A feast of kampung durians

Wild Durians

Kampung durians are the catch-all term for all non-cultivated durians. The word literally means “durians from the village”. These are generally not top shelf durian clones but backyard durians or wild durians from the jungle, thus “durian kampung”. It can also come from orchards which didn’t specifically breed a certain type of durian e.g. D24 or Musang King.

Village Durians

Selecting a kampong durian is always a bit like opening up a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. It’s usually sold in batch e.g. 2-5 for RM 10. These can range from cheap “4 for RM 10″ deals to RM 10/kg (depending on quality).

Durian Kampong

I went for the bottom shelf durians this time, with an emphasis on strange or unusual ones and getting as wide a variety as I could.

Durian Kampung

For all I know some of these durians aren’t even durio zibethinus – it could be any other of the edible durian species. Lindsay from yearofthedurian.com has compiled an exhaustive list of edible durian species and it’s an interesting read for all durian enthusiasts.

RM 10 for 2

Jungle Durians

This batch is my most exciting find.

Starfruit Durian

I noticed a durian shaped like a starfruit (carambola) and wondered if it’s the same one that I met in 2012. It was called “five star durian” – a direct translation from “mm zhi guo” (which means five fingered durian).

Carambola Durian

The starfruit shaped durian tasted pretty good – the pale flesh was bittersweet and tender, it’s also very sticky, giving a distinctive aftertaste. Each of the five (5) segments have seeds and flesh inside, which was a little surprising considering its size.

Five Finger Durian

The other durian from this category has a yellow husk and opened up to rather wet flesh with a slight fermented aftertaste and a REALLY STRONG ODOR. It tasted better when chilled in the fridge for a few hours but eating it requires you to really love durians – it tasted very *intense*. It’s like the Limburger of durians!

Limberger Durian

Interestingly, my better half had tasted Limberger cheese when we went to Germany last year and she couldn’t stand it. She couldn’t stand this either. The taste is really breathtaking, in more ways than one – my breath smelled like death for 48 hours after eating this one and I’ve eaten a lot of durians, never to this effect.

RM 10 for 3

Backyard Durians

These are the RM 10 for 3 durians. Basically you can pick any three (3) durians for RM 10. These kampong durians are generally smaller in size and I have opened all of them to do a rudimentary check.

Kampong Durians

The first durian was wetter than usual, and very bitter. The second one was slightly sweet and tasted quite nice. The third one had a segment that was spoiled but otherwise tasted fine as well.

Durio Zibethinus

All three tasted very different and I thought that was part of the appeal of having a kampung durian degustation, although none yielded much meat. You’ll get better value for money if you just go for the regular durian clones but this was more for experience.

RM 10 per durian

RM10 Durian

This is a larger durian, it weighed in at 1.5 kg and was supposed to go for RM 10/kg but I just picked it out of a basket so they gave me a discount. Unfortunately, the flesh was inedible – it has not yet ripened.

Inedible Durian

I did take a few bites but it was like eating pure starch. The best analogy I can give is if you ate plantains raw vs a Cavendish banana.

Kampung Durians

I thought our kampong durian day went rather well. The biggest one was a dud but the five finger durian more than made up for it. I was also very happy with my “Limburger durian” – the profane smelling yellow husked beauty. It’s a very good find indeed, this must be what some people mean when they say they prefer kampung durians due to the extra strong aroma and taste. :)

D24 Durian Types: Sultan, Super D24, Highland D24

D24 Durian

The D24 Durian used to be the most popular and in-demand durian before the advent of D175/Red Prawn/Ang Heh and later D197/Musang King/Raja Kunyit. It’s still the favorite of many people, but has lost some of its star appeal since it’s so common now (and I predict the same would happen to Musang King in the future – a glut).

D24 Sultan Durians

However, it’s still a very good and well-rounded durian – bitter to bittersweet, fleshy and creamy and strong smelling. There are various “subtypes” of the D24 durian – regular D24, Super D24, and XO, in increasing price.

Durian D24

Highland D24 is another subtype (although I don’t know what differentiates it from Super D24) coming from a higher altitude and older trees.

Durian Seller

I’ve eaten a lot of D24 durians this season, primarily coz my better half likes it. They’re from various sources, old trees (Super D24/Highland D24) to ones of unknown provenance like this uncle selling D24 durians from the boot of his car.

D24 Durian Weight

I found his stall while driving and he’s selling them for RM 10/kg and says it’s from his own orchard.

