First proper Mao Shan Wang this August 2016

Hooray!!! Oh how I’ve missed eating good durian.

After what seemed to be an eternal time waiting for the right time to purchase a good Mao Shan Wang durian, we finally took the plunge last Sunday. 

I’ve been scoping out the market daily and the supermarkets too. City Super sells the pricier stuff (labelled Cat Mountain King) for between 400-900 HKD per fruit (smaller cheaper ones weigh around 1.3Kg), that started about two weeks ago. 

August 1st, Causeway Bay City Super. Durians on sale

When Malaysian durians finally hit the shelves at the Taste supermarket, it was a clear indication that the season had really begun. 

August 12th, durian on sale at Taste

The packets in the supermarket are nothing great though, often slightly too ripe and already a little molested in the packaging stages. 

In the Wan Chai indoor fresh fruit market, the stall blaring pop hits (on your left as you enter the doors from Queens Road East) had two on display in their refrigerated shelf. 

“The smaller one is 390, the larger one 500” came the response to my inquiry. We decided to take the larger one hoping to satisfy the cravings of three people. Mind you, large isn’t very large, the durian weighed less than 2.3 Kg for sure. 

Here we go….

I asked the fruit sellers to cut the durian for me for easy opening, we wanted to take it with its shell on to avoid damage and keep the aromas in. 

The durian flesh was a delightfully bright yet rich yellow, reminds me of the intense shade of sunflower petals. The whiff I had confirmed that it was worth paying for. 

As we opened the entire durian fruit, I was pleased to see that there were no signs of dry edges or fruit that was also too wet. It was a durian in more or less perfect condition. 

There were some stringy textures but that’s quite normal. Overall the flesh was smooth and silky though there were some interesting taste variations from pellicle to pellicle… One particular pellicle was a bit more bitter than the others… But not in a bad way.

I was also pleased to see that the flesh was well filled out in the pellicle and that every segment was equally inviting. No disappointments on fruit opening. 

The misshapened seeds characteristic of the Mao Shan Wang were larger than I had hoped  but that’s not something that I can complain about. 
FYI, also in season at City Super are the insanely large and inordinately expensive watermelons… Which also come in cube shapes!

Eating organic Malaysian durians in Macau

My aunt was at the bak kut teh stall and was planning to cross over to our favourite Imbi durian seller. The dudes who own the bak kut teh stall stopped her and told her not to buy any. Instead, the owner said that his wife is now in the durian and travel agency business, please support by having some of our durian sourced from an organic farm. 

Initially suspicious, she came round to the idea as the owner said it was free, no charge. The durians didn’t look bad and she thought they smelled okay so she agreed. When he packed eight packets for her however, she felt bad and insisted he take at least 100RM for the fruit, paying another 50RM to have them double vacuum seal packed for the flight. The double sealed packing held up well and there was absolutely no trace of durian scent whatsoever.

He didn’t want to take the cash saying that all he wanted was support for his wife’s travel agency business.. Please refer any bookings his way. 

If there’s one thing about Chinese business practices, it’s all about owing and calling in debts or favours.. This is something my aunt didn’t want to owe, hence the 100RM and a subsequent gift in return.

She brought the packets up to Macau, where we met for the weekend. Proudly, she announced that the durians were “organic”. We opened the packs with much anticipation by the deserted poolside of the five star hotel we stayed at, late at night well after dinner.

The aroma was good, sufficiently pungent and sweetish. The taste, was a different matter. The first bite in revealed a fermented almost gassy texture. We definitely didn’t fall in love at first bite. Tossing those seeds and selecting a few others, we managed to salvage about 30% which were nowhere near good but we all felt bad that these had come all the way only to go straight into the garbage. 

Truly a disappointing experience, the seeds were large and the flavour was off. I told my aunt that it would be better to pay 200RM for one single pack of singularly delightful durian experience than to have to wade through 8 packs of lousy fruit that should be relegated to the flesh for processed durian desserts.

Perhaps these trees were not of a good breed, or needed more time to mature. Without speaking to the owner, it’s anyone’s guess.

Good luck Fillmore! Attempting a mini durian plantation

Fillmore wrote to me some time ago asking if I could send him some durian seeds for his garden. It took a while due to my own dry spell of good durians. Either the seeds had been frozen before (and therefore no longer reliable), or they just didn’t look like good seeds to grow (see this previous post if you need to know what this means).

