Packaged durian cake from Thailand

In the basement supermarket Jason’s in Mongkok’s Langham Place, the only durian related item available was this.


I thought the location was a little strange. These durian cakes were on a shelf next to other dried fruit products like raisins, dried strawberries and blueberries, even apple purée.

Well I suppose if you’re looking for dried fruit it could also mean you’re looking for durian :).

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.

Supermarket vs Fruit Vendor: The Musang King Durian challenge 

I have two friends here in Hong Kong who are self confessed durian addicts. As far as addictions go, being addicted to durian is probably one of the toughest. Why?

1) it’s seasonal, unless you accept Thai versions of durian.

2) everyone expects you to share. So no squirrelling it away to delve into piece by piece in privacy.

3) aroma. Even if you did eat it secretly, you can’t hide the scent in your breath and your  subsequent burp. 

Anyway, DC and AY love durian. They’ve told me so many times and keep a small stash of the stuff individually packed in heat sealed airtight bags in their freezer. But as the durian connoisseur knows, the flavours and texture of frozen durian seldom approach that of the naturally ripe, freshly chiselled open fruit at room temperature. It’s also the suspense of visualising the flesh as the thorny husk is prised apart. It’s just not the same appreciation when a clear plastic box is plonked down in front of you and you can see every seed you will eat all at once. The sound of crackling from the frozen plastic box also fails to stimulate. 

Alright. Enough waxing and whining. Let’s get down to business. 

DC and AY invited us over to their home for dinner. Naturally, we bring dessert. I just relished the opportunity to do the test I always wanted. Comparing a chain store purchased Musang King to one bought from a specialty fruit vendor. Are the durians at Park n Shop good enough? Do they preserve the freshness well on the shelf for several days? Is the price difference justifiable? Let’s find out.

The Great Musang King Challenge

I skipped over to the fruit vendor Fu Wing

“Gor gor mao san wang gei dor chin aah?” (approximate Cantonese sounds for how much is the durian?)

After weighing..

“Sei bat umm sap mun”

(HKD 450)

I paid it and asked him to put some cling film around it for me. He protested. “It will spoil”, “the heat will destroy the flesh”, “the water content will leak out of it”, “it will be too stuffy”. I told him I’d be back in half an hour for it and it didn’t matter as I was only taking it for a 25 minute journey. I just didn’t want it to stink out our Uber car.

After that I did a quick march to the supermarket. There were several mao san wang durians ALL wrapped up in cling film sitting in a plastic crate. I picked each one up carefully, observing the state of the stem, the colour of the husk, whether there was any detectable scent and if they felt equal in weight.

Weight wise, they all felt quite similar. This sorting had taken place upon supplier provision. There were colour variations, some husks more rust coloured, some very green. That generally indicates whether the fruit was exposed to the sun or not. The stems were all about two inches long and seemed relatively healthy, except for one which had split longitudinally, probably during handling. I couldn’t detect any scent, all the durian husks were intact and kept so by the tight cling film wrap.

I chose a green one with a good looking stem and felt firm within when I gave it a shake. HKD 350. That’s a whole 20% cheaper at the supermarket.

I popped it in a plastic bag and put it in my stroller bag. No sense letting everyone know I had bought a durian and I didn’t want to injure myself carrying it in my hands (yes, seriously). I also didn’t want Fu Wing to know I’d bought a durian from the supermarket… (I just wanted to ensure that they would not select differently).

Thus armed with two thorny fruits, we made our way over to DC & AY’s home.

“Happy Birthday!” I exclaimed when she opened the door.

“It’s not my birthday!” She replied.


I know that. But everyone needs an occasion for durian… more the reason for two (especially at this price).

After a bak kut teh dinner, AY placed both fruits on the table and deftly split them open. 


The aromas were immediately apparent and wafted throughout the house. I tried getting everyone present to do a blind taste test but no one agreed. Everyone said that visuals are part of the experience. Ok ok, point taken.


So what was the consensus?
Durian from Taste:


Bitter, sweet, smooth, creamy, just enough elasticity in the bite. Fragrance was rich and full, the seeds small and flat.

Durian from Fu Wing:


Sweet, smooth but a little too firm. Not ripe enough to present as really creamy. Fragrance was present but not tantalising, as expected from a fruit with more maturation to go.


We declare the Musang King Mao San Wang from Taste best value for money and the overall Winner!

Fresh Mao Shan Wangs spotted at Apita Supermarket 

“Have you been to Apita before? It’s where most Japanese people go to do their shopping.”

As I hadn’t, my neighbour EB suggested that we take a trip to Apita Supermarket in Tai Koo Shing.

I am full of praise for this supermarket located in the basement. Upon descending by escalator, the cavernous brightly lit space opens up on two sides. Turn left. Pick up a basket, pop it on the trolley. Wheel past bakery shop Panash and try not to stop because you’ll be overwhelmed to purchase a bread bun. Enter fresh foods area. 

