A Durian Hunter’s Bonanza at the Food Fair in HKCEC

I was very happy to discover that PB is as much of a durian fanatic as I am. Except that I believe I have a pinch more self control than she does. Or maybe I just have more exposure to durians than she does. 

Anyway, the impromptu trip to the Food Fair in Wan Chai was revealing about our fondness for the stinky spikey fruit (she was willing to leave her 5 month old infant at home just for some private Durian time, a sign of true dedication to durians :)).

This Food Fair 2017 is the first I’ve attended since I’ve lived in Hong Kong. The crowds on a Friday mid afternoon was staggering… just as busy or maybe busier than the book expo. Ushers were stationed along the overhead walkway guiding people, they had also shut off the main walkway to the convention Center forcing people to exit and re-enter to the makeshift ticketing booths. The taxi queue was at least 30-45mins deep and cars weren’t being allowed to approach the main hall drop-off area. I had the baby in the carrier so I was accorded the privilege of going ahead in the queue. 

PB was late. Her taxi turned into the Hyatt hotel entrance but she didn’t realise that there wasn’t a connecting door to the convention Center. I got the twenty-five dollar tickets and waited for her by the entrance. 

When she arrived (all flustered) we headed straight up to the main exhibition hall area. Just like Art Basel, the organisers force you to head all the way down the corridor and enter from the fifth or sixth door. We went in and were amazed by the narrow corridor layout and the height of the booths, some of which towered two stories high full of LED lights. Promoters were standing on every corner handing out leaflets or just trying to get passers by to look at the products and gifts with purchase. 

There were lots of booths advertising durian but we soon discovered that most of these were selling durian pastries, snacks and moon cakes. There were only 2 booths selling fresh durian and a few booths selling frozen durian. I tried to take some photos but these really aren’t my best as we were trying to keep within 90 minutes and to cover the entire ground floor zone. It was a bit of a rush. We headed in and walked down to the end of the hall first, to work our way backwards.

The first booth we found selling the fresh stuff was Mr Durian.

Mao Shan wang on display at the Mr Durian booth


 The durians were priced at HKD 230 per kilo and their Mao Shang Wang durians were smallish, just over a kilo each. The booth next door was selling durian ice cream in a cup for HKD 100 each and some snacks and dried fruit. 

Dried durian for sale at Mr Durian booth

Fresh Mao Shan Wang for durian ice cream!!

Mao Shan Wang ice cream with fresh durian $100

Durian mochis and moon cakes at Mr Durian


We thought this was a pretty good booth and the durians looked fresh. Noted. Next. 

We cruised the aisles avidly searching out the next booth. Lots of booths selling durian biscuits and pastries… we just glanced at them and as this wasn’t our target, we moved on. 

Booth selling durian sandwich biscuit

Booth selling durian pastries and desserts

The Durian pastries that are so popular in Hong Kong

This booth specialised in Durian ice cream

Sampled the ice cream, a little too sweet

Durian biscuits, which ironically are artificially flavoured



Finally, towards the initial third of the hall, we came upon a booth decorated with lots of little durian stuffed toys. Well, it’s certainly one way to get attention.

Shared booth – sparkling juice and fresh durian!


 

Tree ripened Musang King Mao Shan Wang

HKD 488 per fruit and you can pay by EPS!

You can see the stuffed toy durians in this photo


They had a stack of fresh durian in husks piled high on the table. The price was marked as HKD 500 each. I approached and asked how many kilos each durian was. About 2 kilos was the answer. Not bad, but that would also be 2 kilos of uncertainty and disappointment if it didn’t turn out good. 

I made a memory mark of it and we moved on. PB spotted a booth with a massive Hello Kitty on it. 

Snow skin durian moon cake in a Hello Kitty Bag anyone?


Interestingly, they were selling durian mooncakes in a Hello Kitty cooler bag. She waved me over and had already started negotiations for two durian mochis. “Here,” she said, “try this.”

Negotiations taking place

Not too expensive

Thanks PB for my durian mochi 🙂

Nice cold durian mochi


Not bad,” I replied, trying to balance the second half of my mochi on the tiny stick of a toothpick. “Flavour is good and it had texture, but still nothing like the real thing.

We consumed the rest of it rapidly and threw the sticks in the bin. 

Durian powder ice cream packets


Then we encountered this booth selling durian powder which you can reconstitute and make your own ice cream. Hmm. Well I guess if you don’t have fresh or pulp to work with, this may have to do. It makes me wonder how many durian ice cream makers are using this powdered formula.

Finally in the A section of the hall, I found the durianBB booth. The organisers had spent a lot on branding and you can just tell they are begging for an Instagram shot for your social media profile. 


Loaded with bags, boxes with their logos and staff all t-shirted up in the same, their booth felt cramped and there was a staff ratio of 5 per client visitor so it felt a bit much. 

The durianBB booth

Ice cream samples for tasting

Packaged frozen durian. But you can’t see what’s inside


They were plugging the durian ice creams, durian moon cakes, frozen durian, durian mochis… but no fresh durians. And it didn’t seem inexpensive.. there wasn’t an apparent discount or promo for buyers at the fair. So, we looked and reflected and they offered us some durian ice cream to try but it just wasn’t what we were into. 

So it was back to Mr. Durian

Pretty funny logo. Imagine eating durian in a suit?


We were contemplating which durian to pick up and share when a chinese guy sporting sunglasses and a durian ice cream cone appeared beside us and gestured for ten. Immediately the staff sprang into action, swiftly picking ten durians off our table (well technically not our table but it was where we were in our mid selection reverie). 

Hey!” PB exclaimed,”we were just trying to pick one!

Well“, I told PB,”good durians wait for no man… if we want to get it, better hurry and choose or the table will be swept clean!” This was, after all, the first day of the fair and the best would still be on sale. The guy produced $1500 and still managed to get some change for the ten durians. The staff were busy opening the husks to show the client then packed the durians in newspaper and into a plastic bag each. 

Wrapping the whole durian in newspaper for the chinese buyer


We wasted no more time. Once the staff had settled his purchase we got them to recommend one and open it for us, splitting it into two boxes. It looked and smelled good. 

Splitting the durian


PB looked and looked. She ended up buying a box of mixed durians to try. “What do you think?” She asked. It was a box of Jin feng, 101, red prawn and something else. I told her that those were all good breeds and worth a try. Those boxes cost only $100 each so she happily added it to her bag. 

The mixed box of durian


After the small splurge, we walked casually toward the exit and parted ways. She by taxi and me on foot. 

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PB messaged me that evening saying that she had devoured her entire lot to the ire of her husband. She couldn’t keep any in the fridge as he can’t stand the smell.. hence she ate it all in pretty much one sitting. 

I kept mine til the next night in the fridge when SW and I could have it leisurely. It was reliable Musang king, very enjoyable. 

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    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


    Google plus code: 7PJP75HG+7J

    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. 

    Durianbb.com

    I was walking toward a flyover near Gloucester Road when I saw this scruffy looking poster.

      
    Most of the company’s details at the bottom were hidden due to “competition overlap” but fortunately they had the good sense to put their website right there in the center.

    Durianbb sells durian whole, durian ice gelato bars, durian coffee and durian mochi. On the website you can see their products, stockists and how they carefully pack the durian fruit for shipment.

    None of the stockists are near me… So it’ll be an adventure when I embark on the search. Or maybe I’ll just order online. 

    Durianbb.com is all in chinese.

    Durian Daifuku

    I was walking towards home today when I decided to check out a frozen meat shop. Ah Wong Fine Food Company. Despite its name, it isn’t a gourmet shop as much as a gourmet stall… An impressive number of freezers packed into a very tight corner. The last time I walked by, there were some impressive listings of imported meat and seafood, at cheaper prices then what you can get at the supermarket.

      
    These shops paste sheets of A4 paper- often hand written- of what the item is and the price by weight. 

    I bought some imported beef slices and as I was leaving, spotted this:

      
    What on earth was that? I wondered. Since I was already a client, I was less shy about asking. 

    Boss, I said in my crappy Cantonese, what is durian daifuku?

    The boss replied in Cantonese, it’s something you eat and drink.

    ???

    I persisted: Is it frozen? 
    Yes he said. 

    Well can I see it? I want to know what it is. Where is it from?
    It’s from Malaysia he replied. 

    Then scrabbling around a freezer in front of me, yanked out this box.

      
    Ah. Durian mochi. Made from pure durian pulp. Apparently haven for durian lovers.. Do they mean heaven? 

