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Sep 3, 2008 03:03 PM

Durian Fruit

Has anyone read J. Steingarten's last Vogue article about Dorian fruit? Anyone gone to the place in Manhattan where you're supposed to be able to buy some? Anyone tried it? Really curious...

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  1. I believe it's durian. I see it in Chinatown often. The fruit that smells like hell and tastes like heaven. I had it for the first time in Singapore many years ago.

    3 Replies
    1. re: financialdistrictresident

      durian, in season, is pretty good. only had it in singapore. son says he likes durian ice cream. never had the ice cream.

      1. re: financialdistrictresident

        I personally love the taste. The closest description I can come up with is a super creamy, sweet, roasted garlic custard... You either love it or hate it.

        I get my durian from the largest durian stall in Chinatown. The guy there is great, he'll cut it up and box it for you, even vacum pack it so it doesn't stink on the subway. Some tips: ask for a really sweet one, and key: defrosted (frozen durians don't thaw well outside of their skin). Also, you can buy durian flavored wafer cookies in Chinese supermarkets (yum!).

        Durian stall - Grand and Bowery NW corner

        1. re: misschopsticks

          That stall almost certainly has to be the best place to go. While durian can be found all over Chinatown, the Grand/Bowery guy is constantly scooping one out for a customer -- the delicate aromas of onions and farts hanging in the air as he goes about his (very impressive) business. The fact that he'll pick a good one out for you doesn't hurt, either.

          Cong Ly, just a few blocks away, has a dessert that includes durian (as well as coconut milk, lotus seeds, tapioca, and seaweed). Minus the Vietnamese punctuation, I believe it's listed as: che thung. Worth trying for anyone who's doing some durian exploration.

      2. Haven't seen the article, but I've seen durian fruit at a number of different produce stands in Chinatown. A month or so ago I even saw a group of tourists, cameras at the ready, crowding around someone who was cutting into one. Pretty funny.

        I tried it in Indonesia. Unfortunately, the one I had wasn't sufficiently ripe. But I was able to get a sense of what it could be like at it's best. Try it. The odor really does belie the taste.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JoanN

          JoanN, it's like a creamy custard if you can get past the smell :)

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. You can find whole unopened durian in some of the fruit vendors on Mott Street. Usually the durians have been frozen before, but it doesn't affect the texture or the taste that much. You will have to buy the whole durian unless you buy the boxed ones in the freezer sections of some grocery stores (which I don't recommend at all). However, the people in the fruit store will open the durian for you if you request ( you will have to get your own box to hold the durian "lobes" /"meat")

            1 Reply
            1. re: kobetobiko

              Growing up in Davao CIty in the Philippines, durian was closely identified with the city. I still remember eating it. I remember eating it in the form of a candy, a jam, and ice cream. Imagine that durian candy bars were the size of Hershey chocolate bars. A few years ago, I was able to eat durian ice cream at Spice Market. However, it's no longer on the menu. I guess the smell was too much. They could always bring it back as long as it's eaten outside.

            2. I agree with misschopsticks et. al.: The Vietnamese vendors on the corner of Bowery and Grand, outside the Tu Qunyh Pharmacy, are very helpful if you'd like to try a durian. Many Vietnamese restaurants also prepare smoothies and shakes in many flavors, durian included, but although it has a milder odor, my friends who despise the king of fruits will wrinkle their noses when my sinh to sau rieng arrives at the table.

              To dip your toe, durian-wise, before you jump off the deep end, try the durian custard at Bonobo's Vegetarian Restaurant: