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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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.

Latest durian prices at CitySuper

As you descend the escalators from Lane Crawford down to CitySuper in Causeway Bay, a welcome whiff or durian greets you. If your nose is fairly sensitive, you’ll be guided between the various displays of Christmas goodies and snacks into the cavernous supermarket. These seasonal displays have taken over the front section and the usual fruit and fresh produce has been shifted inside.

I turned left towards the massive array of cheeses, nope the scent was off. So I turned back right and yep, picked up the scent again. Weaving in and out I finally found the durians round the back of the shelf near the drinks section towards the cashiers.

The aroma was very robust and with good sharp accents yet had a soft sweet touch to it. Musang king yes. But what else?

Ahhh the black thorn is here.

But so is the Musang king.

I was curious which one commanded a higher price. The black thorn became a popular hybrid a few years ago but I remember noting this durian in Penang almost a decade ago.

How much does each set you back?

Well, the black thorn durians are HKD 46 per 100 grams and the Musang Kings are a HKD 40 per 100 grams.

The Black thorn durians are also looking a little larger than the Musang Kings hence the higher price on the ticket per fruit.

Price wise, the Musang Kings at Sogo we’re a little cheaper but not by much.

I guess if you’re a CitySuper good card holder perhaps it works out the same post discount.

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.

What to bring your sister’s in laws? Durian as a gift

I’ve been eyeing the durian in styrofoam boxes sitting out at Fu Wing for the last few weeks. At HKD 109 per pound, I’m waiting and looking to make up an excuse and occasion to have one.

Musang Kings at Fu Wing, Wan Chai


Well, the perfect reason came up about two weeks ago. We were invited out to Tuen Mun for a toddler’s birthday party and I thought we might as well maximise our trip by visiting my sister’s in laws who live by the Gold Coast (HK, not Aus). They kindly invited us to dine at home, and as he is a chef, would serve up the most delicious home made dishes. We knew we were in for a treat and gladly accepted. 

We ran through our list of “what to bring to friend’s house for dinner” and found it somewhat limited and unappealing. I mean, we’re eating at a professional Singaporean chef’s home… bringing anything made by anyone else just wouldn’t cut it. It might even be construed as an insult. 

How about durian…” SW suggested. 

Marvellous idea, I think there’s a mini season happening” I replied. 

I stopped by Fu Wing to ask if the durian was any good. 

Very very delicious” replied the owner in Cantonese, “the flesh is fragrant and soft“.

I like bitter, are you able to choose a bitter one for me?

Can, can, the flavour is bittersweet“.

On the day, I rang and confirmed my order. A medium-sized durian, bittersweet, wrapped as a whole fruit with husk.

We paid HKD 450 for it and had him seal it up with newspaper and cling film as best he could (despite his protests that the durian would start to go bad due to humidity). It was only going to be a few hours, it’s been relatively cool and we didn’t want to stink up the toddler party or our taxi. Unfortunately here they haven’t caught on to the vacuum sealing packaging systems yet. 

So here are the details.

Musang King Durian: Eat me Eat me!


The Mao Shan Wang durian was fresh, the flesh was delicate yet firm, the aromas wafting out once we opened it. The center portions were dry and the seeds were small, flat and pebble-like. 


I would say that the only disappointment was that the flavour was distinctly sweet, we didn’t detect a hint of bitter at all. 

Overall enjoyable for an off season but we wished that the flavour was more distinctive. Oh durian lovers are so hard to please… but at these crazy prices,  fruit vendors have to choose their suppliers well and wisely.

Durians in Jakarta Supermarkets

GrandLucky Supermarket - Durian for sale

On a durian hunting outing during the weekend in Jakarta, Stinky Spikes spotted 2 supermarkets selling durian. In South Jakarta, 2 supermarkets have durian for sale. At GrandLucky, the durian aromas wafts towards you as you walk towards the fruit and vegetable section. The durians are from Thailand and were still in their shells and some of them were already split and open. And there was just one packet of durian for sale.

At thirty two thousand rupiah (RM 11), the durian looked quite ripe and soft, almost mushy. We think that this packet was left out for everyone to see what the quality, color and texture is like. This packet has probably u

ndergone severe molestation by all sort of fingers poking it to see whether the flesh yields. Poor packet. I think it is destined to become pulp and mushed up for a puff, pancake or dodol. If you’re there at GrandLucky and have a craving, you can find this whole crate at the back near the fresh fruit section. Quite surprisingly though, you can’t smell it until you’re almost 5 feet or less away from the entire crate. The reason I suppose, is that all the durians are still in their shells or husks, so the smells are contained and also keeps the fruit relatively fresh. The downside of this though, is that you have no idea what the fruit inside looks like or tastes like until you purchase it. Since Thailand has managed to achieve food SOP consistency, perhaps this isn’t as big a gamble as one might think.

Durian at Grandlucky from Thailand

 

All the durians looked to be of even size and very even coloring. I would estimate the weight of each to be between 2-3 Kilos.

It’s so funny that each of them had a red sticker around the evenly cut stems, with the telephone number and email address of the Thai company selling them.  I suppose it might be because it is direct sourcing from the plantation or agent.

Then we went to Lotte supermarket and while browsing around , discovered that they had a crate of durian too. It must be the Thais getting very savvy at exporting their fruit overseas. Similarly to GrandLucky, they also had the durians in their shells, although there were a few more packets on display. These durians looked a little darker (just slightly) in the shade of their husk and didn’t have a red sticker but a green sticker instead.

Thai Durian on display at the Jakarta Lotte Mart

And, like the ones at GrandLucky, exuded no smell at all. I began to wonder if they were all the new species from Chantanaburi. There is no way that any respectable supermarket in Malaysia would have local durians displayed thus because it would just stink out the entire area.

The durians were quite inexpensive. This 2.28Kg durian costs only 54 thousand rupiah, which roughly translates as 6 USD or less than 25 Ringgit. I can’t say about the quality though because we didn’t buy any (was not going home yet). And they had this one on display cut open so that shoppers could also see the nice golden pillow texture of the Thai durian. Notice that the husk is quite golden in color. Definitely genetically selected. These durians at the lotte were going for about 10% less than those at GrandLucky.

Whole Durians for sale at Lotte Mart, Jakarta

If anyone decides to fulfil a craving in the city, you know where you can get imported Thai durian. I am waiting to try the local durian selection to compare it with Malaysia’s wonderfully tasty species.