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.

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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?

A special durian import from Singapore

I was so happy when JaQ contacted me informing me that she was coming to Hong Kong… and more importantly did I want any durian?

Well you all know the answer to that! I asked her to bring for me what she could reasonably carry without overburdening herself. We agreed on two boxes.

She told me that she’d obtain the durian from the stall in Dempsey which she had gone to a few nights before. She said the durian was delicious but that the season was ending. STOP. Let me interpret that for you. Season ending means price is on an upward trajectory. 

A few nights before, JaQ paid 23 SGD per kilo… by the time she got it for me, it had increased to 28 SGD per kilo. JaQ’s observation was that it was buying gold, with a daily spot price. She’s absolutely right! 

Anyway I asked her to take some photos for me so that I can share the experience. I have to say now that both the durian and the packaging was fantastic. A big thank you to JaQ for all the effort. Much appreciated.

Ok here we go:


Doesn’t look like much of a crowd that night. Three couples on a durian date… because it’s the ultimate test.


In the event you’d like to inquire and reserve your durians in advance.. the only way to secure the better quality fruit.


JaQ got me 3 durians, just about 4.5Kg.


Ooh look at the beautiful fruit… it got me salivating.., I could imagine the aroma…


As it was coming by air, it had to be properly sealed. The vendor uncle did a good job ensuring that the durian didn’t move within the container (individual wrapping in cling film takes care of that) and the paper absorbs moisture, prevents prying eyes and heat penetration.


Then everything slips into a vacuum bag for air-tight sealing. Not forgetting the label, of course. Nothing going in or out of that, not even a molecule of air. Yup.


The ringgit is really weak, good for Singaporeans who enjoy Malaysia imported food 🙂


JaQ even threw in a gift for me! Thanks JaQ! Freeze dried durian. I’ve opened it and had a few pieces but am saving it… it has to last me til Christmas when I return for my next fill!

Nicely designed dried durian packaging

Most packaging for durians look somewhat cheesy, in the sense that the picture of the durian is too perfect and often placed in a traditional pose on an aluminium foil packet. I liked the play on the fonts and the very bark like colours chosen for the background.

  
This Thai manufacturer actually invested a little more thought and design into their product package and even touts durian benefits… Although this claim is not exclusive to durian alone. 

   

 I didn’t buy it though. Can’t bring myself to handle the disappointment of eating Thai durian ;).