Durian buffet: Eat until you pengsan

Translation. Pengsan= Drop.

Eat until you drop. Buuurrrp.

What’s not to love about durian buffets? Imagine, getting to eat variations of the same thing… what if it were a cheese buffet or a pork cutlet buffet. Do you think it would inspire the same fervor and enthusiasm? I’ve been to cheese and wine tastings before, it’s usually limited to a small amount of cheese and just one glass of wine per bottle. Yawn. Boring.

So I’ve been to a few durian buffets but this one was different.

The durian buffet organized by the Wanchai road shop 猫山旺 was held at The Hub just off the main pedestrian bridge linking the MTR station to the Immigration building. I was a little late to the party.

Wow. Everyone was already seated and there wasn’t a seat to spare. Hmm 🤔 (wondering whether I could get a seat).

I spied a nice lady in white wandering around the entrance with a tag and proceeded to ask if she was Carol.

Oh no no I’m not Carol, (she’s Carmen) Carol is somewhere in the back getting the durians ready, you can go have a look.”

Okay… off I go to the back. There was no shortage of things to see.

Firstly, you see what hybrids they’re serving. Here you can admire the different shapes, spikes and forms of the durian husk.

Then, a table full of gift suggestions. Want to send a fresh fruit hamper with a fresh durian? They’ve got you covered. (Let me know if you need special gloves for opening them, I can sort you out.)

And if you’re not into fresh and prefer durian in its other forms… well you won’t be disappointed either.

Durian chocolate, crisps, coffee.. I think those possibilities are endless.. but that’s if you’re just into the flavor. Which I think is sort of missing the point… there’s just so much more to the fruit.

What’s really nice is that they bothered with mangosteens. Very thoughtful to include the queen of fruits. It’s the yang to the durian’s ying.. helps to balance out the heatiness of durians.. or so the chinese saying goes. Mangosteen is an equally difficult fruit. It spoils easily, the juices stain everything it contacts with and the worst part? It’s often full of large black ants. They hide under those beguiling green sepals and spill out once you’ve disturbed their hiding place. I hope the Hub fumigated after the event or some residents are going to massively complain.

After the Queen here come the Kings!

All these are for sale of course. What about the buffet?

Nice. I liked that they used black serving plates. Good contrast.

I finally found Carol who was really busy getting the servers to do the serving. I decided to introduce myself to the boss dressed in white, Jessie. After some discussion with her, I was ushered over to a seat and assigned with my tray.

How exciting! I couldn’t wait to catch up. Everyone else had already demolished their tray and were onto their second round.

Note the banana leaf underneath the durian. Great idea to make it authentic Malaysian style 👍👍! The organizers also strung up Malaysian flags and had coconut water and bottled water on the tables. This was well thought through.

While people were eating, on stage there was a running commentary about different types of durian, what they look like, their flavors etc.

Mark, the durian supplier from Malaysia was up there to provide his expertise on durian cultivars in Cantonese. (Note, I did speed the video up 2x to save some time. Mark doesn’t really sound like a cartoon character! :))

Was anyone actually listening? Yes and No. I think most people there were durian enthusiasts and they knew what they were there to eat. They were just tucking into every serving. But it was good to have running commentary, definitely makes it more lively.

In the paper cup provided for each person was a plastic glove. Almost everyone I saw on the room had used one. That’s how I know they are from Hong Kong. Everyone here has been conditioned to be hygiene obsessed. So they’ll wash their hands, then put on the glove to eat.

As my faithful blog readers know, that is just not the way I like it. I want to feel the durian flesh on my fingertips. I want to hold it with my pincer-like grip and know the size of the seed. Most importantly, when you use your bare hands, the chances of it slipping and popping onto your shirt or lap is much reduced. Well, that’s just my opinion. Use your gloves if you want 😉.

I was quite impressed with the graphics, -nicely done- explaining the various states in peninsular Malaysia and where durians are grown (yes, virtually all have durian).

I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get more of the Musang king or the 金包which I was rather taken with. Instead it was the much less flavorful D24 that made the rounds and I noticed that many of these were left wasted on plates. Perhaps the organizers should note this and ask what their audience would like more of… we could hold up a sign saying “more 金包over here please”

Soon after, the packaged samples came out… first the durian ice cream. It came out already in balls with a serving spoon. Not bad but not everyone could be bothered.

Then the durian mochis. These were straight out of the freezer but had a bit of condensation at the side. I found these to be too chewy. Not my thing.

But Z was into the durian cheesecake. Not that it had a strong durian flavor to it, that’s probably why she could stay to pick at it until it was mostly gone.

I had been persuading her to try some durians with me but to no avail. Basic rule of parenting, pick your battles. I figured this wasn’t one I needed to win. She could see how much fun I was having, so I’ll just stay optimistic.

