Always been curious about durian but never dared to try it? These tantalising snacks are a good way to kickstart your love affair with the spiky green fruit. They are also mild enough for picky taste buds!
No matter the season, Singapore’s always buzzing with excitement over anything durian. Here at HoneyKids HQ, we’re always ready to try new things, and we’re always excited over local cuisine and hawker food. However, this particular fruit has caused something of a split in opinion…
To durian, or not to durian?
Tracy, mum of three and durian cynic
Honestly, I am so baffled by the love for this stinky, revolting fruit. I just DON’T GET IT! I can just about get past the smell, but the taste? No, no, no! I tried it once, way back when I first arrived, and the horror is still with me 10 years on. It made me retch, and I’ve never been able to tempt myself again. Bleugh. Sorry! If it’s any consolation, I feel the same about papaya…
Dawn, mum of two and durian connoisseur
I’ve grown up eating durians, and I prefer the bittersweet flavour as opposed to other species like the crunchy Thai durians, Monthong. When we were younger, after eating the durian, we would put a little water and salt in the shell, mix it around and drink it straight from the shell! It’s supposed to soothe the tummy. But loving durian doesn’t always run in the family. My daughter, Gemma, is a child of modern times, but she loves the smell and taste, while my eldest, Tessa, can’t stand it.
The lowdown: 22 different ways to eat durian
Not everyone is on board with durians, and that’s fine. But whether you’re a veteran durian lover or a first-timer, there are places where you can get your durian fix – in more ways than one. We’ve looked into some of the best places serving up this love-it-or-hate-it fruit to see if we can change perceptions (including Tracy’s). Or at the very least, maybe we expand our kids’ gastronomical horizons?
1. Durian cheesecake from The Durian Bakery
One of the food obsessions that transpired during circuit breaker (remember those times?) was the basque burnt cheesecake. This bakery elevated that by infusing real Mao Shan Wang durian core into the cheesecake. Cream cheese and durians – that’s two very strong flavours in one dish. If you’re looking for something that neutralises the strong durian taste, perhaps anything with chocolate? The Durian Bakery has loads of that on its menu; just pick one, and you’re good to go.
The Durian Bakery, 2 Jalan Lokam Kensington Square, #01-47, Singapore 537846
2. Durian puff from IKEA
Most folks love going to Ikea to shop for furniture, but we personally head there just to eat! The Swedish giant has introduced the king of fruits into its dessert menu, in line with the durian season. There are plenty to choose from, but how about you get started on the easiest food item? The durian cream puff features the D24 variation housed within Ikea’s well-loved flaky pastry puff. It’s simple, with no frills, but still decadent. Do note that the durian desserts are only available from Mondays to Thursdays, now till 31 August.
IKEA, locations at Jurong East, Tampines, and Alexandra
3. Durian doughnut from Delish
We’re massive fans of doughnuts over here, as you know. So, we got pretty excited knowing that Delish stocks doughnuts that are stuffed with durian pengat. The combination of soft, pillowy bombos with creamy custard is just making our mouths water. You can get them as a box of 10 or 15, but if those may prove too much, get one box with an assortment of flavours. Either way, you’ll defo enjoy these doughnuts. Why? Cuz they’re too delish for words…
Delish, online only
4. Durian pengat from Ellenborough Market Cafe
While many people flock to Ellenborough Market Cafe for its buffets, the one dish that’s got everyone coming back for more is its signature durian pengat. Each spoonful leaves a sweet, silky taste in the mouth; one bowl is definitely not enough. Besides the pengat, there are other desserts in the durian series that you can try. Durian tiramisu for you? Or perhaps the durian panna cotta is calling out to you. Try them all, we say!
Ellenborough Market Cafe, Paradox Singapore Merchant Court at Clarke Quay, 20 Merchant Road, Singapore 058281
5. Durian mooncakes from Golden Moments
When you think of anything durian, the first thing that should come to mind is Golden Moments. This brand has the biggest selection of durian desserts in Singapore for you to choose from. However, since Mid-Autumn Festival is approaching, we recommend you try out the durian mooncakes. The signature Mao Shan Wang snowskin mooncakes are made using luscious durian puree and silken charcoal snowskin, with premium dash gold finishing. There’s another version that features chocolate, too.
