It’s time for a post about durian fruit in Dallas. A Los Angeles Times article last week made me think of the fruit, which comes into peak season in June. The profile tells the story of a certain Tan Eow Chong, now the de facto Durian King, who launched his kingdom with a branch he paid a villager to shoot from a tree in a rural enclave in his native Malaysia. Here, the fruit grew sweeter, lusher, and meatier than anywhere else. The stolen graft launched a new hybrid.
“The flesh melted in my mouth,” says Tan, who decided then that he had to grow the durian himself.
So runs the description in the Times article. But let’s be clear: those silky yellow lobes inside the knubby hull come with a powerful smell. A stench, most people would say—potent as soiled diapers or sweet, rotten onions. A friend of mine, born in the Philippines, remembers his first taste of the durian his uncle brought home in Manila: sweet and complex. It’s eaten all over Southeast Asia (though in some places banned on public transportation).
Here’s where you can find it in Dallas, blended into smoothies or made into pastries. You can also find it whole, the better to throw a surprise into someone else’s day—or come through on a bet.
A smoothie at JuiceLand blends durian and greens: called the Kaleibrator, it involves coconut water, durian, spirulina, and pecans (and I find it bizarrely delicious).
The late-night Vietnamese wonderland Bistro B is a sensory-overload. A case at the counter holds a line of colorful puddings and desserts in goblets—the suspended jellies of ché and tapioca pearls in pudding-like coconut milk—and also there is durian cake, soft, moist, light yellow, and delightful. (The light durian flavor? It’s a little like soy sauce.)
At the Hong Kong-style sweets shop Mango Mango Dessert, which you should visit anyway for their totally iconic dessert soups, among other hard-to-find treats, they have durian mille crêpe cake (you’ve seen the green tea confections, layered crêpes and cream), durian pancakes, durian on/in fruit bowls, and something called a combo C, with snow white juice with durian and black rice, snow white juice with ice cream and mixed jelly, and a durian pancake. I say, durian it out, Hong Kong-style.
If you know of any places using durian in savory applications—mixed into rice dishes or made into stir fries—chime in. That would be the next frontier.