To amp up the fun, the organizers had a lucky draw to win durians and a little contest to test the knowledge of the participants. The winners got to take home a whole durian each.

Everyone was encouraged to buy some durian on the way out to take home and autograph their big durian wall.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Jessie and Benny’s team and commend them on the expert organization of the event. Jessie and Benny run a successful seafood export business and started this business due to their own passion for durian. A tip for the owners….I asked several participants how they came to know of it… were they clients of the durian shop like I was?

No… they all knew about it through Facebook groups and love going to durian buffets! These were the serial durian buffet goers (SDBFG).

More on the SDBFGs in another blogpost.

If you’re in the city and craving some durian, these guys will sort you out. The service is a little gruff but I think the quality may be more reliable than other stalls as they fly the durians in fresh daily. And if you’re too tired to head out… call them they deliver!

Open 10am to 10pm. Call to pre-order at +852 9171 3882.

Ps. At the conclusion of the event, they announced a buy 3 get 1 free promotion. I bought 2 金包, 1猫山王 and 1D101. Shared with PB who was a very happy chick.

Here’s the cute assistant courier.

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Durian desperation in Seoul, Korea

My friend JH is a durian lover. I still remember one day in Singapore many years ago when we had copious amounts of white wine at the Wine Room, then excellent durian at Dempsey car park. We were so full (and she was mildly tipsy) that the chilli crab for dinner went untouched for several hours until the effects of full/ drunkenness wore off.

She went to Seoul to visit her parents over Christmas and sent me this picture.

  
She said that they bought a whole frozen Monthong durian from the Shinsegae supermarket in Myeoungdong. The defrosting took an entire day then they were able to peel the husk back as gently as an ripe banana. 

For less than USD30, she reckoned she got a bargain in Seoul and said it was delicious (well, at least it wasn’t disappointing).

Head over there if you need a durian fix!

Christmas durians 2015

I made a really boozy fruitcake for SW to share with the office. 

 

My Christmas fruitcake

 
Just wanted to show it off ;). And I wondered whether at some point, someone would try to introduce durian into fruitcakes since almost every other confectionary has a durian flavor. But this was a British fruitcake, so no durian. 

After a family Christmas dinner of excellent chinese food last night, we opened a box of defrosted durian. My mum had squirrelled this box away last durian season a few months ago and said it was the last of the Mao Shan Wangs. 

 

mao shan wang

 
The color looked very pale for a cat mountain king but the flesh looked delicate and just peeled off the seed cleanly. So fantastic.

 

just 4 segments

 
Most of the flesh was slightly bitter with a mild fermented taste but there were also some parts where the taste was quite bland… Perhaps the freeze thaw process does rob some parts of their flavour. 

  

the pebble like seeds

 Still, a very good 8/10. We will be hunting around for more so stay tuned.

Durian Daifuku

I was walking towards home today when I decided to check out a frozen meat shop. Ah Wong Fine Food Company. Despite its name, it isn’t a gourmet shop as much as a gourmet stall… An impressive number of freezers packed into a very tight corner. The last time I walked by, there were some impressive listings of imported meat and seafood, at cheaper prices then what you can get at the supermarket.

  
These shops paste sheets of A4 paper- often hand written- of what the item is and the price by weight. 

I bought some imported beef slices and as I was leaving, spotted this:

  
What on earth was that? I wondered. Since I was already a client, I was less shy about asking. 

Boss, I said in my crappy Cantonese, what is durian daifuku?

The boss replied in Cantonese, it’s something you eat and drink.

???

I persisted: Is it frozen? 
Yes he said. 

Well can I see it? I want to know what it is. Where is it from?
It’s from Malaysia he replied. 

Then scrabbling around a freezer in front of me, yanked out this box.

  
Ah. Durian mochi. Made from pure durian pulp. Apparently haven for durian lovers.. Do they mean heaven? 

I thanked him and told him to put it back. The meat I had bought would thaw nicely on the way home in time for lunch. The durian mochis will be for another time. 

It’s just hilarious that they made it sound Japanese… In chinese characters it says Da Fu or Dai Fu in Cantonese (meaning big wealth) but they added a ku on the end of it.

45 Hkd per box isn’t much, less than 7USD. For 8pcs, that works out to be less than 1USD per piece (or bite). It doesn’t state what type of durian it’s made of. I’ve paid more for an ice cream stick so maybe this might be worth a go.

Mid-Autumn Festival: Durian Mooncake in Hong Kong

It was the mid-Autumn festival last weekend. Quite drizzly in parts but it did clear up to a full moon on the day itself.

The day before, that is on the 8th of September, I was in Tsing Yi and in the Maritime mall waiting to meet up with a friend. In the concourse area was a typical exhibition booth space where many bakeries, restaurants and candy shops were hawking their wares. Of course, most of it was festival related and moon cakes were the main feature.