D24 Highland Durians

I selected one myself from his basket and chose the one with the most D24 characteristics:

D24 Durian Bottom

This one is green with a flat round spot in the bottom of the fruit…

D24 Durian Characteristics

…and has a classic crown with spikes growing over the short stem.

D24 Sultan

It turns out to be quite good but he has never revealed where his orchard was. It’s also a steal at RM 10/kg for this sort of quality.

Super D24 Durian

I’ve also gone for the “RM 20 for 3″ deals which is a mixture of smaller fruits of D24 Sultan, Highland D24 and Super D24.

Super D24

There’s also a couple of Durian Jantung fruits in here, which I suspect is a type of D24. I could be totally wrong on this account though, since the seeds in a Durian Jantung is small and vestigial, totally unlike any other D24 variants.

D24 Jantung

It is interesting though, to see the progression in tastes and preference – back in the days, D24 durians was the popular choice, and although it has been eclipsed by other durians now, it’s still a good choice if you want a classic and delicious durian with no frills.

Double Feature: D18 and D2 (Dato Nina) Durians

Dato Nina

I was searching for Tai Yuen durians over the weekend and drove to Donald’s Durian new Section 19 place (which is just around the corner from their old SS2 stall). I haven’t been here in a while coz their old place was so huge that all the interaction was with their hired workers, some of whom couldn’t explain the different durians properly and just wanted to get the sale done.

Donalds Durian Section 19

That was in the past though – there’s no such problem now, their latest location is smaller and the owners and key people are all there at your disposal. I met Cindy (who somehow recognized me from my blog) and she told me all I wanted to know about their durians. Unfortunately, the Tai Yuen durians were all sold out.

Donalds Durian

I was told that the Johor durians season is ebbing right now (though it might start again) so all the durians are from Pahang. The service is extremely friendly and knowledgeable – two things I look for in a durian stall. It also helps that their goods are very fresh due to the high turnover and all the durians just fell and came from the orchards on the very same day.

D18 Durian

D18

This D18 Durian is a slightly bitter durian with large seeds and very little flesh. I haven’t eaten it in a very long time and I wanted my better half to try it too. The durian is almost perfectly round with a very thick skin. There were only 4 locules in my Durian D-18 with 2 pods each (one had 3). That comes up to just 9 seeds and flesh from one 1.4 kg durian.

D18 Durian

Furthermore, the flesh surrounding the seeds is extremely thin. This isn’t a meaty durian, you eat it for the taste.

Durian D18

The large seed combined with the meagre flesh doesn’t make this a very popular durian clone but I was after the less popular ones this weekend, to introduce to my dear the sheer variety that durians exhibit and the extreme difference between the various clones and cultivars.

D18 Durian Flesh

The D18 Durian is good for what it is – a simple durian from the older days with very little (albeit tasty) bitter and fibreless flesh and large seeds. I’ll call the flesh on the seeds more like a coating than flesh per se. Haha. I love the characteristic wrinkly skin of the D18 though. It’s a bit of a curiosity and I highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it before.

D18 Durians

It won’t be the cheapest durian out there since the total amount of flesh you can get from one would barely make you satiated, much less full. The D18 Durian’s weight mostly comes from the large seeds and thick skin. It’s is listed at RM 17/kg so this fruit cost RM 24, but if you’re a true durian fan, you’ll want to get your hands on one just to see what it’s like.

D2 Durian (Dato’ Nina)

D2 Durian

Cindy recommended their D2 Durian. This is commonly known as Dato’ Nina and she told me they just came from the orchard in Pahang today. I opened one to try and it blew me away.

Durian D2

I was amazed! I instantly felt ecstatic when I tasted the D2 Durian – it’s like a drug! The combination of fat and sugar (which supposedly doesn’t exist in nature) elevated my mood so much I thought I had accidentally ingested a controlled substance. smirk The Dato Nina was rich, creamy bittersweet goodness and the fiber makes you chew and extract more flavor out of the flesh with every mouthful.

Cindy

It was so good that I immediately got another D2 Durian coz I knew 1 would not be enough.

D2 Durians

That’s the difference between fresh, top quality durians – it makes you want more. It was going for RM 16/kg and the first durian weighed 1.5 kg (RM 24) while the second came in at 1.7 kg (RM 27).

D2 Dato Nina

I’ve eaten so much fibreless durians this season (Musang King etc) that I’ve almost forgotten what a good fibrous durian can taste like. It can be even more flavorful since the fiber forces you to munch more and each time your molars masticate the durian flesh, the strong notes of D2 comes through with every bite.

