Friday, 30 August 2013

North South East West ... Where's the Best? Part Two


As recommended by my good friend Trevor, I have travelled to the West, to seek out a reliable and honest seller, who has been plying the trade there when I was in primary school, 1986 to be exact.



He is affectionately know by the neighbourhood residents as Botak, his trademark shine that greets you the way the smell of the durians greeted me.

Mr Kho aka Botak Kho, is a man of small statue. Small he maybe but definitely a calm and collected bespectacled guy.

He gives one an impression that action speaks louder than words, unassumingly he is busy ponking the durians for the throbs of customers. (Ponking here refers to the action of his Durian knife smacking away the durians to determine the preferences. Learnt something from him when I was there).





Mr Kho hails from the Queens Garden in Johor many many umpteen moons ago, 360 moons to be exact. He started off working as a Durian Assistant at Katong Shopping Center vicinity, then became the Head Honcho of his own Durian Stall.



Unfortunately,  a fire broke out and all was lost. But that did not stop him from plying his trade for the next 27 years in Bukit Batok.
He used to be selling in front of this Fruit Stall called Ming Gang, which was own by his brother. Subsequently, the Fruit Stall shifted while Mr Kho, remained ever since. Today it is taken by a bakery named Bakery Express. Now he can be found at Blk 164, #01-150 Bukit Batok St. 11. (right in front of this Bakery, near to the Hawker Center).

It was such an honour for me to have known that Mr Kho, who normally shies away from Media coverage, has reluctantly agreed to be photograph by me. This is amidst of much cajoling from my friend Trevor. He told me he has been trying to get him be photographed for many years but Mr Kho was just too shy.

As the season currently is offering MSW and D24, I have requested for 1 of each to try. My usual routine, to identify how the Seller chooses the Durians. In these days, unlike the past, where most of the durians sold are usually selected by the Sellers.


Not sure if you do notice the trend 20years ago, it is a norm to have more people crowding around the front of the store to pick their own durian and people will share, smell and scrutinize the durian like their lives depend on it. 

Some of the reason for the change would be, the business model has evolved, and it has become more efficient for the sellers to choose on behalf of the buyers. This is good and bad. Good because it is now faster to buy durians. Bad means we essentially begins to lose our skills in choosing the best durian there is on our own, and has a heavy reliance on the sellers to do the job for us.

Anyway, that was just a thought that flashes across my mind. To me, it would be definitely useful o know how to pick the best ones based on the observation of the durian via your 6 sensories. (hear, see, smell, touch, taste and instinct)

The latest business model is now based Trust. How much rapport you can build with the seller is how much the percentage of yield you can get back from the 'Harvesting' at the stall. The more time you spend buying from the same seller, does yield a correlated experience of an upward curve towards a win-win situations. Which then translates to savings into your pocket.

The seller would also love selling to regulars because he is familiar with your taste preferences and you will also reduce the need to repeat yourself that many times. Jus like how Trevor had been doing for the past 7 years. All he need was to call to reserve the quantity he desired, walk in to pay and collect, literally that all he needs to do.

How is it that this Mr Kho was kept as a secret for that many years and yet many more did not discover this Gem, I also do not know. He only told me that he likes this neighbourhood and the neighbourhood is tolerant to have him around. 95% of his customers are all repeat customers. Strange but great, he sells by the baskets of durians, without any form of advertisement, since he started selling durians.

Back to my orders, he asked what are my preferences and he proceed to pick the durians and ponk ponk ponk, flip and toss, and start hacking away. "Hey Mr Kho, Wait. wait. wait.... I would like to know how you know which ones are the bitter and which are sweet?" because I saw him choosing the durians without sniffing.

He briefly shared with me, that it is possible to choose durians without sniffing and still get the Bitter or Sweet. Great, it is time for me to learn new stuff. hehehe.

Ponk Ponk Ponk was all I learned. That's the key. Yes, you have heard me right. How?