Golden Moments, Victory Centre, 110 Lorong 23 Geylang, #07-13, Singapore 388410
6. Durian mochi from Gin Thye
Gin Thye is a homegrown heritage brand that’s famous for its wedding biscuits and cakes. But did you know that you can get durian desserts from the brand too? Its bestseller is the premium durian mochi, which is made with Japanese mochi skin and durian pulp. One box features ten pieces, which is more than enough for the entire fam. (Though we reckon you should get more than one box!) The kids will definitely enjoy this as an afternoon snack. Remember to pop this in the freezer; they’re best enjoyed cold.
Gin Thye, 427 Sembawang Road, Singapore 758394
7. Fried durian ice cream from Majestic Restaurant
Feeling a little adventurous? Then head on down to this restaurant and sample the fried durian, which comes with maple syrup. We love anything fried over here (curry puffs! banana fritters!) so this sounds appetising. If you end up liking it, cleanse your palette with the array of dim sum dishes instead. And then try again the fried durian ice cream again – if you dare.
Majestic Restaurant, Marina One East Tower, 5 Straits View, #04-01, Singapore 018935
8. Durian Sunshine cake from Four Seasons Durian
Here’s another well-known local brand if you’re searching for your durian fix in Singapore. Four Seasons Durian has myriad durian desserts for you to sample; out of the many, we recommend you try out the sunshine cake. Generous durian puree filling is cocooned within a fluffy layer of sponge cake and topped with a layer of cream outside. Once you’ve tried this, you’re more than ready to take out the other stuff Four Seasons has to offer.
Four Seasons Durian, outlets at Ang Mo Kio Hub, Nex, and Century Square
9. Durian kueh salat from Durian Lab Cafe (temporarily closed)
Ask any Singaporean who’s the best durian seller in Singapore, and Ah Seng Durian is the name that comes up the most – its popularity is known throughout the country. Durian Lab Cafe, located at Bukit Merah, is its venture into artisanal durian desserts. While there are plenty of sweet treats on the menu, we fell in love with its MSW kueh salat. An amalgamation of the fruit and the traditional kueh, this offering is both good to eat and pretty to photograph.
Durian Lab Cafe, 119 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-22, Singapore 151119
10. Durian coconut pudding from Ms Durian
Are all the options in this list too intimidating for your palette? Well, you can start small by sampling this durian pudding from Ms Durian. A perfect blend of Mao Shan Wang durian and fresh coconut milk, the durian taste is not so intense here. We say this is the perfect introduction to the fruit. Once you’re accustomed to the flavour profile, go ahead and try out the other durian desserts.
Ms Durian, 11 Kelantan Road, Singapore 208604
11. Durian tea from Hi Tea
If you can’t eat it, perhaps you can attempt to drink it? Hi Tea has innovatively combined fragrant jasmine tea with real chunks of D24 durian meat and come up with this concoction. You can customise the ice and sugar levels and add toppings too. It’s definitely one new way of experiencing durian, that’s for sure.
Hi Tea Singapore, Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road, #01-14B (beside taxi stand), Singapore 228213
12. Durian milkshake from DurianBB
Okay, so durian tea is not your thing. May we interest you in a durian milkshake instead? Made using Mao Shan Wang pulp and Meiji milk, this combination brings out the creaminess of the fruit and fills us up pretty quickly. If you’re not keen, you can go ahead and try the other products on offer here. We like its take on the traditional kuihs, infused with durian. Durian kuih koci for you? Or maybe the durian ondeh-ondeh?
DurianBB, 462 Crawford Lane, #01-65, Singapore 190462
13. Durian pizza from Pezzo
Pineapple on pizza is already a divisive issue among pizza lovers, but what if you swap that for durian? Pezzo’s durian pizza features the king of fruit on top of its crust. Made with Mao Shan Wang, the pizzeria promises a creamy, indulgent taste the moment you sink your teeth into the pizza. We reckon this is one durian dish in Singapore that can convert those who are on the fence into full-fledged durian lovers.
Pezzo Pizza, various locations across Singapore
14. Durian fish soup from Wang Yuan Fish Soup
Fish soup is universally known as a comforting meal, especially on rainy days. But paired with durian? We’re not sure if it’s comforting anymore… Nonetheless, this pairing is available at Wang Yuan Fish Soup, located in a coffee shop in central Tampines. Each serving comes with rice, two types of vegetables, minced meat, and durian flesh. The stall claims this dish provides the nutrients that can help boost your immunity.
