic. A big thank you to JaQ for all the effort. Much appreciated.

Ok here we go:


Doesn’t look like much of a crowd that night. Three couples on a durian date… because it’s the ultimate test.


In the event you’d like to inquire and reserve your durians in advance.. the only way to secure the better quality fruit.


JaQ got me 3 durians, just about 4.5Kg.


Ooh look at the beautiful fruit… it got me salivating.., I could imagine the aroma…


As it was coming by air, it had to be properly sealed. The vendor uncle did a good job ensuring that the durian didn’t move within the container (individual wrapping in cling film takes care of that) and the paper absorbs moisture, prevents prying eyes and heat penetration.


Then everything slips into a vacuum bag for air-tight sealing. Not forgetting the label, of course. Nothing going in or out of that, not even a molecule of air. Yup.


The ringgit is really weak, good for Singaporeans who enjoy Malaysia imported food 🙂


JaQ even threw in a gift for me! Thanks JaQ! Freeze dried durian. I’ve opened it and had a few pieces but am saving it… it has to last me til Christmas when I return for my next fill!