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Your ultimate guide to durian season in Singapore

It's durian season! Here are the types of durians available, the best shops to buy them, and where to enjoy them as desserts in Singapore

Cheryl Sekkappan
Written by
Megan Sim
&
Cheryl Sekkappan
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Is there any country that loves durians as much as we do? We love it so much we built a building in its image – that's hard to beat. Whether you personally love or hate the king of fruits, there's no denying that it always makes a splash when it's in season, with durian stalls popping up everywhere and aunts, uncles, neighbours and friends scrambling to get their favourite varieties at the best prices. With so many options on the market and unscrupulous sellers besides, durian season can get a bit overwhelming. Here's our guide to help you get the best of the crop on your table. 

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What you need to know

When is durian season?
Photograph: Supplied

When is durian season?

Right now! But seriously, the bumper crop typically arrives between June and September, with a minor season from December to February. You can't miss it though – you'll see durian stalls popping up everywhere and the pungent smell of the fruit almost wherever you go. 

How to pick the best durians?

How to pick the best durians?

Go for the durians that are oval in shape, with a green or grey (rather than yellow) hue. It helps to know what a Mao Shan Wang or D24 is supposed to look like too, so you can't be tricked into getting a lesser variety.

Don't be afraid to go by touch – scrape the stems and look for a bright green skin underneath, and pinch the spikes to check that they are stiff and rigid. The best way is to get the seller to open the durian up for you so you can inspect the pulp inside. The flesh should look taut and on the dry side, and feel firm to the touch. Ask to taste it: so you can absolutely be sure you're getting what you're paying for. 

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What to pair with durians?
Photograph: The Orchard Cafe

What to pair with durians?

Popular wisdom goes that you should have durians with mangosteens. While there's little scientific evidence to back that up, there's really no harm in having Vitamin C-rich mangosteens alongside your durian feast. Beyond that, the sky's the limit! Durians are popularly paired with ice cream and various cold desserts – just try to avoid having it with alcohol. It's not likely to be fatal, but can give you heartburn or make you feel bloated.

Are durians good for me?
Durian Lingers

Are durians good for me?

Contrary to popular belief, durians actually contain no cholesterol. In fact, the monounsaturated fats found in the fruit may help to lower your bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels. That doesn't mean you should overindulge of course – durians have high sugar content, so diabetics especially should watch out. As with everything, eat in moderation. 

Popular durian varieties

Mao Shan Wang
Photograph: Shutterstock

Mao Shan Wang

By far the most coveted durian variety in Singapore, the main novelty of indulging in Mao Shan Wang (MSW) durians is that you won’t know what to expect – its sticky-creamy flesh can be sweet, bitter or even bittersweet. 

Wang Zhong Wang
Photograph: The Durian Tree/Facebook

Wang Zhong Wang

Looking for something even better than MSW? Then you have to try Wang Zhong Wang, which literally translates to the king of kings. The triple-A grade MSW durians are set apart from the pack for their well-balanced bitterness and velvety smooth texture. 

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D24
Photograph: Shutterstock

D24

Even though this is one of the more expensive durian varieties out there, it’s good value for money given how small the seeds are. Bite into its dark yellow flesh to see why it’s such a crowd-pleaser – it's the perfect balance of sweet and bitter. D24 durians are also sometimes referred to as Sultan durians. 

XO
Photograph: Shutterstock

XO

XO durians have an extended fermentation period, lending them an alcoholic aftertaste. Don’t be alarmed if the flesh looks like it’s gone bad – it’s meant to be watery and suspiciously soft. 

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Red Prawn
Photograph: Shutterstock

Red Prawn

Its vibrant orangey-red flesh is sticky, intensely sweet and highly pungent – perfect for those with a sweet tooth but probably not our pick for those new to durians. 

Black Thorn
Photograph: 99 Old Trees/Facebook

Black Thorn

The elusive Black Thorn durian can outprice even the highly- sought after Mao Shan Wang durian. Hailing from Penang, it's known for its deep orange flesh, round shape, and a black stem sticking out the bottom. This fruity and pungent variety has a slight bittersweet aftertaste.

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Black Pearl
Photograph: Durian Delivery

Black Pearl

This Malaysian-bred durian is a pale greyish-yellow and is slightly bitter. As its name suggests, Black Pearl durians are rare and pricey. If you do manage to get your hands on them though, you’ll be intrigued by how small their seeds are. 

The best places to buy durian in Singapore

  • Restaurants
  • Buona Vista

Many people maintain that Ah Seng is one of the best places to get your taste of the stinky fruit in Singapore due to its affordable prices and dependable service. This durian season, it's offering MSW durians at $45 per box, Golden Phoenix at $20 per kg, Black Pearl at $14 per kg and Red Prawn at $12 per kg. 

Order for pick-up ahsengdurian.com.sg

  • Restaurants
  • Novena

Having been in the durian business for over 50 years, Combat Durian has its own plantation in Malaysia where it gathers its stock from. You can find a wide variety of durians but not to be missed is the MSW that comes highly recommended. MSW durians are currently priced at $24 per kg – head down early to avoid disappointment as they've been selling out on the daily.

