Durian seller risk

What’s the risk of being a durian seller?

Well lots actually. In malaysia and singapore, there are lots of little one man stalls that sell durian whenever it’s in season. What sorts of risks could they possibly face? I thought I might take a stab at listing a few:

1) bad weather.

This affects the entire chain. From supply to demand. Bad weather, whether it’s too much sun or too much rain affects the fruiting of the trees and the numbers and qualities of the fruit. On the demand side, when it’s raining, less people are inclined to head out. Profits not guaranteed.

2) triads and corrupt cops.

Yes, most stalls in cities need to pay some sort of protection money, even if their stall is in a licensed area (which many are not, they are illegal hawkers). The problem here is that they are at the whim and fancy of all powers that be on the street. One of the durian sellers I had a chat with when I bought from him, told me that the triads come at least once a month to collect a certain sum of cash… he would just have to prepare it and pay up. Worse, he said, were the cops. They would come anytime and often different ones would also approach him. Either for free durian or petty cash. No choice in either situation. You gotta pay rent to someone.

3) it’s a cash business.

Well, it is mostly at these stalls… card facilities are just too expensive to maintain. Though with direct mobile payments, perhaps this might change. So you can imagine all the issues with cash dealing.., there’s lots of cash that needs to be kept safe every day (as a float, a day’s earnings or cash to buy durians off the middlemen) or you’re a target for thieves. Most durian sellers will try to have more than one person at the stall for exactly that reason and also try to place their stall in areas of high visibility (both for clients convenience and their own safety). Check out this latest article where a durian seller was robbed and stabbed.

4) the danger in the product itself.

Durians are heavy and full of thorns. Drop one on your foot and it is quite unforgiving unless you’re wearing mining boots. (Observe your sellers footwear in future :)) Durian sellers often have rough tough hands, coarse from handling fruit. Many durian are sprayed with pesticide to keep the bugs and other animals off, I can’t imagine what these chemicals do to the skin over time.

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Another sweet durian treat in Times Square, Causeway Bay

There is simply an infinite number of ways that you can conjure up a slightly different dessert using all the same ingredients. Agree?

Well I certainly thought so when I saw this.

A Danish Durian Bar.

No, no not a bar in Denmark… although that’s what initially popped into my mind. Were they eating these Danish bars in Denmark?

As it turns out, NO. Danish Bar is a Japanese bakery concept started by the Mermaid bakery.

They had all sorts of sweet and savoury flavors wrapped in a sort of crepe type exterior which looked partly crunchy and partly chewy… one had a D24 filling. Interesting. It looks a little lewd, (but I guess the sausage one is the most lewd) and I’m not sure you want to be seen eating it while walking around.

I plan to go and try it, though if you get there before me, let me know if the D24 is worth it. A Mao Shan Wang might have greater appeal.

Find it at the corner near the escalators by the City Super Food Court in Times Square, right by Mermaid Bakery.

The 3 dollar stall is now a 350 dollar durian stall

Since the day that TH told me that a durian shop had opened right on her street (Wan Chai Road), it’s been drawing me over like a moth to a flame.

The durian stall replaced a casual pop up selling everything for 3 Hong Kong dollars. We still use the words “Sam-mun” to affectionately refer to that specific location despite that pop up having left a some months ago.

The durian stall in Wan Chai road only has a chinese name猫山旺, which is “Mao Shan Wang” currently the unequivocal top breed of durian. It’s consistent, it’s full of flavour and really once you’ve had this, you may as well forget Thai durians and other non-descript hybrids and pay full attention (and money) to eat this one.

Eating durians in Hong Kong is always a splurge for me, and it was on a wet drizzly day that I suddenly decided that I was desperate for durian.

There I was across the street at the stoplight, huddled under an umbrella, my shoes soaked in murky sidewalk rain water and what do I see?

….Nothing. The wooden shelves and palettes were completely empty.

Whaaaat was going on? Obviously I wasn’t the only one pondering a durian stall with no durians in the middle of the afternoon.

This called for an investigation. I zoomed in for a closer look and a chat with the lady at the stall.

Durians on flight, haven’t arrived yet.” She said. “If you want, consider these packs at 180” she waved her hand toward the table, “or come back tomorrow“.

The three packs of durian were quite small, I’d say they were half of a smallish durian in each pack. Upon smelling them, I decided to go for the pack with an assortment of small seeds.

Reliable Mao Shan Wang. Need I say more? They were barely chilled then polished off.

oh yes. When I was at the shop, I saw a leaflet pasted on the wall advertising a durian buffet in Wan Chai. Sounded interesting, it went into my calendar.

This stall is located on Wan Chai Road near the Comix Home Base.

It usually looks like this.

Encountering Durian on Malaysian Food Street in Sentosa. Christmas 2017.

We went to the SEA aquarium today, perhaps not the best idea given that it’s the day after Christmas. The queues were mighty long, both for tickets and to enter. Inside, the main exhibits were filled with people all jostling for a look. The big tank areas were being used for picnics. Yep, definitely not the best day.

Anyway, we’re not home too often so the tourist behaviours manifest and attempting to keep the kids from going crazy is a main objective of each day. As long as they willingly head to bed between 9-11pm, we’re patting ourselves on the back.

Ok I digressed. On the way for the car park to the aquarium, we went past the trick eye museum, the Malaysian food street and the durian stall. Pause. Rewind. Durian stall? That was definitely not here last time I came! Well, neither were the Malaysian nor korean food streets.

Of course I had to take a look.

Smelled pretty food. A small selection of durian sold at pretty high prices.

All Musang Kings. 33 SGD per kg.

These are called Musang king black gold and go for a whopping SGD 40 per kilo.

Not cheap but there were clients evidently. I saw a table of four enjoying the fruit nearby. After the aquarium visit we walked back the same way and it was clear that the two rows of durian had reduced to one row of durians within a two hour period. I guess when in Sentosa, tourists are willing to pay Sentosa prices.

Latest durian prices at Sogo

Musang Kings or Mao Shan Wangs are back in season.

At Sogo they have the whole durians on sale but you can also buy them already in packets. Looks good.

You can see from the picture above, a packet with just one segment will set you back HKD 170-200. Worth it?

The whole durian is HKD 42 per 100 grams, that’s 420 per kg. So according to my exchange rate calculator that’s SGD 70 per kg. That’s RM 220 per kg. Aiyo ka gui bui sai jiak (translation from Teochew: ah too expensive cannot eat la).

Unless you’re not flying to Singapore or Malaysia for Christmas break then no choice if you’re desperate for a Musang king and at Sogo.

The most fantastic durian ball gown I’ve ever seen

We’ve discussed durian attire before. Remember my durian t-shirt?

I’ve also seen some rather disturbing interpretations of durian helmets, bras and jewelley.

But this dress really does impress.. it’s quite befitting and a wonderful one piece interpretation by the designer. 👏👏👏

Not easy to design and certainly not easy to wear :). It does deserve best costume!

Check out the fantastic video and see what you think.