As I strolled around the booths, I was hunting for something very specific. Guess what…? It wasn’t durian moon cakes. I really like the piggy in the basket moon cake biscuit. It’s essentially the dough skin of the baked moon cakes which is crafted into the shape of a piglet. Most of the time, it’s the dough all the way through but sometimes they include the lotus seed filling which is super delicious. Anyway, it’s getting harder and harder to find a good one. I used to love the ones that the Shangri La in Singapore made, shaped in lions or goldfish (they no longer do this).

Would I have more luck in Hong Kong, I wondered….

Well, quite suddenly, I halted in my tracks. I spotted a stall selling moon cakes with durian. It was the only stall I had seen in the entire exhibition. Just to make sure that this was the case, I walked around twice more and confirmed that this was indeed the only stall.

Durian mooncake pricelist

Durian moon cake price list

This was certainly the most attractively designed price list among all the stalls (to me anyway). You can see how the price escalates to almost double between the D24 and the Mao Shan Wang fillings. All these are snow skin chilled durian moon cakes only, no baked ones. The price on the left indicates the per box cost, while the price on the right indicates how much it costs per cake, if you wish to buy them individually. Interesting that the most expensive one is a durian which I think is called the golden phoenix (last on the list).

Only 2 boxes of D24 mooncakes left

Only 2 boxes of D24 mooncakes left

Now, a peep into the fridge to see the goods. The fridge looked empty except for 2 boxes of D24. These boxes came in a yellowy green hue. Not looking that festive to me, but I guess business was brisk.

See before you buy

See before you buy

A check on the other side of the booth revealed similarly good business for the more expensive varieties. A lady had just purchased a box, which you can see the sales person closing the box. I think it’s great that you need to see and check that you’re getting the right ones, and that they let you. It appeared that some of these boxes had been booked and bagged already, awaiting collection.

Durian mooncakes in Hong Kong

Durian mooncakes in Hong Kong

Clearly these durians are from Malaysia. It says 100% Malaysian Durians on the of the brochure. But WAIT. On the bottom of this brochure, it says “Product of Singapore”. Quite creative, sneaky and probably at a good profit… but that’s food globalization for you.

Did anyone have durian moon cakes this year? Please share your experience.

Ps. If you’re wondering if I managed to buy that piglet, I did, but it was the very last one, retailed at 22 HKD. It was from another booth but I wasn’t that impressed with the flavor. Sigh.

Discover Durians and Peruvian Food at the same time

If you are in Hong Kong today, tonight is your last chance to check out the Discover Peru buffet at Hotel Icon. Sorry for the late notice but we only went to lunch yesterday.

The Peruvian food was delicious, if you go, I highly recommend that you try the ceviche (Peruvian style sashimi) and the Peruvian Shrimp soup which was a highlight. As I went with the Peruvian group here, the dishes were especially authentic and the chef made up a little bit of extra ceviche for our table. Those corn pops (equivalent of beer nuts I’m told) were simply yummy.

Anyway, the Icon Hotel’s restaurant called the Market, has an extensive buffet selection with great presentation. The dessert counter was especially impressive with its nice decor, and of course a fascinating range of durian desserts which I have rarely come across in any hotel buffet.

Here are pictures of what’s available.

Deep Fried Durian Puffs

Deep Fried Durian Puffs

 

First up, durian puffs. I sent SW off to get some dessert and he came back all bright eyed as though he’d dug up some secret treasure. Inside, whole pieces of durian that would fit in the palm of your hand were wrapped in a rice flour and deep fried. Nice flavor but I couldn’t tell if it was MSW or really ripe Monthong.

Probably not the healthiest, but if you’re after healthy, you shouldn’t be anywhere near this counter.

 

 

Durian Cheesecake Squares

Durian Cheesecake Square

 

 

Next up, the durian cheese cake. Lightly baked, this was a nice size to leave you with two bites.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a baked durian cheese morsel. I’m not a big fan of tarts so I didn’t try this but guess it;s a crunchy rendition of the cheesecake.

Baked Durian Cheese Morsels

Baked Durian Cheese Morsels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Durian Pannacotta

Durian Pannacotta

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the durian panna cotta, nicely presented.

Mao Shan Wang Ice Cream

Mao Shan Wang Ice Cream

 

 

And finally the durian ice cream.

 

 

 

 

The ice cream was quite delicious. Full on cold MSW which was cold, creamy and pure durian. Even ZI loved it.

Mao Shan Wang Ice Cream Close up

Mao Shan Wang Ice Cream Close up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So if you have nothing on for dinner, maybe check out the restaurant at the ICON in East TST tonight.

The Market Restaurant @ ICON Hotel

The Market Restaurant @ ICON Hotel