Wang Yuan Fish Soup, 519A Tampines Central 8, Singapore 523519
15. Durian ice cream from Udders Ice Cream
Ask any durian fanatic, and they’ll be more than happy to wax lyrical about the durian potong – a delish durian-flavoured popsicle that defined childhood in the ’80s and ’90s in Singapore. These bad boys are still available in your local grocery store, but if you’re after something creamier, try Udder’s Mao Shan Wang durian ice cream. It’s the perfect way to cool off on a warm day and satisfy your sweet tooth. If you chicken out at the last minute, there are still tons of other flavours available for the less adventurous palate.
Udders, several locations, including Upper Thomson and Beach Road
16. Durian strudel from Ritz Apple Strudel
Ritz doesn’t just do a killer apple strudel. It offers other flavours too, including mango, peach, blueberry and – yes, you guessed it, durian. The velvety-smooth filling goes really well with the crisp and flaky pastry, and you can choose from three sizes: full, half, or bite-sized mini strudels. Careful though, those will disappear in a flash! There’s even a durian mille crepe cake for the ultimate fusion of French pastry and Asian flavour.
Ritz Apple Strudel, multiple locations including Ang Mo Kio Hub and Tampines Mall
17. Durian love letters from Sunny Hills
Fans of classic love letter rolls are going to love the D24 durian roll from Sunny Hills. This buttery cookie is a personal fave and crumbles deliciously on the first bite. The durian flavour isn’t overpowering but tasty. Paired with the beautiful packaging, this makes for a fancy gift for all durian lovers.
Sunny Hills, outlets at Takashimaya Shopping Centre and Raffles Hotel
18. Durian snow ice from Mei Heong Yuan Dessert
Durian desserts don’t discriminate… so here’s an option for those of you who need a gluten or dairy-free option. The durian snow ice from Mei Heong Yuan Dessert is a super-light dish of ice shavings crowned with durian sauce. Heavenly! Pop by its outlet at Liang Seah Street if you’re out late and looking for a sweet treat for supper.
Mei Heong Yuan Dessert, various locations, including Suntec City and Chinatown Point
19. Durian cookies from Home’s Favourite
Running low on snacks? Stock up with Mao Shan Wang love letters and durian cookies from Home’s Favourite. These crispy and seriously addictive goodies will keep you going through the day. Don’t forget to head back during mooncake season for its snowskin durian mooncakes!
Home’s Favourite, Jurong Food Hub, 15 Jalan Tepong, #04-09, Singapore 619336
20. Durian prata from The Roti Prata House
How about a different spin on everyone’s favourite Indian pancake: the durian prata? Available at The Roti Prata House, we’re curious to see if it will still go with the curry dip…
The Roti Prata House, 246 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574370
21. Durian desserts from Honeymoon Dessert
Durian specials at Honeymoon Dessert include pancakes, glutinous dumplings, durian and glutinous rice, and a refreshing dish of durians served with a side of vanilla or green tea ice cream. No better way to end a meal, we say.
Honeymoon Dessert, various locations
22. Durian buffet
If you’d rather have all the durian treats in one sitting, you can go ahead and reserve a spot at durian buffets across Singapore. One of the most famous durian buffets is at Goodwood Park Hotel. From now till 6 August, the luxe hotel holding its annual Durian Fiesta, where you can sample six handcrafted creations and their mainstays. But if you think you’re more than ready to level up, then we recommend you hit up the durian party by Zeng Zu Fu. At $78, you are guaranteed the freshest durians. Yum!
Durian 101: how to prepare and eat them
If these dishes have sparked your curiosity to try the real deal, here are some tips and tricks on how to identify the freshest and ripest durians in Singapore:
- Squeeze the thorns. Soft = ripe.
- Shake it to hear if the fruit has detached from the inner walls
- And the most obvious: if you can smell it before you see it.
Lacking the means to buy and cut the whole fruit yourself? Here are some tips on how to purchase prepared ones that come in the box:
Colour: If you prefer a more bitter taste, go for the durians with ‘whiter’ flesh. If you prefer them sweet, choose the yellowish or the rarer red or orange flesh.
Type: Famous durian brands include Mao Shan Wang (Cat Mountain King or King of Cat Mountain), XO, D24, Hei Zhen Zhu (Black Pearl) and Sultan Durian. Our personal pick is Hong Xia (Red Prawn) which has a more reddish flesh and a sweeter, milkier texture.
Where is it from? Even if the durians aren’t from famous durian plantations like Tiger Hill or ‘ma bo’ Muar, your next best bet is that they come from a ‘lao shu’ or old tree that’s borne fruit more than once. Not a guarantee of taste, but still worth knowing so you can look out for them.
Happy durian eating, folks!