Dato Nina Durian

I can see why the more fibrous durians like D160 (Teka / Green Bamboo) has their own cult following. Dato Nina was one of the earliest registered clones (1934) and she’s not showing any signs of her age. It’s shaped like a kidney, very odd and distinctive so it’s quite easy to recognize. The D2 durian is also very, very hard to open unless you’re an expert. Even the staff had some problems and expended a lot of effort opening the two D2 durians I chose, but easily cracked open the D18.

D2 Seeds

The D2 durian looks like a messy slop of pulp but nothing could be further from the truth. The seeds from this Dato Nina is shrunken and vestigial, which is why the durian flesh doesn’t “hold its shape” and flops around. You get a whole lot of flesh around a tiny and flat little finger sized seed. There’s also a larger shark teeth shaped seed, which can be found around 1/4 of the time, while the rest are tiny seeds or no seeds. It’s quite unusual.

D2 Durian Flesh

While I’ll normally wolf down durians, the D2 Durian forces you to ponder over it, to take your time and appreciate all the subtle and not-so-subtle nuances and savour every delicious mouthful. Just as I thought no more taste can be extracted anymore, another chew to attempt to get through the fibrous flesh proved me wrong and engulfed my palate with a deluge of more wonderful flavors and aromas from the Dato Nina.

D2 D18 Durians

I’m converted – a good Dato Nina freshly fallen from the orchard can be better than most of the more famous branded durians. My better half didn’t like the fibrous nature so much though so YMMV. Personally, I’ll go back to Donald’s Durian again just to eat their wonderfully sourced D2 durians coz we finished the last of it a few hours ago.

5 of the best durians this season: Musang King (D197), Green Skin (D145), Tembaga (D118), XO, D7

1. Musang King (Mao Shan Wang/D197/Raja Kunyit)

Musang King

This beauty is from a very old tree. That’s important as older trees produce a more complex flavor profile, often described as chocolate. Like all Musang King, this durian has absurdly creamy and sticky flesh that coats the mouth with intense sticky bittersweet goodness.

D197 Musang King

The characteristic saffron like flesh is wrinkled and you can see the seeds peeking through the skin. It’s very flavorful and not for the faint hearted – the concentrated flavors of the durian lingers long and the seeds are flat and tiny.

Raja Kunyit

I got this for RM 25/kg at a new stall I discovered. It has a lot of unusual durians e.g. Durian Tembaga but their smaller selection of Musang Kings are surprisingly good grade. Me and my better half totally devoured this 1.3 kg fruit and left two seeds for her dad. It’s RM 32 for just a few seeds but definitely worth the price. I’ll go back to this stall again.

2. Green Skin (D145)

Green Skin

This is a good example of Green Skin Durian. It’s shaped like a melon and has bright green skin (thus the name). It’s designated as D145 and other popular names include Cheh Poay, Cheh Kak, Durian Hijau and Tuan Mek Hijau/Berserah. It has creamy yellow flesh which is slightly dry (in a good way). This particular Green Skin only had 4 sections, each having two (2) very uniform seeds for a total of 8.

Cheh Poay

I got this for RM 15/kg at a new shop I discovered near SS6. This particular specimen weighed 1.4 kg which comes up to a total of RM 21. Green Skin is a Penang durian (cheh poay literally means green skin in Hokkien) and this place specializes in bringing down durians from the northern states (while others do Pahang, Johor etc).

Green Skin Durian

I think a lot of new durian connoisseurs would love Green Skin – it tastes a lot like Mas Selangor. The flesh is ultra creamy and very, very sweet with little to no fibre. It’s just pure sugary goodness that melts in your mouth, and there’s a lot of flesh. Yum.

3. Durian Tembaga (D118)

Durian Tembaga

I’ve never had this durian before but I know it’s very popular in Indonesia. Durian Tembaga is called such due to the color of the flesh. Tembaga means copper. It has a strange shape with five (5) distinctive sides.

Tembaga Durian

I wanted to try something different and this seller came up with three (3) durian tembaga he was keeping for another buyer (who didn’t turn up). I ended up buying one at RM 18/kg (bargained down from RM 20/kg).

Tembaga

Durian Tembaga is an official clone (D118) but you hardly ever see it around coz it’s one of those lesser known cultivars. That means it doesn’t have the “brand power” of something like Black Thorn, Musang King or Red Prawn (Ang Heh).

