- Durian Culture in Singapore
- Durian Season in Singapore
- Durians in Singapore – Types and their Tastes
- Durians in Singapore – how much do they cost?
- Best Durian in Singapore
Looking for the best durian in Singapore? That golden nuggets of unmistakable fragrance and exquisite taste. It is Southeast-Asia’s king of fruit – a local’s treasure and another’s repugnance. You either crave for it or carry your nose away.
Yes, it’s our one and only — the durian.
Durian Culture in Singapore
Many people in Singapore eat durians; (most) locals have an innate taste for it while newcomers have an acquired taste for it. Some of us, me included, would be a tad more crazy – okay, obsessed – with the king of fruit.
So we would try to have as many as our wallets and creativity can afford – anywhere we can, anytime there are durians, and in any way possible. This means in Singapore, you will find durians in every corner because we have invented numerous ways to continue enjoying durians for a very long time.
Seems like an airy boast, given the durian’s unique notes. Well, it’s not.
We infused durians into our traditional treats – the durian bean curd tart and durian sandwich (Le Cafe Confectionery and Pastry), the durian salat (Chalk Farm), durian ang ku kueh (Ji Xiang Confectionery), durian tapioca cake (Durian History) and durian yam sago (Ah Chew Desserts).
We also have durian in our favourite western pastries – durian puffs, durian souffles, durian macarons, durian cakes, durian croissants, durian burnt cheesecake and durian creme brulee.
And since Singapore is a multi-racial nation, we also have durian in the locally popular international foods – durian daifuku (Japanese mochi), durian sticky rice (a rendition of Thailand’s mango sticky rice) and durian bingsu (a rendition of Korean’s shaved ice).
Then, of course, we have durian in our local favourite delights – durian ice cream and durian sticky rice roll (Ji De Chi).
Just when you think it is the end, we have more creations in the savoury department – the fried durian. To quench the insatiable thirst of durian lovers, there is also the durian high tea buffet and durian buffet.
Have I convinced you of Singapore’s immense love for durian?
Durian Season in Singapore
It seems that durians are plentiful in Singapore all year round so we can have daily doses of the king of fruit. We wish!
Singapore’s leading supplier of durians is Malaysia; we receive our stock mostly from plantations in Johor, Pahang and Penang. Since only the durians decide when they leave the trees, the ‘big drop’ happens at specific periods of the year; in Singapore, we call these periods the ‘durian season’.
Based on years of statistics, we can assume that the primary durian season starts in April till September every year. This is the time of a wealthy supply of the popular breeds of durians. August is the month of the highest supply of these popular breeds (we usually call them the premium durians, which will be shared later). Hence you can buy them at the cheapest rates.
Should you have cravings for durians outside the main season, fret not – they are still available between the middle of October to January of the following year; the supply is less hence the durians would be more expensive.
How can you tell that the primary durian season has arrived in Singapore? When you notice the number of durians in fruit stalls increase exponentially overnight. Some Singaporean durian lovers even said, “The cheapest of durians would usually come around the time of (our) national day celebration. Celebrate with durian ah!”
Durians in Singapore – Types and their Tastes
Some of us prefer our durians to be sweet as hell, so we go for the ones smelling like green leaves; some of us appreciate the bittersweet of life and head for the durians with bitter notes; some enjoy getting hands messy while devouring the fruit and go for the durians with softer and wetter flesh; some likes to keep the stains off and take the ones with a drier texture.
Hence there is no telling which durian is the best – it is entirely subjective.
There are about 16 types of durians currently available in the Singapore’s market – with new breeds popping out once in a while. So there are multiple grades of the same type of durians – the feed is never ending.
Mao Shan Wang (also known as Musang King, Butter durian or Raja Kunyit)
By far the king of the kings, and hasn’t been dethroned yet since it took over D24. Its flesh is thick, in golden yellow and undresses neatly from its small seed at the first tear. It has a good balance of creamy sweetness and fresh bitterness.
A special grade of this durian is called Black Gold, named after the black-resembling greyish green veins within its golden yellow colour flesh. It has a more complex taste with stronger bitter notes, and they are more pricey than MSW. A recommendation for bitter-loving durian eaters.
D24 (or Sultan King)
90s’s king of the kings. Still running fiercely, its pale yellow flesh is equally thick and has a creamy sweet taste. Though less substantial than MSW in flavour, its consistent sweetness delivers and makes you crave for more.