Order for pick-up wa.me/6592789928

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99 Old Trees
  • Restaurants
  • Singaporean
  • Kallang

Devouring durians doesn't always have to be an activity best done at home. At 99 Old Trees, you can feast on durians at an intimate omakase-style session. Book a seat at the table and eat your way through six variants of durian specially handpicked by the restaurant ranging from the popular Mao Shan Wang to the lesser-known Black Thorn. Besides unlimited portions of the Mao Shan Wang and D24 Sultan durian, diners also get to try unique house-made desserts like the smooth and creamy durian mousse and cream puff.

Order for pick-up and delivery 99oldtrees.com

  • Restaurants
  • Marine Parade

This durian shop out on East Coast Road carries a wide variety of the king of fruits. For now, MSW durians are priced at $22 per kg, XO durians at $16 per kg, Black Pearl durians at $15 per kg, and you can get Red Prawn and Hulu durians at $12 per kg. It brings in different varieties once they come into season so keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook page.

Order for pick-up and delivery 227katongdurians.com

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  • Restaurants
  • Jurong East

This durian specialty store is dedicated to the Mao Shan Wang – the highly sought-after variant that is well-loved for its creamy texture and bittersweet taste. Sample the king of fruits, hand-picked from trees in Raub, Pahang, in a comfortable dine-in setting, or bring home the experience with its extensive selection of durian desserts – smooth ice cream, exploring cream puffs, fluffy sliced cakes, and more.

Order for pick-up and delivery WhatsApp +65 81868552

  • Shopping
  • Street vendors
  • Ang Mo Kio

With a name like Dr Durian, you best believe this joint knows what it's doing when it comes to the King of fruits. It claims to only source the freshest durians for sale, and its modern outlook is boosted by delivery offers and corporate and private event services. It even packages its durian in air-tight sealed paper bags so its patrons have no need to worry about the fruit's pungent aroma clouding up their cars or public transport vehicles. Current stock includes the Pahang black gold ($25/kg), bitter king durian ($20/kg) and Pahang grade 'A' MSW ($23/kg).  

Order for pick-up and delivery duriandelivery.com.sg

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  • Shopping
  • Street vendors
  • Ang Mo Kio

This durian vendor impresses with its trendy logo and host of services – doorstep delivery, corporate and private events, live stations and packaging to be shipped overseas. You can even send a text to the vendor to make your reservations and orders. It offers a wider range of durian varieties than most, with the crowd-favourite MSW ($22/kg), Golden Phoenix ($20/kg), and Wang Zhong Wang ($25/kg), as well as MSW puree ($35/kg).

Order for delivery wa.me/6591729091

Dine on durian

  • Restaurants
  • Orchard

For durian salat and burnt cheesecake

Shoot top down on a clean background for maximum Instagram love – Chalk Farm's simply dressed cakes channel the rustic vibes that dominate hashtags on the 'Gram. Now, you can add the super aesthetic durian salat ($165) to your feed – glutinous rice tinted with blue pea extract contrasts with a yellowish custard enriched with coconut milk and Mao Shan Wang durian. But if you're a cheese lover, try the burnt durian cheesecake ($130) which piles on the richness with – you guessed it – Mao Shan Wang durian as well. 

Order thechalkfarm.com

  • Restaurants
  • Singaporean
  • City Hall

For classic durian cake

Sinpopo Coffee in Funan is where you'll find Nanyang coffee beans roasted with butter – but prepared like an Italian espresso, glossy cakes with a traditional flair – think pulut hitam, gula melaka and coffee. For savoury grub, you can make your own banh mi using local ingredients and flavours. On top of that, you can also get a fluffy durian cake. Dig into soft layers filled with pure Mao Shan Wang durian and light cream, topped off with more MSW durian pulp and cake crumb. 

Order sinpopo.com

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  • Hotels
  • Orchard

For a full-on durian fiesta

If you dream of eating durian desserts all afternoon (and night too), Goodwood Park Hotel will gladly oblige with its July Special: Mao Shan Wang and D24 Durian Combo ($58). One set comes with a slice of MSW Swiss roll, a cup of MSW 'durianmisu', a slice each of D24 cookies and cream cake and D24 trio chocolate cake, a D24 & sweet potato in chestnut tartlet and a mini D24 salted caramel delight. You can also spring for the limited edition items: the hotel's signature MSW mousse cake and power puff. 

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Woodlands

For durian puffs and mochi

As its name implies, this local bakery specialises in Durian desserts. Its famous bite-sized durian puffs ($9 for 12) are filled with only D24 durian puree. That means no cream or sugar, just durian! Sunlife also does modern variations of pastry like the durian macarons ($12 for six), durian mochi ($7.50) and more. If you're not crazy for durian, don't fret. You can still pick up the mini chocolate and cream custard puffs (from $7), or fruit tarts ($5 for six) and mini eclairs ($4 for six). 

Order sunlifepastries.com

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