I’m not in too much of a blogging mood lately because I’ve been obsessed with working on some DIY clothing projects in my spare time. But I thought I’d quickly share this all-you-can-eat durian thing in case there are any readers in KL who really love durian.
I’m leaving Malaysia in less than a week. After over a year of being here, I’m happy to say that I’ve done mostly everything I wanted to. I’ve checked off most of my Malaysian wishlist items, including: going to Penang, Melacca, Langkawi, and Redang, going up KL tower, and trying most Malaysian dishes at least once.
But with my imminent departure looming so close, there was one more thing I still haven’t done. And it’s a biggie.
I just never got around to it. First, it’s just not a very appetizing idea. And I wouldn’t just go around eating it by myself. And even when I mentioned to friends that I want to try it, the response I’d get is “it’s not the season.”
Well guess what, finally it’s durian season right before I’m due to leave. So this past weekend, I grabbed the one person I know who loves durian more than anything in the world and asked him to take me to eat it – my local friend James.
“The only way to eat durian is at a durian buffet,” he said when I suggested it. “There’s one in SS2. All you can eat for only 30 rm.”
“Hmmm can I just buy a small pack first? What if I take one bite and hate it and waste 30 rm?”
“And what if you love it?”
There’s no way to know if you’ll like durian or not. And plus, James was prepared to eat more than 2 people’s share. So I took my chances and paid up the 30 rm (about US $7) to get my first taste of the world’s stinkiest fruit.
Soooo… what’s the big deal about durian anyway?!
In case you’ve never heard of it, durian (a tropical fruit in Southeast Asia) has the honor of being the world’s smelliest fruit. The smell is very pungent and very distinctive. I’m rubbish at trying to describe smell, but let’s just say that some people mistaken it for the sewer. Durian is not allowed on trains, buses, and anywhere else enclosed. The smell is so potent that even one fruit will stink up the entire place. It really is the worst. You get the idea, right?
But durian lovers say that what lays within the smelly pulp is the most heavenly flesh. Sweet and creamy unlike anything else. True lovers go nuts for it. But those who don’t think it’s disgusting. It’s one of those love-it or hate-it things.
After being in Malaysia for so long, I can honestly say that the smell (in open air) doesn’t bother me anymore. But will it taste like it smells?
It was time for me to find out which side I’m on.
Durian buffet at SS2 Durian House
SS2 is a neighborhood in Petaling Jaya (the suburbs of KL) that’s known for good Chinese food, bridal shops, and durian stalls. This particular one has an all-you-can-eat buffet going on. The entire tent was filled with hundreds of people happily slurping, sucking, and munching on durian.
Servers were busy hacking open the fruits and delivering them. The tables were piled high with durian seeds and carcasses, while trash cans are overflowing with more of the same. People here really loooove this smelly fruit.
We grabbed a table, and soon the durians started arriving. Durian has a hard spiky outer shell that’s quite painful to the touch. The inside has 4 compartments, each holding bulbs of the precious flesh. Each bulb has a round smooth seed in the center.
As soon as they arrived, James started sucking away at the creamy flesh. Before I even gathered up the courage to pluck out my first bulb, he already had 6-7 seeds in front of him.
James explained that durian has different types and levels. Some are sweeter while others are more bitter. Some are very creamy while others are more dry. The average ones are very mild. And high end ones are bitter to the point of almost tasting a little alcoholic, but has a strong sweet taste.
He had me start with a more mild one. I picked out the slightly slimy bulb, and with quite a bit of apprehension, took a small bite.
And it wasn’t too bad!
I mean, I didn’t think it was amazingly good either, but it was definitely not as bad as I was expecting. It didn’t taste like sewage or gym socks. The first bite was slightly bitter, but the longer you keep it in your mouth, the sweeter and sweeter it gets. And I actually quite like the creamy texture. It’s almost like custard. I seriously can’t think of one other fruit with this kind of texture.
The entire time, we had a nonstop flow of durians to our table. I had no idea how we were gonna eat them all because I knew I wouldn’t be much help. But thankfully, James brought his appetite.
The carnage on our table. And this wasn’t even half of it.
“You have a lot of durian to eat,” I told James.
In the end, I ate around 5 bulbs. It wasn’t that I was sick of it. It was more the fact that I had a big lunch beforehand so I was just waaay too full to fit anything else in my stomach.
James, on the other hand, ate about 5 whole durians on his own.
After you’re done
When we were done with the durian fest, James said that you need to drink salt water out of the durian shell in order to prevent getting sick. This was something he grew up doing. He explained the durian heats up your body, so you need to cool it down.
Certain Asian cultures have the concept of “heating foods” and “cooling foods”. Either one, if eaten too much of, can do harm to your body. Durian is a heating food, which can give you fever, make you break out, etc.
This durian stall provided drinking water and table salt, so James got some for us. He poured some salt and water into one of the empty compartments and drank from it. I’m not sure what the science of this is, but apparently this counteracts the heating properties of durian.
“Do I have to?” I asked. “Does it really work, or is it just an old wives tale?”
“Well you don’t have to. But know that the last time I went to eat durian with a group of friends, the one British girl who didn’t do this woke up the next day with a fever. And no one else got sick.”
And plus, he said, it helps you take away the durian aftertaste in your mouth.
Who am I to argue with old wives? So I took my saltwater durian cup and sipped. I managed a few sips before gagging and almost throwing up (as I find saltwater absolutely disgusting).
So in the end, it wasn’t durian that made me almost puke, but the simple act of drinking saltwater.
Final verdict: did I like it?
I didn’t hate durian, but I’m also not dying to try it again anytime soon. It’s really not as horrible as it smells, but it wasn’t amazing to me either. I actually quite like the creamy texture. And I suspect I would like it more if it were just a little sweeter.
Usually they say that you need to try it 3 times before deciding if you’re in the love-it or hate-it boat. I doubt I’d give it 3 tries though.
I’m really glad I finally got to check off this item on my list! Durian is practically Malaysia’s national fruit. And I’d say that just like nasi lemak, you can’t say you’ve experienced Malaysian food without having tried durian!
- Where: SS2 Durian House Stall
- When: I believe the buffet was from 3 pm to 7 pm, but I really don’t know if that’s only weekends
- Cost: 30 rm
What do you think? Does this make you drool or gag?
Have you had durian before and how did you like it? If not, would you try it?
I basically just word vomited this post without any editing. I hope it makes sense! If so, maybe I’ll start doing more posts like this, or I’d never get caught up. Let me know what you think!
And now back to my sewing project!