The sound that echoes through your hand that holds the durian holds the key to identify the Durian's texture. Closely related to the taste, the Rule of Thumb is: Wet = Bitter; Dry = Sweet.

Ah... finally after all these years, I have learnt some inner secrets of the trade, such knowledge was what money can't buy. Mr Kho was generous enough to have shared this with me, and casually tells me. Master this, you will master the trade. Hehehe...I got more than what I came for. Have you?

 Oh... By the way if you were wondering why I would post the pic on the cellaphane wrapped styro boxes of durians? Here is another discovery! It is the only store I have come across island wide, so far, that sellers the Real McCoy at such affordable prices that I can't believe my own eyes.

They were packed right in front of me by Lat Kui, the assistant helping Mr Kho. No hidden agenda at all, what I understood from him is that all thses MSW and D24 that are packed and sold, are actually those durians where Mr Kho opens up and finds them the quality level does not meet his mark.

That's all to it, it is still very edible and good durians. See for yourself. The pricing is just unbelievable. I should have found this stall moons ago! The verdict of my durians that I have asked for? Beyond the yummy words one could describe, the MSW and D24 was indeed very fresh and the quality is of excellent grade! Definitely THE Stall in the West to go for. By the way, Mr Kho is also known for his Ganghai. (which is now not in season).



Do check him out. Call 8156 2247, mentioned that you are Ang Mo Kia's friend and he will know you have been referred by me. Thank you for reading. Have a nice day! Thank you to Trevor a fellow Durian Enthusiast like myself for such a great find!













Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Life of a B-Grader

Life of the B-Graders
It has been 20 revolutionary years since the Mao Shan Wang (locally known in Singapore) has been officially knighted with a D197, and it broke into prominent of the Durian Fraternity in 1993. Little people has known it as Mao Shan Wang back in those days, as it was called many names before it became Mao Shan Wang.


Kidnapped Kittens

The locals originally call it Durian Kunyit (which in local languages means Tumeric), plainly because of it bright yellow coloured flesh. Also, many have claimed that the birthplace of this cultivar has came from Gua Musang, that gave its popular English name Musang King in Malaysia. However, true to its birth origin, is actually much closer to the Thai Border at a place call Tanah Merah in Kelantan. (This is actually validated by a friend named Trevor).


Yellow as Tumeric, Good as Gold!

But it was at Gua Musang that people started taking notice of it commercially and it fame spread wide and far, since then it never turn back. When other town/states folks came acquiring on the Durian Kunyit, the Hantu Durian (Durian Enthusiast) would passionately telling them it is the King that they are looking for. Over time, it became Musang King. 

Well, see we all know about MSW, so what's the big deal?

Hmmm, maybe you would have heard of our local sellers being telling you about the A-Grade and B-Grade MSW? No?
 
There are a few version to it. 
1) B-Grade = Fake MSW
2) B-Grade = Small MSW
3) B-Grade = Kiao Ku MSW




 
The above B-Grades are all linked to lower prices. While an A-Grade will cost you an arm and leg, a B-Grader is about half the price. Like it or not, that's just how it goes. Anyway, its up to you to believe what they say.

So what's a B-Grader then? According to my friend Trevor, it is a few reason why the B-Graders are what they are:
1) Lack of Water thus the Kidney shape
2) Young Trees
3) Adverse Soil Conditions
4) Bruised Thorns
5) Blackened Seeds


However, with the pictures of the Kidnapped kittens above, Trevor told me these are not even a C Class Durian... lol.

Then what is mini-MSW you might ask, since this is another name which you will come across frequently? Well, it is all the A-Grader that is sub-1kg MSW.

Personally these are totally enjoyable. Reason being, I have a biasness towards 1-Bedder Durians :). It just gives you a complete flavour of the MSW, end to end, as you slide the MSW across your tongue, you can feel the Palates getting excited to meet it eagerly.