Anyway on a recent trip back to durian motherland, I managed nothing short of a heist to bring this back for personal enjoyment. It was only one box but soooo delightful. It was a Mao Shan Wang (Musang king), which had large and little seeds. I selected six of the largest, packaged them and sent them off to Fillmore in the Philippines by registered parcel post.

The durians. MSW's from Malaysia.

The durians. MSW’s from Malaysia.

Here’s what Fillmore had to say…..

Hi Stinky Spikes!. . . . I am so happy to let you know that just received yesterday afternoon September 9, 2014 all six (6) durian seeds you sent me via Hong Kong. At that time i just recovered from a fever and colds, but upon seeing the durian seeds, the fever just disappeared. I now planted it in some pots filled with top soil to grow. Are those seeds of the precious Musang King variety? Again, a million thanks to you for those seeds, I will pray that you will always have good health and more blessings to come. Again, thank you.

He got them on the day of the mid Autumn festival, how auspicious! I hope that you’ll invite me for fruit if they grow into trees🙂

After Dinner Durian in Kuala Lumpur

On a recent trip to KL, I invited AC over for dinner. It had rained in the afternoon and we wanted to stay home to avoid the traffic at rush hour. She said that she would love to come over for dinner and exclaimed “I haven’t eaten durian since the last time you were here! I will go buy some as dessert.”

I wasn’t sure if she would, as she would have had to brave the traffic all the way to Jalan Imbi and back. Well, as sure as my salmon was in the oven and baking for dinner, AC turned up with the durian dessert. Initially we left the trademark rose red plastic bag on the table and didn’t want to touch it until after we had our dinner (you will soon see why this plan worked).

Right after we ate our dinner, I was pretty excited to get started on the dessert.

Go on mum” I said, “let’s open the durians!

My mum was a bit surprised that I had space for durians after the big meal, but as I have maintained for years, dessert compartments do not overlap with main dinner compartments.

Air sealed durian packaging

Air sealed durian packaging


So here’s why I could have my durians post dinner instead of having it as an appetizer. It was air sealed and there was no smell! So one of my main senses was deprived and hence… less temptation. AC told me that the Jalan Imbi durian uncle was rather proud of his new packaging, specifically pointing it out to her when she bought it. He told her that this way, no smell gets into the car. I suspect that this also serves the hordes of chinese tourists who want to bring some back to their hotel room or their home country via their luggage. They usually descend on his stall by coach loads and like a swarm of locusts, consume all the durian in sight.

Mum got a pair of scissors and exposed the wonderful durian fragrance which permeated the entire room.

Mao Shan Wang in March

Mao Shan Wang in March

And here is the first packet. Looking pretty good and tasting rich, smooth and creamy like a brut champagne.

MSW box 2

MSW box 2

The next box was equally delicious but had a different taste (one box contains fruit from one durian). It was a little softer, more pliant and a little watery. It had stronger bitter undertones and less of the sweetness. The thing about durian is that you can’t ever find fruits to compare which have the same texture but different tastes or the same taste but different textures. That is one of the wonderful surprises that durian has to offer. This is true even of fruit from the same tree.

Here is the final evidence.

Seeds of the Mao Shan Wang

Seeds of the Mao Shan Wang

The seeds are classically mis-shapened and small, most of Mao Shan Wang is the satisfying taste of sunshine.

Durian Mobilization 2013

10th August 2013

Dr. Leslie Tay of ieat.ishoot.ipost couldn’t have chosen a better weekend. The Muslim celebration of Hari Raya Eidulfitri coincided with Singapore’s National Day weekend and gave everyone within 2 hours flight a nice 4-day vacation. So the 10th of August 2013 was the day that was chosen for the Durian Degustation XII, which became a more ambitious project and evolved into a “Durian Mobilization” (borrowing terms from the national service here!). At 35 SGD per person, a donation towards a charitable cause and a promise to appreciate different cultivars, we couldn’t think of a better way to spend an evening.

Durian Mobilization Activity Board

Durian Mobilization Activity Board

Under the large canopy of the Telok Ayer Community Center, everyone began to take their places by 6.30pm (even though the event was due to start only at 7.30pm). Since it was a free seating event with everyone bringing their own picnic mats and other paraphernalia, it was a good idea to get there reasonably early. The event was well organized and controlled, numbers marked out assigned “spaces” where groups of 6-12 people would sit together. I was to meet up with Jessica and sit with her group. “Meet me at the back of the community center at 7” she said, “that’s where they’ll be unloading the durians”.


We parked the car a block away and took a nice stroll via the park at the back of the community center. As we approached the car park for the community center, we saw lots of people milling around…. the durians!

