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.

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A Durian Invite in the Post from Genting Resorts World (Sentosa)

My mum who lives in Singapore receives tons of mailers, and her technique of “glance and destroy” is quite indiscriminate. Knowing my fascination and obsession with durians, she saved this one for me. Thanks Mum!

A Durian in the Post

A Durian in the Post

Mum said she received it more than a week ago. I asked her if it smelled when it arrived as the sticker says “Warning! I Smell.” Hilarious. She said “yes it did actually”, she didn’t open the plastic and she could smell the durian aroma when she picked up the mailer. I guess the fragrance didn’t last long.

Free Smells but Expensive Durian Buffets

Free Smells but Expensive Durian Buffets

When I read the back, I realized it was an invitation to a durian buffet at the Resorts World Genting Casino Hotel. It’s a but unclear whether I am considered a RWS invites member or a non-member. I have never been to the casino and am not a member of the Genting Group.

I asked Mum if she wanted to go but she thought it was pretty pricey for a one hour forty-five minute session (not inclusive of parking which is notoriously expensive unless you spend the day), and there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t be flooded with thousands of jostling people who would trample your toes just to get to the best fruit. They have promised Zhu Jiao, D13, D24, Ang Kar and Mao Shan Wang. I wonder if there is a queue and a quota for each type. We’re not going but if you decide to, let us know what its like.

If you’d like to go, reserve your tickets here.

First proper Durian Feast for 2011 (Chinese New Year)

I’ve been waiting for quite a while for a proper durian feast since last year. S2 and I had friends  (L&P) visiting from Egypt 3 weeks ago (just before the protests started) and we took them on an ambitious but rainy tour of KL. After dragging them to various lookout points (in heavy rain) and subjecting them to kaya toast (plug here for Yut Kee), S2 and I thought we’d end the night with a fantastic chinese dinner of siew ju at Imbi Palace and round the corner to our usual stall. I have to tell you that the Imbi stall has been “renovated” and now has an impressive zinc roof shelter that spans twice as large as the original umbrellas did, providing more dry seating areas than before. The owner has also installed more fluorescent lights and everything was much brighter than before. We ordered 2 smallish durians which were MSWs which our friends thought smelled revolting and the taste revile. But, they were very game and actually ate a few seeds just to confirm that they neither liked the taste nor texture. S2 and I generally had a good time until it came to the bill which amounted to over RM 150 for both. We thought that this was way overcharging us and thus with a heavy heart, I must admit that we have decided to boycott that stall (we hypothesize that perhaps the stall owners wish to recoup their investment asap, even from their regulars). So, no more eating durians at Jalan Imbi for the time being.

Valentine’s Day fell on the 14th which was a Monday this year and so happened that: 1) this is still during the CNY period and 2) it was the eve of the Prophet’s birthday (national holiday here!). While most people were probably out celebrating their couply love, we hung out with my usual “medical makan kaki” comprising of 5 doctors and our crew of 4. This time we went to Unique Seafood in Section 13 (fresh as you can get, but forget conversation as it’s way too noisy) and then made our way over to Donald’s Durian in SS2, another usual haunt of ours. I rang Donald before going just to make sure that he had the good spikey stuff- durians (it’s still kind of early in the season) and that he had a table for our large group.

Donald – The man himself

No problem,” he said, “Just come over, I will get a table ready for you

Fantastic. We got there at 10.30pm, still full of fish and other swimmers, but ready for mouthwatering durian (for all you newbies, we always have room for durian).

What will you have tonight?” Donald asked casually. I asked him what he had which was good. “Well, we can start off with some D13, progress onto D101 and D24…”

AC the durian snob made a wrinkled face at the mention of the common D24. “How about Mau Sang Wang?” AC asked, she could barely contain herself and it seemed to be all she wanted.

Yes, we have that too but I would recommend that the Mau Sang Wang will be last…” Donald wandered back over to his wall of durians to start the selections.

Make sure all good one ah..” AC quipped after him. Donald assured her with a money back guarantee.

The Tasty, Creamy, Caramely D13

I have to confess that I was too busy eating and only remembered to take the photos only towards the end of the

session… but there’s enough there to share what the colors, textures and aromas were.