After it passes, there is always this trails of sweet aromatic fragrance that lingers on your tongue.... Mmmmm

Look out for the next episode on: MSW and its interesting Brother WZW!

Friday, 26 July 2013

North South East West ... Where's the Best? Part One

Since it is the time of the year where somehow you were supposed to go home to eat dinner with your loved ones and suddenly there is this impending urge that tells you otherwise.

Somehow there's this little voice in your head that smoothly whispers into your ears and says it's only gonna take you 5mins to get there.

Somewhere along the routes on the way home you bound to catch a glimpse of that Prickly thing sitting very lonely in the corner and makes you just wanted to go forth and say Hi.

if you do detect that subconsciously you do display any of the above syndrome, you are confirmed to be a Durian Addict in the making!

Well fret not, at least I can assure you are not alone :)

I shall share with you some places that can curb your urge and your will never be too far away from it always. As part of the Phase One of the Prickly Sensations Durian Connect, I will share with you where I go for my Durian Fixes.

South: Where to get heart-warming durians when u need one?
Guan Hin Durian (55 Tiong Bahru Road, Tel: 62234868,Mdm Tan)

Guan Hin Durians - (Photo credits to Tiong Bahru Estate)



















What's interesting about Guan Hin you might say? Well, nothing really stands out in terms of Price or Quality of the Durians (dun get me wrong, they are still serving good quality durians and they are not of  the Geylang Clans), they really stands out just by being normal.

Yes, being very casually normal I must say. Just like how we used to go into a Kek-I (Provision Shop) in the 70s or 80s. You get the sense of belonging like how's life is like in a Kampong. Open House concept, feel free to browse and take the stuff and pay, sometimes can don't even pay.

Yes that's right. I did mention Provision Shop. Now what has that got to do with the Durians you might ponder?

Well, Chop Guan Hin just happen to be the oldest Provision Shop in the Tiong Bahru Estate, how about that! How old? Well, they started way back in the year that Hock Lee Bus Riot was the Talk of the Year! (1955). The old couples do not man the provision shop front, the people who patronised the store just take the stuff and leave the money on the counter. Self service with the plastic bags, take and go. Simple life. Open hearted

This old couple is very pleasant and down to earth and if you spend sometime there you will find it is such a joy just to be around them, nothing fanciful, they are not loud, just very simple folks. Their Provision Shop has become a used to be, why used to be?

Yes, it has been closed ever since Tiong Bahru Bakery came to town. :(
But they still sells the Heartwarming Durians. (Main stay Durians: MSW, Jin Feng, Ang Hei, D13, occasionally they bring in Milk Bottle. Milk Bottle? Is it a new Cultivar? No, just that to Mdm Tan that's what Green Bamboo used to be known.)

Well, do remember to drop by to say Hi to them whenever you are in that area. Just say that you are friends of Mr Lim if she ask. :)

Have a Nice Day

Regards,
PS


French Connections! Timber Amoureux de Durian!

Hi All, Prickly is back :) It's been a while since I pen some of the Durian Mania moments I had. Thought I would like to share some international affairs with a French lady at the end of the previous season to spice things up for the upcoming Durian Fieasta! PS meet up with this lovely lady who told me by stem or by thorns, find her some durians! Ha! She was adamant and determined to share Singapore's love of Durians to people in France and was writing articles on this website (http://www.singabuzz.sg/durian-what-else/) that reaches out to youngster from France who loves to travel to Singapore.



Pauline wanted the full package so Prickly showed her the Sniff, the Shake and the Pat on the Durian. it is her first, sort of, but nevertheless she exceled in flying colours! Well as it was end of season then there weren't much durians available so in case what durian is she having? Well its called the Pangmani (Thai Cultivar) often been mistaken as a MSW. Hopefully PS will get to show you the part Two of the French Romance in the coming season with the rest of the French Ladies :)

Friday, 5 April 2013

World Most Expensive ...Durian!