Wide open aisles, neatly packed fresh produce greet you. All labelled in Chinese and English. I’d just finished inspecting the vegetables and saw the foreign fruit section. Sitting on its own little display crate were the prize. 

Durians at Apita Supermarket


The whole durians looked small-ish but good. The stems were on and I couldn’t detect any aromas. Price wise, it’s more expensive on a per kg/lb basis.


The packaged durian was double sealed. I was very impressed that I couldn’t detect a whiff of durian at all. The staff must have taken great care to ensure that no durian made contact with the exterior (not even transfer through gloves).


Then I saw this fantastic packaging display. Seriously, what artistic staff. To split the durian open perfectly in half, exposing the fleshy pellicles and balancing the other fruits on top without looking like it’s been mushed up? That is artistry.

And I couldn’t smell a thing. Just fantastic. Not even City Super does it like that.

This gets my vote for most eco-friendly packaging as there’s no excessive plastic surrounding it, just cling film. But you’ll need to carry it home very carefully so that you don’t end up with just durian pulp on top.  (Of course the best is you buy it in husk which doesn’t require any packaging at all but then you can’t visually inspect the fruit)

Frozen D24 durian mochi

What’s in a durian mochi?


They also had frozen durian mochis available but these are made from D24 so it’s a very different flavour. 

I didn’t buy any but I did have durians on the weekend. Read about my durian challenge in the next post.

Musang King 🐱⛰ 👑 Durian for sale at CitySuper, Times Square

If it’s at Taste, it’s also gotta be available at CitySuper. In I went to hunt down the durian in Causeway Bay.

It’s right at the front entrance, impossible to miss. Sitting high up on a display bench, whole durians sans cling film beckon. The packaged durians packed in impenetrable stiff plastic wrapping. Not a whiff of any aroma at all. 

Boxed durian for sale at CitySuper


But the colour looked good. 
And the price…? Well, expect to pay at least twice the price for this box of gold at CitySuper.

Durian Priced by weight at CitySuper


Mmm looks good….

Boxed Musang king at CitySuper


Pretty funny that they translate it literally as “durian meat“. I suppose “durian flesh” doesn’t sound much better.

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.

The avid use of packaging to prolong freshness and morphology 

Valentine’s Day is approaching and soon the markets and card shops will be filled with silly novelties. One particular novelty made the news here in HK for the wrong reason. 

Valentine’s Day Strawberry


CitySuper, one of the high end supermarkets has stocked up on a special Kotoka Strawberry from Japan. The problem, highlighted on social media, was it’s over-the-top packaging. Nestled in a styrofoam netting and encased in a custom box with a clear cover, the strawberry was designed with Valentine’s Day in mind. The packaging looks like it could fit 4 equal sized strawberries easily. 


What perverse pleasure there is in the consumption of one strawberry boggles the mind… unless it is infused with aphrodisiac properties that when your loved one bites into it, they…. (I’ll leave this part up to your imagination). 

Japanese strawberries on sale at Taste


Pretty much all the high end fruits from Taiwan and Japan are packaged this way for sale at the supermarket.

Green groups in Hong Kong are up in arms over the wasteful packaging and are pressuring the supermarkets to reduce fruit packaging. This is all very well, except that the people running these green organisations are gweilos (no offence meant) who haven’t observed locals and chinese people in general buying fruit. 

In my observations, many of the auntie and granny looking types like to hover by the fresh fruit crates, this is for two reasons. 

1) they are using all the processing power they have to compute the price per fruit and which is more expensive and why. Then…

2) they wait to see who else is buying what. If they see several picking fruit from a particular crate, the rate of attraction suddenly increases and there’s a waterhole effect where all the grannies need to get their hands on one before it runs out. 

In the meantime, the fruit in this crate (let’s say apples in this case), get picked and pressed and generally molested all around. If for any reason it is dissatisfactory, it gets tossed back into the crate and another is subjected to the same fate until the granny finds the best one. Ok, I confess that I am like a granny in my selection, and that is because the apples I purchase are the most expensive and I’d like to ensure that they are edible after everyone else has had a go. So what does the supermarket do with all this spoiled rejected apples? I suppose it’s off to the processing plant and that’s where the juices on the shelf come from. 

Anyway. In the case of the durian, the fruit can be shipped in its husk if fresh. That’s probably the greenest packaged pricey fruit there is. However, many are being sold frozen now, cling film is used to conserve shape and hygiene on a piece by piece basis. That’s still at least a meter or two of cling film per durian.

If only someone could recycle durian husks into a biodegradable packaging for durian and other fruits… that would be very green indeed. 

Alternatively, get all the fussy ones to head off to the wet market where the fruit man watches his fruit like a hawk and everything gets dropped together in a bag on the assumption that you’ll handle them with care.

This is how the Kotoka Strawberry is packaged in Japan. Where do all their packaging waste go? Or is it only for export?