Baby checking out the durians

Baby checking out the durians

All the durians were looking fresh and prickly with long stems on (a very good indication of freshness) and neatly stacked in baskets. Each basket was labelled clearly with the cultivar.

The Durians are a-waiting

The Durians are a-waiting

Was there any intention in the order of the baskets?

Eating from left to right

Eating from left to right

Well, I think if you read chinese script, the direction is always top to bottom and left to right. If you look at the photo above, I think you can deduce which durians were thought to be popular with the crowd. The small stacks are for “appreciation” while the larger stacks are for “consumption”. The higher the stack, the more to go around. I’d say the D13’s and the MSW’s win hands down. There were some tables parallel to the baskets and the supplier had left his name card out for anyone who still maintains a rolodex.

Ah Seng's Durian Contact Card

Ah Seng’s Durian Contact Card

“Come come” motioned Jessica ” we need to get you guys registered. The registration is over at the end here and we’ll be sitting at placemat number 9.”

We left our various mats and bags with Jessica’s family and the friendly group and headed over to the registration table.

Pay your money and get your tag here

Pay your money and get your tag here

Everyone came casually dressed, prepared for warm weather and a rather breezeless evening. Despite the lack of any fans, I am pleased to report that there were no mosquitoes in sight and it was quite cool due to the overcast day. The registration counter took our details and issued us wrist tags (ala disco clubs or F1).

Maybe the only participant who didn't get tagged...

Am I the only one without a tag here?

Walking past the event billboards, we noticed a table strategically placed in the middle by the stage. This was the real advertisement and menu for the event and the press. Each fruit was placed in eating sequence with a little descriptive notecard.

The table of ANTICIPATION: durians on display

The table of ANTICIPATION: durians on display


Durians at dusk under the Hong Lim Telok Ayer CC Canopy

Durians at dusk under the Hong Lim Telok Ayer CC Canopy

After rounds of introductions and getting comfortable on our little picnic mat, we realized that after a while, none of us could really hear each other that well anymore. The loud pumping music in the background (yes, there was a live DJ and loudspeakers) matched the din of everyone trying to have a conversation. It was getting dark and if it had been quiet, we would have probably heard some stomachs growling. The seating area probably reached almost full capacity. In his opening speech, Dr. Leslie Tay welcomed all 300+ participants and shared the program for the evening. He mentioned that some participants had probably starved themselves all day for this durian buffet, but it was in fact not a buffet but more of a tasting session. he said that Ah Seng -the durian supplier partner he worked with- had imported 900Kg of durian for the event. So that would be approximately less than 3Kg of durian per person. (Well, durians are weighed with the husks which effectively make it heavier. One durian can weigh between 2-3 Kg, so effectively each person would be consuming one durian each :)).

Eagerly awaiting the announcement

Eagerly awaiting the announcement

Dr. Leslie organized this event with the Singapore Kindness Movement, so the Chairman got to tell everyone to be nice to one another. Everyone was nice there but I think it would have been an interesting test to put all the durians out and see what happens in a free-for-all. The durians were served to each group, to prevent fights and general chaos I suppose (note that the Genting event was also supposed to be organized like this).

Dr. Leslie Tay and the Singapore Kindness Movement Chairman

Dr. Leslie Tay and the Singapore Kindness Movement Chairman

Then Dr. Leslie introduced the star of the show, Ah Seng the durian man. Everyone was much more interested in him!

Ah Seng and his brother at the opening speech

Ah Seng and his brother at the opening speech

Once all the introductions were done, it was time to get on with the show. Dr. Leslie gave the nod and Ah Seng went on stage to tell everyone about the first durian we were about to experience…. the Black Pearl (not from the Pirates of the Caribbean, that’s a different Black Pearl). So drumroll….. dum dum dum dee dum…… and like the start of a chinese wedding dinner, out marched the volunteers carrying a basket with a fruit to be delivered to each group of durian fanatics. Now for the durian photos…..

The first 2 durians on the menu

The first 2 durians on the menu

Everyone in my group was very courteous, no snatching, no hoarding and no fingering (excuse the lingo) of the fruit. The fruit laden husks were proffered around and each person picked their piece. Next up the Ang Hae…

Here you go... this is is a nice looking ang hae durian...

Here you go… this is is a nice looking ang hae durian…

Then the XO….


And then everything in between and then the Mao Shan Wang

Delicious Mau Shan Wang

Delicious Mau Shan Wang

What was that about the durian shell enzymes again?

What was that about the durian shell enzymes again?

Photogenic durians all of them. Check out this tiny seed.