 
Recently, I have been seeing food news about the World Most Expensive Fresh Water Fish call Wild Empurau (Indo Mahseer), costing customers anything in the range of SGD300-400 per kg.



















Then sometime back, we have heard about the World Most Expensive Coffee, Kopi Luwak or the Asian Palm Civet-Cat-Pooed Coffee. Ranging from SGD300-SGD600 per kg.



This record was broken by the dung coffee from the world largest land Mammal, the Asian Elephant, Thai Elephant to be exact.

The specialty brew of Thai Arabica cost USD700-1100 per kg. This came about when a Canadian Coffee Expert Blake Dinkin discovered that the Elephant has a natural Roaster which can break down the protein enzyme of the Arabica, making it bitter-less and smooth. This coffee is currently available only at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort, Maldives and recently in Abu Dhabi at USD50 per cup.

The process of how the picker ascertain whether the coffee berries is good enough, is when they pop one into their mouth to sample. It takes about 10,000 beans to produce 1kg of roasted Black Ivory Coffee. Given this the picker must be fully appreciative of the Elephant's diet. :)

Coffee beans picked from elephant dung. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)


Not to be beaten, the Civet cat fought back and found themselves an UpMart place to sell their Pooed-Coffee. Founder Charles Henry Harrod would be kicking in the grave if he knew this is happening to Harrods Branding, that now their are selling Packaged Pooed Coffee.

The most expensive range comes from Harrods's Terra Nera ‘Kopi Luwak’ in a 24-carat- Gold Plated sachet, available from price range starting from USD 225 to USD10,910.

World's most expensive Kopi Luwak Coffee now on sale at Harrods

But the World Most Expensive Food item is still the undisputed White Alba Truffles at USD330,000 for 3.3 pounds, own by HK Billionaire Stanley Ho. Incidentally the Truffles was discovered when female pigs dig the earth underneath the Oak Trees in Piedmont, Italy, looking for scent of the male pig’s sex pheromones.

World’s most expensive truffle

Now after telling you so much about Fish, Coffee and Truffles, it is time to share with you the World Most Expensive Durian is .... not your Musang King or Black Thorn or any other cultivars.

The Durian Urban Legend has it that long long time ago, Durians were the favorite Fruit for the Kingdom of Animals: the primates, the big cats, Rhinoceros, Tapirs, wild boar, pigs, snakes, scorpions, squirrels, and of course the Elephants.

Frugivorus animals are reported to love Durians. According to the Thai maxim:
“First, the elephant shakes the tree to bring down the fruit. After the elephant noses open the fruit with its tusks, the tiger fights him for the fruit. Rhinoceros, wild pig, tapir, deer, monkey, ant, and beetle follow the tiger. Humans must be very quick to get the Durian”.

Everyone loves the durians. Each has their own ways of eating the Durians.

Squirrels loevs to eat the furit while it is hanging on the branch. Dun believe?




Orangutans use tools such as sticks to help knock durians from the trees. They make leaf gloves to protect themselves when consuming prickly foods. Once open, the Orangutans will discard the skin, eat the flesh, and spit out the seeds, acting as major seed dispersers for this fruit.

While a Tapir would spat out the durian seeds after eating the flesh, thereafter helping to propagate the seeds throughout the jungle.

It has been said that Tigers would press open the durians with their weight and paws top down and lick off the flesh of the Durians totally clean and amazingly place the seeds near into the husk.
Not sure why though.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz7_ceRnLZE&feature=player_embedded

Tiger video - Panthera tigris - su08b - ARKive

Nothing beats the largest fellow in the Jungle: Elephants

They swallow the whole durian into their stomach! Seriously, how is that possible?

It is said that the Elephant, would roll the wild durians with leaves until it is like a cotton ball then eating it whole. And that's not the end of it, they pooed out the whole fruit too.