Some say this is actually D24; others identified it as a different grade of D24. Nonetheless, XO is equally famous for its unique alcohol-resembling bitter notes – hence its name. Its flesh has a paler shade of yellow and a soft – almost soggy – texture.
This durian is comparable to Mao Shan Wang (MSW) in the taste department – it has a good balance of bitter and sweet notes. Its bright yellow custardy flesh is thick and paste-like. It carries a distinctive sweet floral scent and a lighter taste, and it is a cheaper alternative.
Black Thorn (D200)
Said to rival the king’s, this durian has a more profound sweetness and a more palatable bitter notes. It has been fetching better prices due to its rarity. Its flesh has a recognisable yellow shade of orangey-red and an almost fiberless texture. It is as meaty despite having bigger seeds.
Red Prawn (or Udang Merah, or Ang Hay)
The flesh is creamy, lightly sweetened and wet. One of the harder ones to open, this durian is usually big with small seeds. By its name, the flesh is more red than orange. It could be quite easy to go wrong with this durian – when overripe, it is bitter.
Green Bamboo (or Tekka, or Tracka)
Commonly described as the queen of fruits and the next in the line by its consistent quality and lovely texture. Like MSW, its bitter notes are not overpowering. Its flesh is smooth with a unique colour of pale yellow and green-resembling hues of grey. It also has a distinctive pungent fragrance.
Golden Phoenix (or Jin Feng)
This durian can be easily misunderstood – its very fluid flesh seems spoiled, but it is actually not. It looks milky, being pale yellow and white, and tastes bittersweet. It is very ‘meaty’ with tiny seeds, so it is a top favourite for those who like their durians ‘cheap and have lots of flesh’.
You didn’t misread it – this is not Black Thorn. Named after its small pearl-like seeds, it is extremely rare. It has a milky taste that is light and more bitter than sweet. Its creamy flesh takes on a duller shade of pale yellow.
This durian is a family favourite, and can be called ‘a kampung breed’. It is the one to take if this is your first go at durians. It comes in an abundance of flesh that slides neatly off its small seeds. Its flesh is pale yellow and tastes milky with a very light sweetness. Its meat has a slight crunch at every bite.
Tawa (or D162)
A rather low profile durian, it has an abundance of flesh and is relatively cheap. Its creamy flesh is lightly sweetened with a mild bitter taste, so it is another option for a virgin durian experience. It can be identified with its ivory-white coloured flesh.
It can be easily mistaken as Red Prawn and sold as it is, but it has a more in-depth and duller orange than red. Its flesh is less fibrous and very light in sweetness—another good choice for the first time triers of durians.
Hor Lor (or D163)
The Hokkien word for ‘gourd’, this rare durian has fruits of a gourd-resembling shape. Its flesh is relatively fibrous and dry – drier than most durians – and is bright yellow almost similar to Tekka’s shade. There is a fair amount of meat despite its big seeds, and it tastes somewhat like avocados, only sweeter and with a little of bitter notes.
Another good alternative for newcomers, this durian has fruits the size of a turkey drumstick. Its humongous amount of fibrous flesh is relatively solid but still gooey, and it is less pungent. It is sweet and has the alcohol-resembling bitter notes that linger on your tongue.
This durian has a more pleasing fragrance that doesn’t strangle your nose. Smaller than most durians, it also pales in comparison in the looks department – it is wrinkled and in the palest of yellow – almost eggshell white. Despite its lacklustre looks, its gelato-like sweet and slightly bitter flesh is delightful.
Durians in Singapore – how much do they cost?
The prices of durians depend on their breed and grade, and the time of the year.
Generally, durians in Singapore are sold either in the whole fruit or have its flesh removed and packed in a box.
For the whole fruit, it would be helpful to get a price by the kg. The range of costs of the more popular breeds is typically from $22 to $69 per kg, while the less popular ones are from $12 to $18 per kg.
If you prefer not to stress your brain and brawn, you could go for the boxed up durian flesh. One box can weigh from 500g to 800g depending on the durian’s natural assets; and typically, a box of durian can cost between $25 to $56.
Best Durian in Singapore
Here is a review of 7 honourable durian sellers in Singapore who promise quality durian experience.
60 years in the business, this durian seller had been visited by famous people like actor Chow Yun Fatt. You could visit their stall and enjoy their durians fresh.
Or you could order a delivery. They would remove all the durian flesh/seeds from its shell, pack them into boxes, seal properly and immediately fridge them for delivery the following day. They usually deliver between 1pm to 5pm daily.
Despite being stored overnight, the durians do taste as fresh. They also provide good customer service and replace a spoiled batch without additional charges, should you happen to get one.
