Durian deception: When a durian snack is not a durian snack

You would generally expect that when you buy a durian snack you’d be getting a snack with durian in it. You would be hoping for that creamy texture….. that aromatic-pungent scent….. the tinge of bitterness when it melts on your tongue…

Not the overwhelming cloying sweetness of straight up sugar and egg. 

Let’s survey a few durian snacks sold around the shops here and see what they contain.

1) Durian cakes – classic flavour, with “Rich Durian Flavour”. 

The picture looks positively delicious. There’s a sponge cake exterior (thinking kueh bahalu here) and a durian filled interior. Made by a company called Natural House that takes the effort to emphasise Natural (自然). There’s a nice picture of a durian revealing its fantastic interior just by the cake. This was sold at Save More


Now let’s examine the ingredients.


Ok maybe that’s a little too small to read, but you can see the pictoral description on the back of the box. Zoom in a little will ya.


If you look at the ingredients closely you will realise that you are being led astray. There is no durian in this cake whatsoever. Instead, you’d be consuming flour, emulsifiers, palm oil and a bunch of sugars and artificial flavours. E450, E500, E341, E102, E471, E282. Thank you for declaring the artificial ingredients in detail.

Would I buy this? NO. Not even for HKD 18 (USD 3) My poor liver would be crying out in pure torment.

2) Kai Kee Durian Egg Rolls. (Note that the durian version costs 20% more than the Coffee and Curry flavours.)


Nice packaging ✅ , pricing not exorbitant ✅ , good looking durian in the cover ✅ , from Malaysia ✅ . 

Now let’s flip it over and see what’s within.


Ok, so the ingredients are: Egg, Sugar, Wheat Flour, Rice flour, coconut milk, durian paste, durian flavour (flavour). 

I take it that the last ingredient is actually artificial durian flavouring. No E colours or numbers stated but I think they must be lumped under that last ingredient.

Well, at least there’s some durian paste that went into it, though it may be less than 1%.

Would I buy this? Maybe. It’s the same contents as egg rolls just with durian flavour for HKD 58 (USD 8). Or how about we just stick with the plain egg rolls…. 

3) Kai Kee “durian ice cream cookies”

As an alternative to the egg rolls, Kai Kee also has these cookies for sale. 

So they are “handmade” and a durian flavour.  Let’s flip it over.


What? It’s worse than the egg rolls. It is only flavoured with durian…. hmm. Yet again, no declaration of E numbers that went into this.

4) Homei Durian kaya

If you love kaya like me, you would always be on the lookout for kaya. Nothing beats fresh kaya… I usually get a bottle or two if anyone is coming from Singapore or Malaysia. This brand of durian kaya from Homei is distributed in several shops in Wanchai. You’ll find the same product cheapest at the Save More store in Wanchai market’s Stone Nullah Lane. It’s less than HKD 20 per bottle.


For those who are uninitiated in the ways of kaya, it’s largely made from coconut milk  but is often cooked with Pandan leaves to impart a fragrance to the runny texture.

Did any durian make its way into the kaya?


Sugar is the first and the largest component (don’t get a heart attack reading this), followed by durian at 25%, egg at 15%, water, corn starch, salt and colouring E102. Find out more about the ubiquitous E102 here.

Would I buy this? No. I can wait till the next visitor from Singapore or Malaysia comes and brings me a tub of fresh Killeney kopitiam kaya

None of those E colours thank you. 


5) Durian pralines by Hemelz


I saw these pralines in Singapore’s Tanglin Mall supermarket during Chinese New Year (February) and was intrigued enough to take a photo. 

The three top ingredients are durian paste, vegetable fat and sugar though the relative quantities are not stated. 

Would I buy it? Maybe. Just to satisfy my curiosity.

🐱🐱🐱🐱🤸🏻‍♂️🤸🏻‍♂️do more exercise if you’re consuming this much sugar..

If it’s off season and you’re craving some durian, I highly recommend the lyophilised (aka freeze dried) version. It’s definitely lost the texture of the fresh durian but the flavours are released nicely on your palate and you know there’s nothing else adulterating it.

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Packaged durian cake from Thailand

In the basement supermarket Jason’s in Mongkok’s Langham Place, the only durian related item available was this.


I thought the location was a little strange. These durian cakes were on a shelf next to other dried fruit products like raisins, dried strawberries and blueberries, even apple purée.

Well I suppose if you’re looking for dried fruit it could also mean you’re looking for durian :).

Direct from Pahang: where to find Musang King all year round in Hong Kong

I was at the “Wan Chai- Shibuya style” crossing, waiting to get to the other side of Hennessy Road. My eagle eyes and super sharp durian radar are always on “search mode” (sort of like the Terminator or Robocop, maybe like the spaceship scanners in the Matrix). What was that on the other side of the six lane road??


You can’t go wrong with a name like that. No mincing of words, no mystery, no guessing. A shop called Musang King must be all about the King, only the King and nothing else. Right?

I popped in for a look. 

It was a small shop (replaced the Ice.licious whimsical popsicle store), just wide enough to fit the freezers and fridges, leaving enough room for clients to get in there, buy and leave. It’s not a cafe and there’s no reason to hang around. On the day I went, there were three female staff on duty. It seemed a little excessive given that XTC makes do with one given a similar space and set up. Perhaps it’s just temporary staff for the opening sales… they may be expecting hoards of people.


Everything was in the fridge. It was Glass panelled so that you can see what’s for sale and how much for. There was an interesting array of durian derived sweet and savouries, ranging from durian filled baos (buns), durian pizza (uh huh) and durian crepes and assorted tarts.


The Durian Musang king ice cream sticks were particularly appealing to me.. it was a sweltering hot day and I salivated at the thought of a cold Musang king. 


There was also packaged frozen D24 durian for sale and frozen whole durians, both D24 and Musang Kings.

On the counter next to the fridges sat a heated display unit with some puff pastries. 

I asked the staff where the products were made, in malaysia or here?



All in Malaysia
, came the reply (according to their FB page, they’re located in Raub, Pahang). Except for these in the heated display unit. These, she gestured, were made by us here.

I made up my mind to try a durian popsicle. Attempting to help myself, I tugged at the freezer door handle. 


To my surprise, I couldn’t open the door. That’s when I realised it was locked! Hmm. Was it to prevent thieves from running off with a few boxes of delicious, expensive biomaterial or just to prevent the temperature fluctuations from repeated door opening and closing? 

One of the ladies saw what I was trying to do and sprung into action.

“What are you trying to get?” She asked

Durian ice cream” was my reply.

“You want one or one box?” 

Just one please, if it’s good I’ll come back for more.” 

She went behind the little counter and pulled my requested popsicle out of another freezer. 

Eating it now or later?

Now I said.

She tore the box open for me and cut the top of the plastic packaging so that I could hold on to the stick.


I slipped it out of the packaging and walked out into the street with it. What great free advertising for the shop.


The ice cream was smooth and well emulsified. It had a nice bite to it and melted smoothly in the mouth. Texture 8/10. Taste wise, it was very sweet with no hint of bitter. 6/10.. 


It was all done by the time I reached Johnston road. The burp that made itself known came about 20 minutes later with the very distinct digested durian aroma. 7.5/10. 

I guess these durian popsicles are made in big batches but how much more interesting would it be if you could select a bitter popsicle?

This shop that started in the autumn of last year only does frozen stuff, most practical cold chain from Malaysia I suppose. They are now actively distributing to China. Its ok for a popsicle but if you prefer fresh fruit, you’ll just have to wait until durian season (starting soon).

Find Pahang Musang King at 263 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai. About 7 minute walk from the MTR station or 4 minutes walk from the Fleming/Burrows Tram stop.

Pahang Musang King, Hennessy Road, Wan Chai


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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! 

Updated post to the City Super milkshake

A friend, BY is a durian fan here in HK and after she saw the last post, she decided to give it a try. Twice.

Her opinion:

It was ok. I’m not sure what durian they used. It was frozen from a box that resembled durian ice cream. I asked but the guy didn’t know. Second time around, I asked him to add more of the durian which he did. The flavour was stronger and better.

Tip:

So if you’re going to make it worth your trip to get it, try asking for another scoop of durian in your milkshake ;).