D118 Durian Tembaga

That doesn’t mean it’s not good though, if you like thick fleshed durians with a rich and bittersweet profile, you’ll love Durian Tembaga. This durian breed isn’t small though, it’s a medium to large sized fruit – the one I selected weighed 2.7 kg and cost me RM 48. The seeds are small and flat though.

4. Sweet XO

XO Durians

I thought this was a rather weird experience. I bought an starfruit shaped XO and it tasted sweet with little of the alcoholic aftertaste you usually associate with an XO durian. It still tasted good and it was cheap at RM 12/kg and I just assumed it was from a younger tree.

Durians XO

XO Durians are one of the larger species out there – this one weighs 3.3 kg and came up to RM 40. I asked my dear if she tasted an alcoholic aftertaste and she did so maybe it’s me who has a left-of-center palate. I tasted bittersweet notes where she tasted sweet on more than one occasion too.

5. D7 Durian

Durian D7

D7 is a very old durian clone. It was officially registered in 1934, before there was even a Malaysia, which makes it among the first batch of registered durian cultivars. However, throughout the ensuring 81 years, it has waned in popularity (at least among the mass market) which is a bit of a shame. There were only 2 when I went yesterday.

D7 Green Skin Durian

The D7 durian is recognizable from the yellow shell and spikes of the fruit. This is in complete contrast with the Green Skin Durian (which I bought at the same stall). BTW, the color does not denote ripeness, it’s just a breeding characteristic. It’s sold at RM 15/kg for this 1.2 kg fruit. It’s a steal at RM 18.

D7 Durian

It’s very tasty and the seeds are beautiful and appealing, with the flesh pulling back from the seeds slightly. D7 durians tastes slightly moist (not the bad kind of wet like old durians, it just has more moisture than the dry durians) and bittersweet. It’s a great durian for the price.

Durian white coffee, Musang King Tambun biscuits and other oddities

musang king tambun biscuit

This is probably one of the most interesting coffee I’ve ever had. It’s durian coffee and my dear got it for me on our trip to Penang last weekend. I’ve had kopi luwak (civet cat coffee) twice in Indonesia before but this 4-in-1 (the other being powdered durian) instant coffee appeals to me coz I love durians.

durian white coffee

It comes in gold foil packaging and has a wonderful nose. It’s like nothing I’ve ever had. The durian taste and flavor is so intense you can practically taste it. I guess that’s the point, eh? Haha! I can easily drink two cups of this, a wonderful find by my better half.

tau sar pneah

We also got lots of Tambun biscuits (heong pneah) and tau sar pneah for relatives and friends and one of the more interesting finds was one filled with Musang King durians.

musang king biscuits

It comes in a pack of 12 and retails for RM 7.20. This is supposed to be the first ever in Malaysia – Tambun biscuits double filled with Musang King durian pulp. It tastes really good, if you like durians.

white coffee biscuits

There’s also different flavored tau sar pneah (which I guess doesn’t make it tau sar pneah anymore, since “tau sar” translates to red bean). Coffee is one of my favorites. There’s a lot of manufacturers in Penang nowadays, the old school ones made with lard and the newer ones that’s halal to appeal to a broader market.

durian tambun biscuits

We made several trips to buy these and I pronounce them good! It’s been a while since we’ve had these! :)

Mid-Autumn 2013 Mooncake Roundup: Beverage flavored, Disney and Musang King mooncakes!

2013 mooncakes

Yup, it’s the annual Mid-Autumn Mooncake Roundup! Oh wait, I don’t think I ever had one. Haha! I believe one of my first mooncake posts was in 2004 – a review on a rather nice licensed S.H.E. limited edition mooncake set. I’ve also made my own mooncakes before.

There’s three batches of mooncakes I got from 3 different manufacturers this year – most of them *new flavors* for 2013:

tai thong mooncake

1. Tai Thong

This is the first mooncake I ate this year. My girlfriend bought it and gave to me coz she knows I love durian mooncakes!

Snow Skin Durian Coulis (RM 18)

durian mooncake

We absolutely adored this mooncake. The durian flesh is unnamed, probably D24 but it’s really good. The skin balances really well with the flesh too so it’s the durian mooncake benchmark for this year!

tai thong durian

We also wanted to get the Imperial Musang King Royale for RM 78 / 2 pieces but it was sold out!

moon cakes

The 2013 new mooncake flavors:

Sweet Paradise (RM 16.50)

This is a snow skin mooncake from the new flavors under Tai Thong’s moooncake offerings for 2013. They’re having a lot of drink and dessert inspired mooncakes and this is a coffee and custard coffering.