First up, the D13 which was richly unfamiliar but was caramelly, velvety and sweet all at once. You can see that the ripeness was perfection, I say this because the outer skin separates smoothly and cleanly, almost like a translucent wrapper from the rest of the flesh. And it is this surprising resistance when you first bit into it that eventually gives way to the soft yielding flesh below which made all of us say that overall, we rated this fruit a 4.5/5.

The durian itself was small and rather cute, it was slightly larger than the palm of my hand, the seeds were small and kind of irregularly shaped which reminded me of the MSW which is almost always like that.

Each pellicle contained about 5 small seeds wrapped in this rich yellowy orange skin. We polished this one off pretty quickly.

Next up was the D101.

Large, slender, creamy, sweet D101

This D101 was one of the larger durians Donald recommended that night. It was at least 30cm from top to bottom and had several big seeds with nice sunny yellow flesh.

This was also pleasant but the taste was a little bit more watered down than the D13 and we didn’t want to eat all of it as we were anticipating what would come next.

The seeds were larger and more meaty. We were worried that it might fill us up all the way.

Donald sent over another Durian which I hadn’t had before, or maybe it just goes by a different name. The Phoenix.

Smaller, creamy, bitter, smooth, pale Phoenix

The Phoenix was delicious. I have to say now that it was my favorite for the whole night, with D13 coming in straight behind it. This Phoenix was pale to an almost anemic looking jaundiced kid and small like the D13 comparable to the size of a canteloupe melon. The seeds were small and the flesh was a little bitter, a little sweet, but very smooth, velvety and had a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. Not watery at all, it had the right surface tension and didn’t come across fibrous or sticky on the palate. Definitely try this if you are having some durian this week.

I really enjoyed this one but I suspect that like the Tauwa (see previous posts), we just can’t get it all year round.

Stinky, Stinky Mau Sang Wang

After the pale and seemingly sun deprived Phoenix, Donald sent over the Mau Sang Wang (aka, Raja Kunyit). This Mau Sang Wang was a little larger than I would have liked, it was almost as large as the D101 and had the classic vibrant canary yellow with even spacing and full flesh overlaying small seeds.

Generally, I am a big fan of the Mau Sang Wang, but this one was not as strong in flavour as I would have liked it and maybe I was already won over by the Phoenix and D13.

Large, meaty, creamy, mild D88

As you can imagine, we were already getting pretty full by this stage (Donald sent 2 or 3 of each kind mind you) and were were starting to push each other to take the last seeds left in the fruits.

At this juncture, Donald brought out a heavy hitter (wallet too). This was the D88, a large monster to end of the evening and complete the repertoire and spectrum. It was almost too big for us to stomach but it certainly made an impressive appearance. The brown almost leathery spikes split open to reveal large golden pillow style durian seeds. Each seed was about as big as my fist (which isn’t that big, about the size of an apple).

The flesh by comparison was weak in flavor compared to all the others and it was by far the most watery and least delectable among the lot. Perhaps our tastebuds were also already so overwhelmed by all the wonderful aromas and textures, it would be hard to take them to the next stimulatory level.

I thought that the D88 would have been a good candidate for the freezer, and it was a pity I forgot to take the seeds home as they were almost perfectly ovular in shape, except that you would definitely prefer to eat Phoenix rather than a D88….

The large D88, The medium 101, small Phoenix and MSW

Here’s my last photo for this post…wonderfully skin colored smooth durian seeds.

I’ll keep you updated soon on my next durian adventure. I intend to to visit a durian farm with some new friends who say they are also huge fans of the fruit one of these weekends when we have time, that will be an authentic and fresh feast.

Durian D96: Details on another species

It is generally true in my experience that a deeper richer color and tone of the durian is an indicator of its flavor and taste personality. I blogged in a previous entry about the color of durians and its appeal to our visual cortex. Having said that, color does not always indicate a better flavor but may be used to compensate for poor flavor in order to attract the same amount of gastric interest.

Here’s a photo of the D96, how do you think the color rates on a scale of 1-10?

Depth of color: maybe a 7 or an 8

Appearance of texture: probably 7 or 8

Attractiveness of size: maybe an 8 or 9 (its not too big nor small)

Shape: Yes very shapely, maybe an 8

Flesh to fruit ratio: 5 (too much of the white bit)

Overall: a very decent 8 I’d say just looking at it.