Their minimum order for free delivery is $150.
|Address||249 Balestier Road, Singapore 329708|
99 Old Trees Durian
Very popular among durian lovers, especially the hippier crowd, this Serangoon durian seller is not the usual fruit stall uncle – but two young entrepreneurs, who have been in the business since 2017. On top of the standard services, they also offer Omakase durian – called “Suka wa” – at their durian bar. Their customer service has high ratings since they started.
Unless you eat at their store, you would usually have durians from a box that has a special plastic seal to keep the freshness in the durian flesh until it reaches your mouth.
Many durian lovers trust their delivery service. Orders before 3pm can be delivered on the same day; orders after 3pm will be delivered the following day. They deliver islandwide, between 7pm to 10pm, at a fixed price of $5.90 so they do not have a minimum order.
|Address||46 Owen Road, #01-277 Singapore 210046|
Ah Seng Durian
Bloomed from the family’s provision shop selling ‘kampung durians’ (a term for cheap meaty durians) to the neighbourhood, this durian seller has been in the business for more than 40 years, and he continues to go above and beyond to ensure top quality durians for his customers. To date, his durian store is the largest in Singapore, providing a wide range of durians.
For a seamless transaction, it is best to pre-order via the channels stated in their website (note that other sources may lead you to unpleasantries). They are swift, always on the alert to rectify a bad experience, if there was any.
Their packed durians are available for self-collection at their Ghim Moh store from 5pm to 8pm or delivery. They deliver daily between 3pm to 7pm at a fee of $10.
This Punggol durian seller believes that durians are best experienced in the comforts of home, so their transactions are online, and they deliver most of their durians, packed and well-sealed in boxes. They still do walk-ins and self-collection.
Ordering durians online is usually worrisome; you might end up paying for bad durians, and it would be difficult to get a refund. This durian seller is here to prove everyone wrong, and their customers have been increasing. Though removed from their shells, the durian flesh maintained their freshness and every box would come in adequate amounts. The friendly delivery staff also give good service and support.
Their delivery service is a flat fee of $8, which is waived for purchases more than $100.
|Address||Punggol Plaza, 168 Punggol Field, Basement 1 Atrium, 820168|
Ah Di Dempsey Durian
Located at a carpark on Dempsey Hill, this durian seller, also known as Wan Li Xiang, has been in the business for 30 years, providing premium durians to a large clientele. He even takes reservations for these regular customers.
His customers are mostly walk-ins but he still takes orders over the phone – although, you would have to liaise directly with the delivery man – his contact provided by the durian seller – and pay a flat fee of $10. The delivered durians would arrive packed and sealed appropriately in boxes.
The quality of durians is good but inconsistent – some of his new customers had received unsatisfactory durians despite the promise of his reputation. It seems as if the good ones were reserved for his regulars.
|Address||7 Dempsey Road, Singapore 249684|
Leong Tee Fruit Traders
This Macpherson durian stall has been around for 20 years; its owner is widely known for his bright smiles and honesty – he actively checks the quality of his durians and replaces them sooner than you can say “Durian”. Customers can even open up a durian and try the flesh before paying.
His regulars trust his pick and buy without a second doubt. Should they suay-suay get a bad batch, they know they only need to inform him, and they would immediately get a new batch at no cost and hassle-free.
Leong Tee keeps up with the times – they now offer delivery service at a flat fee of $10 and deliver daily between 7pm to 10pm. Orders made before 5pm will have their durians delivered on the same day.
|Address||264 Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore 437051|
This Rangoon 88 durian seller is relatively new – a team of durian lovers who only wanted to provide ‘cheap and good’ durians to Singaporeans. They take walk-ins and orders from online or over the phone. You can even get their durians on Lazada and Qoo10.
They have mixed reviews – their inconsistent quality of durians and customer service has turned away a significant crowd. These unpleasant experiences involve impolite staff, too hard durians, too soft durians, unwarned last-minute cancellations with no amends and the lacking after-sales support. Perhaps, it would be more hopeful to walk-in instead of getting a delivery.
Their delivery service costs a pricey flat fee of $15, which would be waived for purchases more than $180.
|Address||88 Rangoon Road, #01-07 Rangoon 88, 218374|
Durians in Singapore are best served by honest sellers and best enjoyed with a good company of friends, family and fellow durian lovers. Do go with someone you trust for your maiden durian experience and don’t worry – there is sure to be one durian that suits your taste buds. Have a good durian!