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.

Last few spots on Lindsay’s durian tour for 2017

According to the Star newspaper in Malaysia, numbers of durians are down but the number of durian consumers are up. So this year we’ll be experiencing a price squeeze for durian… again. 

Durian orchard tours snapped up

For those making the annual pilgrimage to Penang for durian tasting, you’d best hurry as the bookings have been made by many others. 

Lindsay Gasik’s Bao Sheng durian farm tour in Penang is probably best to go with if you want an English speaking guide. 

If you prefer a more chinese D-I-Y experience which is less luxe (possibly no air conditioning and definitely no swimming pool) and more rural (ie harder to get to) you can check out this list of durian orchards by Jojo or give Fook Gor a call to confirm that they haven’t exported the best ones to KL…

A Durian guide to the newly renovated Food Hall and Supermarket in Sogo Causeway Bay

Sogo, one of the stalwarts in Hong Kong’s departmental store shopping scene has undertaken a massive stage-by-stage renovation. It’s about time. The layout was beginning to look tired under the old style fluorescent lighting and it was heading towards the style of Wing On rather than Hysan Place

The internal renovation started at least a year ago with the children’s floor. Now, it’s reminiscent of Lane Crawford and Harvey Nichols (I bet they took a lot of ideas from there) and is rather upmarket ($$$).

They recently completed the B2 food hall and supermarket, this is what I checked out. 


I checked it out with a specific interest in durians of course. 

I was very surprised that down the escalator, the first thing that caught my eye in the fresh food section was a small shelf of durian. It occupied the top shelf, above the jackfruit (nangka).

Thai durian at Sogo


Granted it was Thai durian but this was promising. Rough spend would be HKD 100+/- per pack.

Hmm. Did they have any Malaysian produce for sale? 

Sogo rarely lets you down.

Malaysian Musang Kings


On the adjacent opposite display shelf, the Musang Kings were in whole and packaged form and is on a shelf at roughly hip/waist level. There’s the already packaged durian going for about twice the price of Thai durian, and there’s the whole durian for those who want it super fresh.

Durians packaged beautifully in sushi boxes at Sogo


Each box contains between 4-5 seeds, all a rich golden yellow. How about the whole durians?

Whole durians


The whole durians were long stemmed and quite fresh looking, still unopened. Each about 2kg in weight and costing about HKD 600+ per fruit. 

Here’s where to look for them in the supermarket.

Where to find durians in sogo supermarket Causeway Bay


Here are directions to Sogo if you’re new in town.


Go by MTR, tram or bus.

It’s on a major thoroughfare through Causeway Bay, you can’t miss it. Especially after they are done renovating in a year or two and will have a massive TV screen up for advertisements.

What to bring your sister’s in laws? Durian as a gift

I’ve been eyeing the durian in styrofoam boxes sitting out at Fu Wing for the last few weeks. At HKD 109 per pound, I’m waiting and looking to make up an excuse and occasion to have one.

Musang Kings at Fu Wing, Wan Chai


Well, the perfect reason came up about two weeks ago. We were invited out to Tuen Mun for a toddler’s birthday party and I thought we might as well maximise our trip by visiting my sister’s in laws who live by the Gold Coast (HK, not Aus). They kindly invited us to dine at home, and as he is a chef, would serve up the most delicious home made dishes. We knew we were in for a treat and gladly accepted. 

We ran through our list of “what to bring to friend’s house for dinner” and found it somewhat limited and unappealing. I mean, we’re eating at a professional Singaporean chef’s home… bringing anything made by anyone else just wouldn’t cut it. It might even be construed as an insult. 

How about durian…” SW suggested. 

Marvellous idea, I think there’s a mini season happening” I replied. 

I stopped by Fu Wing to ask if the durian was any good. 

Very very delicious” replied the owner in Cantonese, “the flesh is fragrant and soft“.

I like bitter, are you able to choose a bitter one for me?

Can, can, the flavour is bittersweet“.

On the day, I rang and confirmed my order. A medium-sized durian, bittersweet, wrapped as a whole fruit with husk.

We paid HKD 450 for it and had him seal it up with newspaper and cling film as best he could (despite his protests that the durian would start to go bad due to humidity). It was only going to be a few hours, it’s been relatively cool and we didn’t want to stink up the toddler party or our taxi. Unfortunately here they haven’t caught on to the vacuum sealing packaging systems yet. 

So here are the details.

Musang King Durian: Eat me Eat me!


The Mao Shan Wang durian was fresh, the flesh was delicate yet firm, the aromas wafting out once we opened it. The center portions were dry and the seeds were small, flat and pebble-like. 


I would say that the only disappointment was that the flavour was distinctly sweet, we didn’t detect a hint of bitter at all. 

Overall enjoyable for an off season but we wished that the flavour was more distinctive. Oh durian lovers are so hard to please… but at these crazy prices,  fruit vendors have to choose their suppliers well and wisely.

Durian Radar: Sudden and unexpected appearance of the Musang King

I was cruising through the supermarket Taste at Hopewell Center for a carton of milk. The route entails going past the personal care section, baby diapering section, household cleaning section, the toilet & tissues section. When I rounded the bend at the Japanese/ Taiwanese premium fruit display and the deli area selling expensive cheeses, right in front of me was the fast moving fruit display. 

👀ZZZziiiingggg!!! 👀

These fruits sit on top of barrels and are here at this intersection to get your attention. My eyes spied a small mass of familiar durian yellow in two tones… it was Thai on one side and Malaysian on the other. All packed in cling film for sale. The Mao Shan Wang looked like it was a nice and creamy.. good colour. 

At least you can see what you’re buying


At a display table perpendicular to the ready to consume durian, whole durians wrapped in cling film! Each going for a set price of HKD 299.9 per piece. I don’t know why it’s not just $300. Purchasing psychology I guess. 

Each going for $299 HKD


If you need a fix, head down and grab one.  It’s not expensive compared to what regular stall pricing would be for HK, but it’s off season time so the flavour may not be as intense… I couldn’t detect the aroma at all, these durians weren’t double wrapped.

Durian size comparison with apples

The only issue is that you might have to split the husk yourself. No simple feat unless you refer to a video instruction. 

Check out this video by Mark Wiens eating durian in Singapore... one of my favourite YouTube chefs (awesome Som Tum and Tom Yum Soup Mark) happy to know he likes durian too.

Malaysian Stamp features the durian 

Among other local fruits, the durian stands out in size and colour. There are two durians on the stamp, at the front and back. The durian-like fruit in the middle is a jackfruit, known locally as the “nangka“. Nestled at the back is the hairy rambutan and in the front is the purple husked mangosteen.


Thanks to Meredith DPS for sending it to me!

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.