Although many reports mentioned that because the Elephant is an inefficient digester of food, therefore the durian was expelled.

 I choose to believe otherwise. More so it is their way of cleansing their digestive tract. The prickly fruit actually helps to pick out those stuff that has been in the stomach and brings it out together. like sometimes the cats n dogs would go to a plan by the roadside and ingest to expel the indigestible foods. likewise, the durians are used in this manner,

By chance, the Orang Asli (natives of the Jungle) saw his and pick it up. Having seen the durian is in tact, thus opening it up and enjoy the goodness.

Now, it may be true that the Elephant's gigantic stomach does break down the protein enzymes to rid of the bitterness in coffee. But what about Durians?

Well according to a report in 2010, a group of aphrodisiac driven timber tycoons in Johor, this type of Elephant Dung Durians are the real natural Viagra. And it is so difficult to obtain one, the price of the durian is set at SGD400 a piece, making it the most expensive Durian. The Orang Asli would track and follow the elephant after it has eaten the durian, for up to 4 hours, they will wait patiently for it to be out process.  Then collect and sell to these hard core durian lovers.

Prioir to this report, Elephant Dung Durians are not new, these are common in the areas of Sumatra Peninsula, Borneo, Thailand and even Vietnam, way back in the 70s. back then the durians were sold for SGD25 a piece, which was also known as Elephant Ganja.
 

Here is the Elephant Dung Durian. Wonder how good it taste.
*

Shall we go for any expedition to look for the Elephant Dung Durian?

Have a nice day,
PS.


Monday, 25 March 2013

Tikam Durians


I was walking through the Pasar Malam aimlessly and somehow I  stopped at the Durian Stall. There were several displayed at the stall but none caught my eyes.
The Durian Uncle was trying his very best to make me buy the Styrofoam box packed with "Mao Shan Wang", although it was a super wet D13 screaming at me. Next he eagerly tries to sell me D13 as Ang Hei. God knows why.

I decided to walk away when I caught a glimpse of a pile of small durians. Immediately the thoughts of random choosing of durians, flashes across the mind. Hack.
I ask the Uncle: "How much for these?" pointing to the pile of Small Durians.
 
He happily replied " 4 for S$10". I was about to walk and he says again :"Okay Okay 5 for S$10 and no more, like that how to earn?"
 
I silently take a quick look to assess whether the durians are do-able. Then i retorted politely: " Uncle, these durians are from Yishun Forest, still need to charge money meh?".
 
The Uncle was shocked by that statement and quickly changed topic asking me to buy his other fruits in quick succession. I knew it, this fellow just now says all this are Segamat durians, but actually, I think it is some Durian Hunters who sold him the durians.
 
I quickly took 5 and started taking Photos of it. Then his Partner came and asked why am i taking Photos. I happily replied that it reminded me of my childhood when my father brought me along to buy durians. In my heart, I was thinking, they must be thinking I am from NEA checking on them.
 

 
  I looked forward to my mini-Kampong Durian Degustation in anticipation, so much so that i did not eat much for dinner. 
 





 
 

 The D24
 
 
 
 
 
 
 The Tawa
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The XO 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
















The Delectable Experience in opening up the durians was a Dejavu to me. The flavors that hit my taste buds were so full of character! It was one moment a Plain Jane, and next moment a Cassius Clay. Punching me with all the alcoholic contents. I was lucky to get the Xo, D24 and a bit of Tawa from the little 5s as I would call them. The other two i had is a tad bland. however that is what i love most of a Tikam Durian, you can never anticipate what's next! 
 
Job done, game over!

 

 The durians did not disappoint at all!
 
Parting Shot
Looking at the picture of tissues would have told you what an Orgasmic Experience I had earlier on, the only time when u can rave in the waves of sensations with each aril. My mouth and tongue has not been working so hard for a long long time.
Nevertheless, the efforts to finished up that 50plus Arils in 2 hours were well worth it.