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!

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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 ;).

Do you like Cendol and Durian? Feel like splurging on calories this Ramadan?

Cendol durian reigns supreme 

If anyone is visiting greater KL and feeling like they just need one bowl of a good durian dessert, this might be a place to hit. It’s far out and I’ve not been there myself so I can’t vouch for it, but the contributor of the article seems to be raving about it. 

According to the article, Durian Cendol is the star attraction here. They offer both durian tembaga (D118, see description here) from Thailand and, when in season, the Musang King. RM 15 per bowl gets a portion of Cendol with perhaps one or two seeds of durian flesh. Of course the sweetness of the Santan and the smoothness of Cendol can be absolutely addictive. (Quick mention for best Cendol in Penang, without durian but totally delicious on a hot sunny afternoon. Fantastic post lunch treat, as long as you don’t overstuff yourself with Kway teow!).

Worth it? If anybody tries, please let me know 🙂

If you’re celebrating Ramadan, do check out the additional stalls they’ve added during this festive season.

Here are some maps to give you a perspective of where the stall is (I’ve done a gradual zoom in)… You’ll definitely need a car and I reckon it’ll take you at least 1.5 hours to get there from KLCC excluding peak hour traffic.

Thai Durian Sale at the Wellcome Supermarket in Causeway Bay

We had a crazy day at IKEA. But that’s usually how it is on a Saturday afternoon. The only comfort I had was that a good 30% of the shoppers were stuck at Sogo’s “Thankful Week” madhouse sale. 

I’d popped in to Wellcome (block between Sogo and IKEA) just before our trip to IKEA to buy a pack of chocolate milk for the small person. While in the queue to pay, I spotted an indoor  durian stall. The staff were busy ripping up the durian husks and re-packaging the flesh into plastic boxes. 

It didn’t smell at all…“you can only do this with Thai durian, I thought. 

Sure enough, it was Thai durian that looked pretty good. The flesh was a rich golden hue and the packaging looked robust. Those packers did a good job. 


The lack of any aroma or scent was a deal breaker for me. I’m a nose-y person and if it doesn’t smell good then I’m much less inclined to try it. 


It was the first time that I’ve seen a sign in the supermarket warning customers about the spikes.. Though it’s so small and below line of sight that I doubt anyone would really notice.

A splendid durian for San Francisco friends

SM & MM informed us about their visit to Hong Kong for a short trip of two days we were extremely excited. I inquired whether there was anything that they wanted me to purchase in advance.

MM said she wanted my help to get some creams for her (cheaper here than US) and some Si Chuan tofu which I introduced her to last time she was here. What else?

  
So it was an All Caps emphatic YES to durian

I’ve been walking past our durian seller daily and noticed a constant display of durian. Curious, I thought as it is now off peak for all durians, including our favourite Mao Shan Wang

The boss’s wife revealed to me that they have a special arrangement with two farms in Pahang who send them whatever falls from their trees, and now was the best time to eat it as it was at its most flavourful. I was a little suspicious but this fruit seller does get the best fruit in all of WanChai, durian included. 

Now MM’s visit presented the most wonderful opportunity to buy one to try. Due to its price, our little household will only buy it as a treat ;).

So on a Saturday evening, after we had spent much of the day walking and enjoying the rare, fine sunshine,  I returned to the fruit shop at 6.30pm to collect the durian I had asked them to reserve earlier. 

The boss pulled it out of the polystyrene box and presented it to me. 

“Lots of flesh this one” he said.

“You sure it’s good?” I asked.

“Definitely good. Guaranteed it’s good!” He confirmed very confidently. 

He popped it on the weighing machine. It was 3.1Kg. “400” he said. “Special price.”

So the deal was struck and he asked whether we wanted it opened and boxed, or we could take it in the shell which would be better.

  
After some deliberation, we decided in shell was probably fine. As long as he did the initial split for us. He left the rubber band on the end and wrapped it carefully in the spongy packaging material then popped it into a little bag. It seemed smaller once I had it in my hands, but well, good durian often feels that way.

I left it at home on the dining table and proceeded out to dinner. During dinner, we intentionally ate a little less to save room for durian.

Here are some photos of our delicious fruit when opened.

   
 You can see that it was a beautifully symmetrical fruit shell, all the better for good fruit contained within. The flesh was a lovely golden yellow and was the perfect texture, not wet and not too dry.

My first bite revealed a slightly fermented champagney sort of flavour which was interesting. The second seed I had from the other side of the shell was of a different taste altogether, more nutty, less of the fermented taste. Isn’t it interesting that the flavours in one fruit can vary so much. It’s nice to be able to discern these flavours, as opposed to eating items made with durian paste, which while tasty, are uniform and not tempting enough for the second dose.

  
We thoroughly enjoyed this durian, eating roughly 4-5 seeds between us before we declared that we could eat no more. 

Worth it? 

YES!

(And so much more pleasurable eating with friends)

First Delectable Durians of 2016

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.

  

Kuala Lumpur Durian Stalls in SS2 Relocated to Jalan Harapan, Section 19

It was only a matter of time before this durian stall relocation happened. The durian stalls were in a prime location in Seapark. 

I saw this article in the news recently that the city council has finally decided to house the durian vendors (who took up precious parking lots) to a more permanent location. The “uproar” as stated in the news was due to the lack of parking spaces at the new location, and the lack of space for tables and stools for clients who wish to consume on the spot.

   

   
This article highlights some of the complaints… In summary, poor construction quality, lack of considerate vendor space, seating area, parking space for visitors, toilets etc etc. Traffic queues caused major congestions along the major road linking Section 19 to SS2. This road is already heavily used in the best of days. 

The councils response was that these were meant to be stalls and that if business was that good, they should open a proper shop. 

Frankly, I’m both surprised and disappointed with the council’s response. After all, they supply the permits and presumably charge for it. Did they not survey the human traffic to the stalls? See how much seating area would be required for each stall? How many cars would visit during peak season? 

The previous location was great as both tourists and locals could have dinner in the neighborhood and walk to the stalls for dessert. Seating areas were separated from the main road by a divider and a drain. 

From the description in the article, it sounds like the present area in Section 19 is literally a stall facing the main road so cars would occupy the road in order to park right next to the stalls. A nearby unlit lot was deemed too dangerous by a customer (yes, sad state of KL life now) to park the car and walk over.

An idea for the council could have been to provide more public car park space by lighting up and improving the unlit space. These would serve the nearby restaurants and encourage other businesses to consider the area attractive. Then, as durian is a seasonal and mostly a night time affair, rent the lots at night to these vendors with strict conditions to clear up every night. Alternatively, the stalls could be built near the parking lots with a toilet (though I tremble to think of the state of a public toilet in KL…). Charge the vendors more if their stalls but give them an adequate facility if the idea is to retain them in the neighborhood.

Well, city planning is unfortunately not a priority in Malaysia and this is just one example.

I couldn’t find a map of the new stall location but I made my best guess on this map. The area has changed a lot since I was last there.

Relocation of durian stalls from SS2 to Section 19

Affected stalls include Donald’s durian which has been reviewed on this blog before.

If you’ve been there recently, please let me know if the articles reflecting the concerns of the vendors are legitimate.