BUT I’m sorry to tell you that tastewise the D96 fell short. It tasted more like a 4-5 disappointing the appearance of the fruit. Mediocre taste means that you could eat it and it is not intolerable but it isn’t incredibly special either, ie no, you wouldn’t order a second fruit.

If you don’t know what I mean by the description above and the comparisons of color, here’s a photo that will help with some perspective.

The D96 and the MSW Color Comparison

Durian D96 husk

The yellow-gold husk of the D96 Durian

On the left, the D96, and on the right, the incredibly reliable MSW which usually is already considered a deeper colored fruit as compared with the other species. The exterior does somewhat reflect the color inside (but I would never use this as a benchmark, merely as a singular observation) and note that the spikes are quite uniformly spikey and quite close together.

Have you had a D96? I wonder if there is great variation in the species where one D96 can be markedly different to another. If you’ve had one and it doesn’t sound like how I’ve described it, please do let me know…

Durian Article in the Malaysian Star Newspaper

I’ve been to this stall in PJ (that’s been mentioned in the article below) once when I brought some friends from the UK to see the crazy durian gorging scene and they were reasonably impressed with the fruit just with seeing the visceral reaction that people had towards it. Notice that the Durian D96 is mentioned in the newspaper article below*. I also found this other durian lover blog post by the name of Jan who had a nice listing of the different durians that she found in the supermarket. Unfortunately, the photo she took was too small to really appreciate but she’s made the effort to translate it into a listing. Here I have a photo of the several durian numerals all clearly painted on the wooden bench at one of our fave stalls in Section 17 (not the one discussed in the article).

*I will show you a photo of D96 in the next post 🙂

Durian Numerals denoting species and types at Section 17 Greenview Durian Stall

Eat-all-you-can durian feasts

Mon Aug 03 2009The Star

The Raja Kunyit has rich yellow, thick creamy flesh.

Malaysia, Aug 2, 2009 – YOU either love it or hate it; there’s no middle ground where the durian is concerned.

And if you do love it, you’d do anything to have it, including making abrupt stops in the middle of nowhere or risking being fined for illegal parking at the roadside that just happened to have a durian stall nearby.

There was a time when there was a distinct season for durians, but these days it seems you can get them the whole year round. Nevertheless, there are still times when they seem to be everywhere, woe to those who hate getting even the slightest whiff of them.

For durian lovers, however, happy days are here again as there are now so many places to get them, and at affordable prices too.

In Petaling Jaya, Selangor, those who cannot get enough of this spiky fruit’s flavourful, creamy pulp should head for the durian stalls along SS2/65 for the “Eat All You Can” durian feasts there.

Look out for Cheah Kim Wai, 29, or Durian Wai as he is popularly known, who was in the thick of action 11 years ago when he first set up stall in the area and the idea of an unlimited durian feast was mooted.

The move was originally an attempt by the durian sellers to dispel misconceptions that durians were expensive, he said.

Over the years, the “Eat All You Can” campaign worked to promote sales but it was halted for some time due to the El Nino weather phenomenon that resulted in a durian shortage in the early 2000s. This would last till 2005 and then with better yields, Cheah and his fellow traders restarted their promotions.
Know your durians: The Tracka durian has a visible gap in the heart of the fruit.

For as little as RM9 per head, diners are given a free-flow supply of kampong durians and those who are willing to pay a bit more can opt for the RM15 package for the D24 variety.

Complementary salt water is provided for detoxification purposes and fresh coconut water and mangosteens are also sold on the side. Diners can also count on comfortable seating and one of the advantages of dining-in is the convenience of being able to exchange a below par fruit for a better one on the spot.

Diners also do not have to worry about selecting the right fruit as Cheah is at hand to do this.

Surprisingly, diner feedback revealed that while the “Eat All You Can” offer is a definite draw; many customers have returned to eschew the promotional offer for the premium varieties.

At Cheah’s stall, for example, there are no fewer than 12 types of durians on the menu and each one has a different character and flavour. The Tracka durian, for example, is recognisable by the visible gap in the heart of the fruit and its deep yellow coloured pulp, which has a sweet yet slightly bitter taste.

