Bitter or Sweet: A Guide to Eating Durians in Singapore
Try one of the most controversial fruits in Singapore
· 5 min read
If you're a true foodie, you know that no culinary journey is complete without sampling all of the local delicacies. In Singapore, one fruit stands out as a true delicacy - the durian. Despite its notoriously strong smell, durian is an experience that every food enthusiast should have. So, buckle up and get ready for a truly unique taste of Singapore!
What is Durian?
The durian is a distinctive fruit native to Southeast Asia, recognizable for its large size, thorny husk, and strong odor. The fruit's interior consists of sweet, creamy flesh that covers large seeds. It's a controversial fruit — you either love it or hate it. It is loved for its creamy and unique taste, which some describe as akin to a rich custard highly flavored with almonds, while others find it overwhelmingly pungent and unpalatable.
Most of the durian consumed in Singapore is imported from Malaysia, and a smaller number from other countries in the region like Thailand and Indonesia.
Popular Durian Varieties in Singapore
Durian is a fruit that is loved by many in Singapore. Its pungent aroma and unique taste have made it a favorite among locals. Before we delve into where to find the best durian in Singapore, it's essential to understand the different durian varieties. Each has a unique taste, texture, and aroma. The most popular ones in Singapore are Mao Shan Wang (also known as Musang King), D24, Golden Phoenix, and Red Prawn.
Mao Shan Wang durians are the most sought-after, known for their rich, creamy texture and bittersweet flavor. D24 is favored for its subtly sweet taste and slightly firmer texture - it is a good grade durian while at a slightly cheaper price point than the Mao Shan Wang. The Golden Phoenix variety is known to be mildly sweet with a subtle bitterness, and is best known for its affordability. Lastly, Red Prawn durians are prized for their intensely sweet, creamy flesh — which could be a little too intense for someone who is new to durians.
How to Buy Durian in Singapore
Most locals will buy the durians home to have them at the comfort of their home. However, if you are traveling to Singapore, you might want to take note that durians are not allowed on public transport (trains and buses). Most hotels also do not allow consumption of durians in the room, so it is best that you check the policies of your accommodation. But don't let these restrictions stop you from enjoying durian in Singapore — most durian stalls throughout the city have seating areas and you can have the durians at the stall!
Durians are usually sold either as a whole fruit complete with the husk, or sold in packets. The charging model differs slightly - for the whole fruit, they can be priced either by the weight or by the number of durians bought. For durians that have been pre-packed, the charging model is more straightforward and you are usually charged per packet.
As a general guideline, if you are purchasing packed durians, pick the ones that look firm and avoid those that are too watery. You should also choose the ones that have a distinct yellow and not too pale. And if you are buying the entire fruit, try asking the seller to open up the durian so that you can have a look before you make your purchase!
Where to Eat Durian in Singapore
Now, let's get to the part you've been waiting for - where to enjoy this unique fruit in Singapore. One of the best places to find fresh durian in Singapore is at one of the many durian stalls and markets that are scattered throughout the city. These roadside stalls often have the most flavorful durians, and you can usually find a variety of different types.
Ah Seng Durian
Ah Seng Durian, located in the Ghim Moh area, stall has established itself as one of the best durian stalls in Singapore. The stall is known for its fresh and high-quality durians, and they have a huge variety of durians that you can choose from. And if you haven't had enough drain, Ah Seng Durian also opened a Durian Lab Cafe that sells a variety of durian-based dessert from durian cheese tarts to waffles with durian ice cream.
You can order your durians in advance from their website.
🗺️ Address (Ghim Moh Branch): 20 Ghim Moh Rd #01-119 to #01-122, 270020
🗺️ Address (Alexandra Branch): 119 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-24 Block Block 119, Singapore 151119
Combat Durian Balestier
Another popular specialty durian shop is the Combat Durian shop, which is located in the Balestier area. A family-run stall dating back to the 1960s, Combat Durian is a must-visit for durian lovers. This shop is known for its high-quality durians, and their durians get swept up really quickly. If you are planning to head to Combat Durian for your durian fix, it is advised to drop them a message to make reservations. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for daily updates on the availability and prices of the durian.
🗺️ Address: 206 Rangoon Rd, Singapore 218452
Now, you might have heard that you should go to Geylang for durians in Singapore. There is a durian street there with multiple stalls. Of which, Durian 36 is one of the most popular ones. As with most stalls, they have a variety of durians that you can choose from. But the best thing is that they are open 24 hours, so you can get your durian fix at any time of the day.
🗺️ Address: 608 Geylang Rd, Singapore 389547
Ah Di Durian
Ah Di Durian is located in a quiet corner of Dempsey Hill, offering a very different vibe from the rest of the area. Although the prices are on the higher side, you can be sure that the durians at Ah Di Durian is of good quality. If you are not sure how to choose your durians, or not sure which variety to go for, the stall owners will be more than happy to help!
🗺️ Address: Dempsey Rd, Carpark F
Aside from durian stalls, there are other avenues for you to fix your durian cravings in Singapore!
Goodwood Park Durian Fiesta
Goodwood Park Hotel’s Durian Fiesta is a highly-anticipated annual affair for fans of the iconic fruit. Year after year, the hotel presents innovative durian-based desserts. This year, the fiesta runs from 6 March 2023 to 6 August 2023. Be sure to try their signature D24 Durian Mousse Cake and Durian Ice Cream!
Golden Moments is a one-stop-shop for everything durian. You can purchase your durians and treats online and they will be developed right to your door step. But more than just the durians themselves, Golden Moments is best known for its durian-flavoured treats, where you can be sure to enjoy the richness of the durians in their cakes, ice cream, and mooncakes.
Tips on Eating Durian
Here are some pro-tips and things to note while enjoying your durian:
- The smell of the durian could linger on your fingertips after eating. Wear a plastic glove while you're eating the durian. Alternatively, to get read of the smell, let water run through the durian husk and use that water to wash your hands.
- Most people will enjoy durian alongside mangosteen to help to clear the heatiness from durian. If you don't want to have mangosteen, consider drinking some salt water after your durian feast to achieve the same effect.
- It is recommended not to drink beer (or alcohol) together with your durian. There are sayings that having both at the same time could kill you — though it is not scientifically proven that beer and alcohol are a lethal combination, people have reported discomfort or heartburns when having both together.