Seeds so small you have to pick it out of your mouth

Seeds so small you have to pick it out of your mouth


Mao Shan Wang Durian

The thing about eating durian slowly in courses is that it fills you up. People wonder why the mediterranean and french people are slim, that’s because it’s not just what they eat but how they eat it. A french lunch is typically taken seriously and slowly, savoring every bite. So you eat less over a longer period of time. All of us could definitely have eaten more if the durian was placed in front of us all at once in boxes (hands up those who can easily finish a box of durians from the fridge). Being served just ensures that the timing was well spaced out (I guess also to let your palate recharge) and that you eat at a slower pace. Hence eating less but feeling full by the time we got to the end. I have mixed feelings about whether there should have been quite as many durian types served. When we got to the MSW, everyone was pretty full and some already had quite enough of durian. So the appreciation was less in a way.

While all the durian lovers were chowing down and listening to the interesting narratives by Dr. Leslie (quips like “Durian husks contain enzymes so wash your hands in it after eating”; “i should invent a durian detergent”; “Is it a myth that you shouldn’t eat durian and drink” etc), there was a lot going on behind the scenes. Check it out in my next post.

A taste of Durians from Medan

After all this time that I’ve been visiting Jakarta, I’ve seen local Indonesian durians for sale (usually from Medan) but never bought any to try. Well, that all changed last week when I decided to take the plunge for the first time.

I was out to buy some peaches for a friend at the Total Fruit Store in Jalan Wolter Monginsidi and of course the display caught my eye.

Monthong and Medan Durians for Sale at the Total Buah Segar

Monthong and Medan Durians for Sale at the Total Buah Segar

We are definitely already in the midst of durian season and I’ve been eyeing the Monthong durians for sale at the GrandLucky but succeeded in holding off my purchase as it just doesn’t smell or look as good as the ones we get in KL.

But durian deprivation finally got a hold of me and I thought a good way to get rid of the craving would be to try something new. I had to take a closer look.

Small Medan Durian Fruits

Small Medan Durian Fruits

OK, not too unfriendly pricing. The one on the left is equivalent to 5.6 uSD and the one on the right is 6.3 USD. Not too bad I guess. I contemplated for a short while and picked up the one on the left because the fruit didn’t look quite as “squashed” from handling and packaging. It’s a pity that it’s just labelled as “Durian Medan”. It’s as if there is just one type… which would seem very unusual to me. Perhaps there just isn’t the breeding and cultivation industry as there is in Malaysia.

We attended a dinner that evening so we didn’t end up consuming it on the same day. I stuck it in the freezer for another evening. We didn’t wait too long.

Here’s a picture of the durian post thaw:

Nice Color

Nice Color

Color looked great but what was disappointing was the lack of the usual durian aromas which are so important to kick the saliva glands and neural connections into overdrive. Oh well, we’ll give it a try anyway.

Saving the Durian for last

Saving the Durian for last

Durians should always be eaten last or solo among fruits. The taste is usually overwhelming and even the best ripe Californian peaches and grapes will be bland compared to it.

So the taste test.

MMMmmmmm Durian....

MMMmmmmm Durian….


Aroma: C

Flavor: C

Color (vs expectation): B-

Texture: B

Size of seed: Large (compared to pellicle)

Overall rating: C

I thought it was generally lousy compared to Malaysian durians but am open to re-rating if I get a better sample. No wonder Indonesians fly in to KL to eat durians.





Organic durian

Mum was off to Europe and told me that she left some “organic durian” in the freezer and that I should eat eat when next home. It was most exciting, I was very curious as to what this organic durian might mean to its taste and texture. Upon defrosting (ideally leave it for around 4 hours at room temperature), it smelled pungent and distinctly durian. The color was not too intense yellow (so not a musang king) but had the same creamy texture. It looked like it was probably a small-ish durian judging from the size of each piece of delicious fruit. Not too bitter, not too sweet, the smell definitely won hands down but the taste was (in my opinion) fairly standard. Not bad but also not the best I’ve had.

If you look closely at the seeds, some are full and round, while some are odd shaped and sort of reminiscent of a baroque pearl. This is quite unusual as most seeds in a musang king tend to be somewhat odd shaped, while the D24s and the kampong durian variety tend to yield very evenly shaped egg-like seeds.

Hmm. There’s another pack in the freezer for next time and I wonder if I’ll feel differently about it when I next try it. I’ll also find out when mum gets back, where the source of the organic durian is from and what makes it more “organic” than others…(supposedly the pesticide sprays but who knows…)