Then there are the sweet but small seeded varieties, like the Jiuji and D96; and for those who relish a luxurious mouthful, there is the Raja Kunyit and the Udang Merah, which has a slight tinge of red in its rich yellow pulp. Another rare but popular choice is the XO, named for its pale, bitter flesh.

Singaporean Kwa Hwee Leng, 60, who has been satisfying his yearly durian cravings at Cheah’s stall for the past five years opined that the “Eat All You Can” package lost its appeal after the durian vendor introduced him to the XO and Raja Kunyit, the most expensive variety at RM25 per kilo.

The Raja Kunyit, in addition to the Tracka durian, seems to be the most popular choice among diners. Alexa Cheah, nine, and her sister, Ashley, seven, certainly prefer the Raja Kunyit durian over the other varieties.

Cheah, a father of two, advised that very young children should best be introduced to durians with a “wetter” textured flesh like the D24, D101 and D2. With the Raja Kunyit and Tracka, the dense creamy texture of their pulps can be hard for a small child to swallow, he explained.

“There is an order to durian appreciation. First, warm up the taste buds with a mild flavoured durian like the D24. Only then can you progress to something stronger like the XO or Raja Kunyit so that you can appreciate the nuances of each variety fully,” advised Cheah who has been selling durians since he was 19.

Through experience, Cheah said, he has observed that the real durian connoisseurs often prefer varieties that have distinct bottom notes of bitterness, like the pale creamy-fleshed Tawa variety, which is becoming rarer by the day.

“Connoisseurs insist that it is the bitterness which brings out the fragrance of the durian,” he said.

As for the potent dangers of durian overconsumption, Cheah said that he has yet to witness any untoward incident at his stall.

“Moderation is the key. In general, if you overeat, then you are going to feel very uncomfortable and the same applies when it comes to a durian feast,” he said.

However, he advises caution for diners with diabetes and high blood pressure as the sugar content in durians is very high.

Consuming durians with alcohol is also not advised. This comes from Cheah’s personal observation after watching the chemical reaction of a durian pulp that had been plopped into a glass of whiskey. “The glass became so hot that it cracked. Imagine the same effect in the human stomach,” he said.

Nevertheless, Cheah’s presence in SS2 and the numerous other durian vendors throughout the country is testimony to the fact that the durian is in demand, never mind that eating it can make one sweat.

Now, for those who are gluttons for durians but don’t know which one to choose from the piles of the fruit at their feet, bear in mind this tip from Cheah.

“If you have to choose your own fruit, remember that a durian should first be light. And when you shake the fruit, you should hear a muted rattling. Lastly, give it a good sniff and if the aroma pleases you, then it’s a good durian,” he said.

Wai Durian Stall is at Jalan SS2/65, Petaling Jaya, Selangor (behind police station and BHP petrol kiosk). Tel: 012-234 5619. Open from noon to midnight

The real Raja Kucing of Durians

White Cat at the Durian Stall

Is this the Raja Kucing of Durians?

It was another one of those marvellous evenings of wine, prawns and durians, and it was the first time ever that I spied this beautiful white cat.  The word “Raja” means King and “Kucing” means cat. This cat was searching for rats at the Durian stall but its owner says that it will eat durian too if it finds the stinky fruit lying around on the floor… I guess no one or no animal is truly able to resist.

Heavenly Delicious Tauwa Durian – A Prize Find in PJ

Chinese and Malay Durian Names

Chinese and Malay Durian Names

Before we left on our short trip overseas (1 week in the UK Summertime!), SW and I went on a late night search for durian to satisfy a durian craving. This expedition started at 10pm (about the time I left work) and our first stop was to our fave stall in Imbi. Unfortunately (or perhaps not so unfortunately as you’ll see why in a short while), the Jalan Imbi stall was closed for the night. It was probably either a really quiet evening or an extraordinarily busy one as he’s usually open til pretty late.

From this failed attempt, we decided to swing out to PJ via the Federal highway (just down the road) and visit our next favorite durian stall, Greenview durians*. It must have been a fairly quiet evening as far as durians go, there was ample parking by the stall, one table occupied by 3 guys and the owner with several polystyrene packets of durians open (for airing) who were merely sitting there having a bit of a chat and a cigarette. We were warmly welcomed by the owner and the owner’s son and the son “Da Wei” (probably David in English, but it translates as “Big Tail” in Chinese) waved us over to an empty rickety bench – like the ones you sit  at barbeques but a lot less sophisticated. We took our places opposite each other and swung our heads towards the hanging durians which looked as though they were queuing up to be eaten by us.