    I thanked him and told him to put it back. The meat I had bought would thaw nicely on the way home in time for lunch. The durian mochis will be for another time. 

    It’s just hilarious that they made it sound Japanese… In chinese characters it says Da Fu or Dai Fu in Cantonese (meaning big wealth) but they added a ku on the end of it.

    45 Hkd per box isn’t much, less than 7USD. For 8pcs, that works out to be less than 1USD per piece (or bite). It doesn’t state what type of durian it’s made of. I’ve paid more for an ice cream stick so maybe this might be worth a go.

    Durian dessert shop on Sharp Street East

    We planned to have dessert at Cao Song last Sunday. Until we saw the queue. Forget it, I said to our little group of six, we weren’t going to hang around for an hour on a pavement barely shoulder width wide. Not with three kids in tow.

    The next dessert shop in the street was Dessert Playground. It was deserted, not a single customer… definitely a bad sign. Well, we needed somewhere to sit so we took the plunge. A rather confusing menu was presented.

      
    Oddly enough, this fluorescent lit shop with bright green awnings had a list of chinese desserts but seemed to specialise in durian derived desserts. There was a lot to choose from.

    Everyone else went for the chinese desserts or the western cakes… I ordered the Mau Sang Wang ice stick for HKD 68 (D24 version costs HKD 38).

      
    The ice cream was edible, suitably creamy without any artificial under or overtones. It was well made without a high water content so you don’t get that brittle ice texture where it all comes apart with each bite. Downside was that it was smaller than I expected and the presentation on an ugly plastic plate was disappointing.

    All the other desserts ordered, chocolate cake, coconut pho, the chinese soups were just awful and quite inedible. They tasted straight out of a packet. 

    Verdict: great for groups needing a place for a rest as it’s almost always empty (I think I’ll remember it as desert playground). Get a durian ice cream or a drink, all other desserts are poor quality.

    Discover Durians and Peruvian Food at the same time

    If you are in Hong Kong today, tonight is your last chance to check out the Discover Peru buffet at Hotel Icon. Sorry for the late notice but we only went to lunch yesterday.

    The Peruvian food was delicious, if you go, I highly recommend that you try the ceviche (Peruvian style sashimi) and the Peruvian Shrimp soup which was a highlight. As I went with the Peruvian group here, the dishes were especially authentic and the chef made up a little bit of extra ceviche for our table. Those corn pops (equivalent of beer nuts I’m told) were simply yummy.

    Anyway, the Icon Hotel’s restaurant called the Market, has an extensive buffet selection with great presentation. The dessert counter was especially impressive with its nice decor, and of course a fascinating range of durian desserts which I have rarely come across in any hotel buffet.

    Here are pictures of what’s available.

    Deep Fried Durian Puffs

    Deep Fried Durian Puffs

     

    First up, durian puffs. I sent SW off to get some dessert and he came back all bright eyed as though he’d dug up some secret treasure. Inside, whole pieces of durian that would fit in the palm of your hand were wrapped in a rice flour and deep fried. Nice flavor but I couldn’t tell if it was MSW or really ripe Monthong.

    Probably not the healthiest, but if you’re after healthy, you shouldn’t be anywhere near this counter.

     

     

    Durian Cheesecake Squares

    Durian Cheesecake Square

     

     

    Next up, the durian cheese cake. Lightly baked, this was a nice size to leave you with two bites.

     

     

     

     

     

    Here’s a baked durian cheese morsel. I’m not a big fan of tarts so I didn’t try this but guess it;s a crunchy rendition of the cheesecake.

    Baked Durian Cheese Morsels

    Baked Durian Cheese Morsels

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Durian Pannacotta

    Durian Pannacotta

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This is the durian panna cotta, nicely presented.

    Mao Shan Wang Ice Cream

    Mao Shan Wang Ice Cream

     

     

    And finally the durian ice cream.

     

     

     

     

    The ice cream was quite delicious. Full on cold MSW which was cold, creamy and pure durian. Even ZI loved it.

    Mao Shan Wang Ice Cream Close up

    Mao Shan Wang Ice Cream Close up

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    So if you have nothing on for dinner, maybe check out the restaurant at the ICON in East TST tonight.

    The Market Restaurant @ ICON Hotel

    The Market Restaurant @ ICON Hotel