Weird Durian Food Combinations

Jogoya's Dessert at Starhill Gallery

Jogoya restaurant's Deep Fried Durian Dessert

It was M’s birthday halfway through November and H decided to invite a group of friends out to Jogoya, the Japanese Buffet restaurant in Starhill. There was a great spread of food and I especially liked the fact that this was the first Japanese restaurant to have round tables for ten people, chinese style (usually Japanese restaurants have long square tables which aren’t great for socializing in a group). The food and layout of the buffet could have been better but then again, it was impressive all the same. They had a dish which wasn’t in the dessert section called Deep Fried Durian Puffs, I think it was part of the dim sum selection which was meant to add novelty to the buffet.

By the time that SW and I saw it, we had already gorged ourselves on the copious quantities of raw fish (sashimi) and grilled fish and tofu and beef nabeyaki. H decided to give it a go and was surprisingly supportive of the dish and said that it was “rather good actually”. I didn’t know that H was that keen on durian given our last outing which didn’t see him fighting with us for the last fruit. SW and I aren’t really into durian derivatives as we rather enjoy the real thing but we take H’s word for it.

Durian treats in Airasia Magazine

Durian Desserts in the Airasia Magazine

After M’s birthday, we’ve been doing quite a bit of travelling. First Bangkok then recently I’ve just returned from a conference in Monaco. On my trip to Bangkok on Airasia, there was an article featuring Durian and how it has been specially prepared by various chefs.

Durian Chicken from Nikko Hotel

Durian Chicken Dish at the Nikko KL

At the Nikko Hotel, the Chinese restaurant is promoting durian cooked with chicken (picture on the right)… no idea whether its any good so if anyone has been to try it, please let me know.

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Amazing Thailand: Durian Chips and Snacks for Tourists

Durian Fruit Derivative Variety

Lots of Different Types of Durian Snacks

Apart from the Gourmet Supermarket in Siam Paragon (which Dan loved too- nice to know), I would also highly recommend a visit to the equally impressive 7th Floor Supermarket of Central World (check out this supermarket on this youtube video). On the same floor as the Central World Cinema (also a very nice cinema), the supermarket boasts a reasonable Thai food selection (food court found deep inside the supermarket) while the outside hosts some small eating joints of various cuisines. I didn’t know this at the time and chose to have a pasta and a salad at one of the exterior italian cafes, and when I decided on buying some fruits for dessert, chanced upon a whole eaterie within which I would have patronized instead had I known about its existence. The display in this supermarket is not as beautifully laid out as Gourmet and it also didn’t have the same volume of customers, but the location (almost at the top of the mall) and its organization probably were the main reasons why customers may find it tricky to navigate.

As I had time before my night time movie commenced (if you must know, I bought myself a ticket for the “Ugly Truth”- Katherine Heigl and co-stars were superb), I wandered around looking for something I could take into the cinema with me. I walked all the way in and found an excellent selection of organic foods, packaged foods and even foods for tourists…and of course packaged Durian, something all Thais think that tourists could not leave without.

Rows and rows and shelf after shelf of packaged Durian, freeze dried, fried, sliced thin, chunks. And in all sorts of wrapping, see through, foil, vacuum wrapped, tinned and some beautifully cardboard packaging with ultra nice designs too.

Dan, it really made the selection at the Malaysian airport look miserable in comparison. This is the place you go to shop, to bring back some durian snacks for your friends and family who may have never been to Asia.

Here are some close-ups:

Monthong Durian Chips

Monthong Durian Chips

These on the left are the Durian Monthong Chips, Monthong being the primary variety of Durian species found in Thailand. See through, so that you can see that the chips are all nicely formed (not broken) and you can see that rich golden color.

Crispy Durian FruitsOn the right, you’ll see some box packaging of the “King and Queen” Combination, mangosteen and durians, but done in a “crispy” style. I’m not sure how that’s really different from a chip… it’s probably the same but they just thought it might be a unique selling point to give it a different name.

Each of these packets cost between 200-500 Baht, which is approximately 20-50 Ringgit or about 5-15 US Dollars.

Is this considered expensive for a snack? Well, it is certainly more expensive than a pack of potato chips of approximately the same weight.

I thought this package really took the award for most creative packaging and word play. Their brand by the name of “Tasty” makes 2 kinds of Durian derivatives; “DRIED DURIAN” and “DRIED FRIED DURIAN”. And not just dried fried durian, but with the words “EXTRA LARGE” too. I can’t help but wonder if this is some sort of sexual innuendo or perhaps that they are trying to promote it as some sort of aphrodisiac. The words that are prominent beneath it are in chinese which reads “liu lian gan”, which indicates to me that the product targets the mainland Chinese tourist market (a fair number visit Thailand for golfing vacations these days) but they also have the words promoting the health aspects in English. “Product of Nature” and “low cholesterol”. Hilarious. Extra large dried fried for a hundred and forty baht anyone?

Thai Durian Extra Large

Dried and Fried Durian Anyone?

After examining all the packaging available on the shelves, I concluded that the prizewinner for packaging (which by the way is also reflected in the premium pricing) should go to… (drumroll)….

A beautiful photograph depicting the ideal presentation of the contents, coupled with the deep royal blue hues and attractive words which illustrate what the consumer should be tasting and appreciating about the durian product rather than telling it as a method of cooking or trying to extol its health benefits. “CRISPY and DELICIOUS” under the words “Royal Thai Cuisine” truly makes you feel that you’re buying into something with class and refinement.

Blue Elephant Thai Brand

Stylo Durian Chip Packaging by Blue Elephant

I saved this photo for last because I loved the perspective with the tourist signage behind it proclaiming that these were the “tourist favorites”. I also liked the fact that they dressed up the packaging to look like the boxes of panattone which we get at Christmas time, almost pretty enough to hang up on the tree.

More on this on my next trip to Bangkok which is next week!