Pineapple Sesame Crunch (RM 16.50)

new mooncakes 2013

We didn’t really like this snow skin mooncake – the pineapple “egg yolk” is alright but the sesame doesn’t really go well with it.

Low Sugar White Lotus Single Yolk x 3 (RM 16.50)

A low sugar variant (very popular these few years for the health conscious) of an old classic!

Assorted Fruits, Nuts with Chicken Bits (RM 16.50)

This used to be made with lard but a lot of mooncake manufacturers now use chicken to comply with the halal certification (okay for Muslims to consume) which is a shame as this is one of the real original mooncakes and I really doubt Muslims are a huge target market in mooncakes – not enough to make a difference anyway.

Teh Tarik Delight (RM 16.50)

It’s the national drink of Malaysia – now in mooncakes. I bought one for us and one of my future-in laws. It was a bit of a letdown though – it wasn’t as tasty as I thought it would be and the pulled milk tea flavor is sadly missing.

The good thing about the Tai Thong mooncakes is that we got not only 30% off but also 2 free mooncakes (for every 4 purchased in a box set)

tai thong mooncakes

The free mooncakes are:

Limau Manis (RM 16.50)

This is translated as “sweet lime” and it’s a baked mooncake. It continues the trend for beverage inspired mooncake (it’s a common drink here) and actually has a sweet lime filling and an asam jeruk (salted dried plum, or known in the states as crack seed) filling as the “egg yolk”. I think this isn’t doing well, which is why it’s the designated giveaway mooncake on purchase.

free mooncakes

White Mocha Delight (RM 16.50)

This is another beverage inspired mooncake in the conventional baked format. It has a chocolate and coffee layer but nothing really pops from this. Tai Thong gives out Limau Manis mooncakes for free as default on purchase of every box of 4 but I asked if I can change and the guy there said that this is the only other option he can give out. You can’t change to other similar priced mooncakes and you have to ask to get the White Mocha Delight so I guess these two aren’t exactly flying off the shelves. smirk

2. GODIVA Mid-Autumn 2013 Mooncake Collection

godiva mooncakes

This is a limited edition I got for my better half which cost me RM 159. It’s the most expensive mooncake I ever bought but well worth it. We ate it on the night itself and the entire GODIVA 2013 Mid-Autumn Limited Edition mooncakes was reviewed on a previous post.

3. The Baker’s Cottage

mooncakes discount

We were just getting some bread one day and saw a huge queue of people buying mooncakes. We didn’t get any that day but there was a Musang King durian mooncake that we had our eye on. I swung over on the afternoon of Mid-Autumn festival and saw that they had a 40% discount across the board!

ultimate musang king

Ultimate Musang King (RM 26.80)

disney mooncakes

This was slightly disappointing…at first. It’s a Disney mooncake with Mickey Mouse stamped on it. We both looked apprehensively at the filling since it doesn’t have the same “real durian flesh” groove going for it. However, after a couple of bites, it turned out that it was really good in its own way too! I’ll say it’ll give Tai Thong’s Snow Skin Durian Coulis a good run for it’s money. Note the difference between the fillings though – this doesn’t have an interior “egg yolk” of real durian flesh:

musang king mooncake

The Bakington version is made with Musang King durians, which explains the price premium. It’s a licensed Disney product too.

Cheesy Choc-Oreo (RM 16.10)

oreo mooncake

I know that my dear loves Oreo (have bought chocolate covered Oreos for her before) and this mooncake seems very promising. It’s a baked mooncake and it’s good but it’s nothing to write home about. It’s just passable but not really breaking any new ground. It does have real Oreo cookies inside though.

Supreme Manju (RM 16.50)

supreme manju 2013

This outstanding mooncake is what the both of us liked the most this year! It was heavily promoted by The Baker’s Cottage – there’s a huge poster saying something along the lines of “2013 new flavor” and so I decided to get one of it to check out.

supreme manju mooncake

It’s bubble wrapped and treated with a lot of respect. This one is baked in-house unlike the licensed Disney mooncakes…and it’s delicious!

