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…
Tracy, Honeykids Editor and durian cynic
I honestly am so baffled by the love for this stinky, revolting tasting 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 durians doesn’t always run in the family. My daughter, Gemma is a child of the modern times, but she loves the smell and taste, while my eldest, Tessa can’t stand it.
The durian lowdown
Not everyone is on board with durians, 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’t change perceptions (including Tracy’s), or in the very least, expand our kids’ gastronomical horizons.
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 ($6.10 a scoop). 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, locations in Upper Thomson, East Coast, Novena and Bukit Timah, p. 6452 0803, www.udders.com.sg
Ritz Apple Strudel
Ritz doesn’t just do a killer apple strudel, but 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 ($39.50), half ($19.70), or bite-sized mini strudels ($6.50). Careful though, those will disappear in a flash! There’s even a Mille Crepe Durian ($84.00) for the ultimate fusion of French pastry and Asian flavour.
Ritz Apple Strudel, various locations, ritzapplestrudel.com
Four Seasons Durian
Four Seasons Durian offers freshly cut Mao Shan Wang durians from Hilltop Pahang at $28 per kg delivered to your doorstep. You can even ask them to cut for you! But if you’d rather not stink up the house, you can eat in at the Mao Shan Wang Cafe in Chinatown. There you can tuck into Black Charcoal Mao Shan Wang Durian Pizza ($23.80), nuggets and fries with a durian dip and then top it all off with a scoop of durian ice cream and a best selling durian puff. Indulgent is an understatement…
Mao Shan Wang Cafe, 49 Temple St, Singapore 058594; www.fourseasonsdurians.com
8Tarts n Pastries
8Tarts n Pastries does a durian version of the crumbly egg tart ($1.70 per piece) that’s definitely worth writing home about. There are also plenty of other durian pastries on offer at this Halal-certified cafe, including the Thousands Layer Flaky Pastry stuffed with rich D24 durian filling ($2 per piece, $3.50 for 2 pieces). Psst… there’s also a Nutella version to that.
8Tarts n Pastries, #B1-58 Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103, p. 6338 6156, www.facebook.com/8tarts
Durian specials at Honeymoon Dessert include, pancakes ($4.80), glutinous dumplings ($4.80), durian and glutinous rice ($7.50), and a refreshing dish of durians served with a side of vanilla or green tea ice cream ($8). No better way to end off a meal, we say.
Honeymoon Dessert, various locations, www.honeymoon-dessert.com
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 ($5) from Mei Heong Yuan Dessert, is a super-light dish of ice shavings crowned with durian sauce… heavenly!
Mei Heong Yuan Dessert, various locations, www.meiheongyuendessert.com.sg
Sunny Hills, Forbidden
Fans of cigare cookies are going to love the newly introduced D24 Cigare from Sunny Hills’ Forbidden. This buttery cookie is a personal fave and crumbles deliciously on first bite. The durian flavour isn’t overpowering but tasty instead and paired with the beautiful packaging makes for a fancy gift.
Sunny Hills, Ngee Ann City (Tower B), Unit #B2-27A Takashimaya S.C., Singapore 238872; shop.sunnyhills.com.sg
The Roti Prata House
How about a different spin on everyone’s favourite Indian pancake: the durian prata ($6)? Available at The Roti Prata House, we’re curious to find out if it will still go with the curry dip…
The Roti Prata House, 246 Upper Thomson Rd, Singapore 574370
Running low on snacks? Stock up with Mao Shan Wang love letters ($37.80) and durian cookies (form $39) 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, 15 Jalan Tepong #04-09, Jurong Food Hub, Singapore 619336, available at nine locations islandwide, p. 6272 2028, e. email@example.com; www.homesfavourite.com
Getting it right…
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 the ripest durians:
- 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 everyone!
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