Big Tail being a cheerful and smiley young man came over and asked us in a very polite but casual maitre’d style what we would like to have that evening. (Translation in progress from here on) “What’s your best?” We asked. “Well,” he said, “the premium is certainly the Mau Sang Wang which we a few good ones, would you like to try?”

Having journeyed such a distance for durian, we couldn’t wait a moment longer and said yes, the Mau Sang Wang please. The durian was selected, opened and the intense yellow colour was greeted by us with delight, we just couldn’t wait to sink our fingers into the luscious durian flesh. When we were about three quarters of the way through, SW – who was then in the mood for novelty and more durian– proceed to ask Big Tail what other types of durian we should have now. Big Tail did not hesitate in responding that there are groups of durian species and flavours that can be combined and others which shouldn’t be mixed. “The Mau Sang Wang, Tauwa and Ang Hae are in the same class” he said, adding ” its the strong and good afternotes in these durians which are equally powerful. Other durians if eaten after that will be much poorer in taste and will seem flat and unsatisfying.”

“Fine,” SW replied, “What is this Tauwa and can we try it?”

The Tauwa - My new found favorite

The Tauwa - My new found favorite

The Tauwa was placed in front of us with a great flourish and opened with great gusto. “It’s milky”, Big Tail said adding “and a bit bitter but definitely milky and a very special taste”. We couldn’t agree more with him, the flesh was almost iridescent and milky but the taste of it was par excellence and did not disappoint. Typically, one sees a pale coloration of the flesh and gets the feeling that the taste of the durian will be somewhat suspect and lightweight. However, the Tauwa is truly in a class of its own and distinguishes itself far from other palers. Not much else to say here apart from the fact that we devoured it in its entirety (it wasn’t terribly big) and kept a few of the seeds to grow (more on this in another entry).

Colors belie the intense flavor and aromas

Colors belie the intense flavor and aromas

Well, I think it appropriate that you see the difference in color between the Mau Sang Wang durian and the Tauwa so here it is… look at the difference in intensity? Both flavors were markedly different but equally strong. In terms of texture, both were equally smooth, creamy and finger dripping. Note that the Tauwa is a slimmer, lomger shaped durian than the Mau Sang Wang which tends to have a rounder, fuller figure.

After the amazing Tauwa and the Mau Sang Wang, SW felt they were small and succint but certainly not sufficient. “What else?… How about let’s try the D24 that’s hanging over there.”

Big Tail responded “Do you want the sunshine D24 or the normal D24?”. “Eh? What’s the difference?” We asked. “There is a difference in the taste and colour”.

Durians with a serious tan

Durians with a serious tan

“Sunshine durians are the ones which hang on the outermost of the tree and are exposed to the sunlight most of the time and the exposure to the sun turns their skin brown, like a tan”. “These sunshine durians usually have a sweetened sun-ripened flavour, quite different to the shaded durian fruits, which typically remain green all around.” I thought this was interesting and had never thought about it before. It made sense that the durians that are green must indeed be shaded by the leaves or the tree trunks itself. What’s interesting is that the durian itself is like the Michael Jackson song “Black or White” (sorry, had to pay a little tribute here) as the sunshine D24 is burned a bautiful brown on one side but completely a verdant green on the other side. Flavour wise, the durians with a tan did taste a little sweeter than their lowland cousins but it just might be due to the slight dehydration and good soil drainage that concentrates the flavours.

After devouring 4 durians, SW and I decided that we had to call it quits. We would have liked to have another Tauwa but there wasn’t any left. We also gave Big Tail the credit that you shouldn’t really eat D24s after you’ve had the premium grade durians but all the same, it is nice to have variety.

The conclusion? The ideal number of people to enjoy durians with is 3 or 4, but if you’re a connoisseur who only wants the best, then I recommend that you only share the Tauwa with 1 person (and make that a special person).

*Greenview durians is a name we have given this stall as its right by the famous Greenview Chinese restaurant in Section 17.