The Supreme Manju truly lives up to its name (which I take to mean “supreme satisfaction”) – it’s a Cantonese style Shanghai mooncake with flaky pastry and a toasted pecan nut on top. There’s just something about the combination of the style of the mooncake (always loved Shanghai style pastry over baked or snow skin mooncakes) with the salted egg yolk, mung bean and lotus seed paste combined with maple and custard.

supreme manju

It just works! We just opened it last night (as in Saturday night) and we both loved it! It’s not only cheaper than Tai Thong’s offerings but it’s a new flavor that is so edible, so delicious that my dearest told me it makes you want to have another bite just after finishing one. I agree, the flavor profile is amazing and I wish I had gotten more of this flagship bakery mooncake. It get the title of Best of 2013 from us! :)

Pasar Ramadan Shah Alam – briyani gam, Roti John and enforcement officers!

pasar ramadan shah alam

The Pasar Ramadan in Stadium Shah Alam is reportedly the biggest food bazaar in Malaysia. It opens once a year during the holy month (for Muslims) of Ramadan with various vendors from established shops to home cooks offering all sorts of delicious fare for people to buy and eat when they break their fast.

honey spice chicken

There’s a big stall with lots of BBQ chicken on spits turning over a charcoal fire offering just one item – ayam golek.

ayam golek

Ayam golek basically translates to “spun chicken” (I think) – and this particular stall sells it for RM 19 per chicken or RM 10 for half. The chicken is marinated in madu (honey) and rempah (spices) and it’s one of the most popular stalls there. It tastes really good!

john bread

Roti John stalls are also very popular. It’s basically a long loaf of bread stuffed with various ingredients – anything from beef to seafood.

making roti john

I found one called Papa John with a fearsome queue – the Roti John is done up like an assembly line with a cook at the back and the French loaf sized sandwiches were flying off the table as soon as they got there.

roti john

We got the aptly named Extravaganza for RM 8. The regular ones are half the price but this contains generous slices of oblong burgers in addition to the minced meat (you can choose chicken or beef) that comes with the normal ones. It’s made a lot like a large Ramly burger.

briyani gam batu pahat

Nasi Briyani Gam are also very popular with lots of stalls selling this special that hails from Batu Pahat, Johor. It’s a type of spiced rice that’s strained with a muslin cloth and served with chicken, lamb or beef. The kambing (lamb) is the best and goes for RM 8.

pasar ramadan saman

Funny thing about this stall is that it has no licence and *enforcement officers* were there giving them the good news. smirk

enforcement officers

These enforcement officers roam around the bazaar to look for infractions – you need a special monthly (Ramadan lasts for a month) license in order to set up shop. This one didn’t have the proper license and I heard them negotiating with the enforcement officers, who fined them. It’s still one of the most popular ones though so I bought mine there…while the enforcement officers were writing the ticket. I reckon they’ll need the additional business. ;)

murtabak singapore

There’s also a stall selling durian crepes and Murtabak Singapore (a type of filled roti canai). It’s RM 10 for 6 pillows and it tasted really good. It’s supposed to be made with D24 durians.

durian crepes

It didn’t even last the trip home, we ate the last ones in the car. It’s supposed to be kept cold and it’s yummy when eaten chilled.

fresh dates

I also bought some fresh dates on a branch (quite expensive though) on a specialty date store that also sells various Iranian dates.

smoked duck

There’s also a stall that sells smoked duck – lots of the birds were hanging from a hook.

chicken percik

Ayam percik is another seasonal must have and my dear got a skewer for RM 3.50.

ayam percik

It’s marinated and chicken grilled over a charcoal fire with a unique sauce but it tasted horrible coz one side was burnt. I chose that one coz I thought it’ll impart some nice caramelization (like our honey spiced chicken) but it ended up being tough and bitter instead.

burung goreng

I did like the deep fried quail though.

fried quail

The deep fried quail is simply called called burung goreng (fried bird) and just cost RM 4.50 for an *entire quail*! It’s small but delicious, if you like quail meat and it’s served with spices too.

itek mandi minkak panas

The other good buy we made was at the stall that sells itik mandi minyak panas (duck bathing in hot oil). It’s apparently very famous – they had a bunch of articles in papers featuring the duck. The duck cost RM 38 each, which is about right (ducks cost about twice that of chicken) but we had bought so much stuff that we couldn’t even manage half. The man was kind enough to sell us a quarter (chose the duck leg portion) for RM 10.

oil bathed duck

I thought duck bathing in hot oil is a really funny and quirky name too and the guy manning the counter was very educated and spoke English with an Oxford accent!

egg chicken

There are ready made meals too but we didn’t buy those coz we already had a nasi briyani gam kambing.

sea coconut

Of course, being Ramadan, drinks are big at the bazaar too (since the fasting Muslims do this month includes not drinking during daylight hours). Sea coconut drinks are popular as well as the ubiquitous cendol.

cendol tapai

I couldn’t resist this cendol stall that sells the shaved ice with palm sugar concoctions by the jug. There’s various toppings you can make too – tapai (fermented rice), pulut (glutinous rice) and durian.

cendol jugs

One jug of ice cold cendol costs RM 6 with a topping (went with glutinous rice coz they ran out of fermented rice). I loved it! We got it in a huge plastic bag to go and I drank it for the next 24 hours. :D

my john

There was a massive traffic jam going back coz of all the people rushing back to break fast so we ended up eating the Roti John in the car in anticipation of the long drive.

feast

We had a veritable feast when we got back! My dear promptly got food poisoning though and had to sit on the toilet a couple of hours after that. I was fine though, it’s the luck of the draw I guess, some of the food has been sitting there for hours.

huge cendol

Pasar Ramadan Stadium Shah Alam is very congested starting from 6 pm onwards and it opens at 3-4 pm. I still love going there though – it’s always very interesting to get different dishes to go at the food bazaar to eat at home. I spent a lot there coz I didn’t realize how the little things would all add up!

whole grilled lamb

There are no seating arrangements and people don’t eat there coz it’s still fasting time but there’s such a lot of delicious things on offer that you’re bound to get more than you can eat. :)

Payung Cafe revisited with CNY cakes

payung cafe

I was out with Arthur last night – planned to go to this Indonesian and Indian restaurant but unfortunately it was closed. It seems to be closed every time we want to go. Haha. Anyway, the second option was Payung Cafe in Sibu.

arthur

We both like this place for the ambiance – I’ve been there when Payung Cafe opened and it has gotten even better since then. Arthur knows the owners very well and their food is always consistently good.

Durian Shake (RM 8)

durian shake

This is made with durians and you can have the ice cream version too. The waiter kindly asked me if I wanted more durians in it. Of course I said yes and the result is:

durians

They use cooked durian flesh for this and after the addition of more it tastes better than any durian shakes I’ve ever had. The taste is so strong it qualifies as a dessert. :D

Bumbung Soda (RM 5)

bumbung soda

I loved Arthur’s reaction when he drank this one – he gave an involuntary shudder and said it was way too sour. Haha! It’s made with several different fruits, cucumber among them. Bumbung literally means “roof” so it’s apt that Arthur hit the roof (in a way) after sipping it.

Garlic Bread ( RM 8)

garlic bread

This is a great appetizer – the garlic bread is fresh and goes very well with the chicken dip that’s served on the side. The chicken has bits of meat inside and it’s creamy and a perfect match for the warm garlic bread.

Bangladesh Curry Lamb (RM 17)

I had this before and I quite liked it. It’s Arthur’s order and they’re quite generous with the portions, probably coz of what he commented last time. ;)

bangladesh lamb curry

There’s a huge chunk of lamb inside too, it takes a concerted effort to pry it apart but I like lamb meat with lots of tendons.

Assam Chicken (RM 16)

assam chicken

This is what I opted for – it’s not too bad, tastes a little bit like the belimbing prawn pasta but that’s where the similarities end. I thought it was okay too but then I was quite hungry at this point.

Otak-otak (RM 12)

otak otak

They make this in-house every day and it’s spicy as hell. Lovely stuff though, a must-order if you’re in Payung.

Chinese New Year fruit cake (RM 75 per loaf)

cny fruit cake

They gave this free of charge to us – it’s quite tasty, and different from the dry and tough as nails fruitcakes that you can use to clobber people and kidnap them. Payung Cafe’s CNY fruit cake is steamed and it’s soft and moist. Different, but I though it was nice.

hb arthur payung

It’s an awesome dinner as always, good company and great times! :D

Black Thorn durians – more expensive than Musang King!

black thorn durians

I just came back from a Black Thorn durian session with Poey. I’ve been eagerly awaiting to taste this particular durian since I inquired about it. It’s much more expensive than Musang King (currently going for an average of RM 22 / kg), which is an overrated culvitar IMHO.

new black thorn durian

It’s not easy to get either. I dropped by several times and the only stall that sells it says they don’t have stock and I finally got the guy’s number so I can call and check if they have it before I drive over.

black thorn durian

The banner advertising the Black Thorn durian says that it won some kind of award in 2012, which is probably their justification for the high price. The Chinese words seem to translate literally – hei tze (black thorn).

black thorn size

The NEW Black Thorn durian goes for RM 30 / kg. The price didn’t budge until I asked the dude if I can get a lowered price if I come today. He offered it at RM 25 / kg.

durian black thorn

Note that only three (3) durians in the topmost row in the display picture are Black Thorn, the others are just chucked there. The interesting thing I noticed about Black Thorn durian is that it has a flat bottom, much like Musang King:

how to tell black thorn durian

There are no thorns at the end of the durian (opposite from the stalk). This particular durian cultivar originates from Penang and another interesting quality that distinguishes it besides the flat bottom is the presence of a longkang (drain) like Teka durians, except this looks more…er, anatomical in nature. smirk

black thorn characteristics

Black Thorn pretty much tastes like advertised – the durian flesh is a bright hue of orange, a color some people like and feel is more palatable. It starts out sweet and has a bitter end note, like XO durians – just as intense but not quite so long lasting. It’s creamy and sticky – the flesh comes off the seed well.

poey hb

It also has little to no fiber, which is a plus point…it makes the durian coat the palate easily and overwhelm it it does – this is a very rich durian, make no mistake about it.

hei chi durians

It’s a medium to large sized durian (ours is almost 3 kg) and the others are pretty much in the same weight league. It was sold for RM 65 for this 2.6 kg durian.

black thorn durian flesh

However, there are abundant seeds inside – counted 14 seeds and despite having medium seeds (I don’t call that small seeds, misleading advertising) it does have a lot of flesh on it – quality flesh to boot.

hb black thorn

I’ll rate this as a not very complex durian flavor wise but it’s a good, rich and satisfying one. It’s the *KING* of the King of Fruits, price-wise at least. I wouldn’t say it’s worth the price though, but definitely a must try for all durian fans. :D

Durian Degustation – 5 great late season durians!

1. D160 / Teka / Green Bamboo

durian teka

This is a rather distinctive durian that is easily identifiable from the “longkang” (drain) running down the middle of the fruit. It was purchased for RM 15 / kg and the fruits are normally medium sized. This particular durian weighs 2.1 kg – about the average for this cultivar, making it over RM 30.

green bamboo durian

There are only 10 seeds in the durian, which translates to about RM 3 per seed. The seeds are tooth shaped – these come from Pahang and there are regional differences when planted in different locations.

teka durian

The Teka in the market now are delicious sweet to bittersweet specimens, but rather expensive – the original listed price is RM 18 / kg. It does have a very high flesh to seed ratio though.

2. Udang Merah / Red Prawn / Ang Heh

ang heh pahang

Look at the unique shape of the durian! It’s a star-shaped durian with 5 sides like a durian I came across not too long ago. These are not the original Balik Papan, Penang Red Prawn durians but cultivars that has been transplanted in…Pahang.

pahang udang merah

It’s where we get most of our durians here. The flesh is orange to reddish, the distinctive color that gives the durian it’s name.

red prawn pahang

I got it at a great time – RM 11 / kg and it’s absolutely fabulous with tiny seeds. These Pahang Ang Heh really tastes good but the drops are irregular so it’s hard to come by.

red prawn pahang durians

I’ve only had it three times this season.

3. Mas Selangor

mas selangor durian

This is a popular durian – sweet and creamy. The 1.6 kg fruit we chose is sold at RM 14 / kg. There’s only five (5) seeds inside so that works out to about RM 4.50 per seed.

mas selangor

It’s not a durian with a very complex flavor profile.

durian mas selangor

I reckon the Mas Selangor breed is more for the times when you just want a classic, fleshy, sweet durian. :)

4. D163 / Holo / Hor Lor

holo durian

This is named after a gourd – the words “hor lor” actually means water gourd. It’s a Northern durian but the ones we get are from Pahang. It’s listed as RM 15 / kg but managed to get it at RM 14 / kg. It’s also a medium sized fruit, got a 2kg + durian for RM 33.

horlor durian

Holo is great for those people who likes a dry, bittersweet, creamy and sticky durian with medium seeds that coats the palate and tongue like nothing else. Highly recommended.

5. Kan Yao (D158)

durian kan yao

This is an absolute bargain at RM 6 / kg. I had a 2.1 kg fruit for just RM 12. The Kan Yao we get here is also from Pahang and it’s bitter to bittersweet, just the way I like it.

kanyao durian

The seeds are large but with the low price it’s a good buy, and the season has just about ended so if you see any, I’ll go for it. :D

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