Durian Served Four Ways -- And Where To Get It

Photo from YIM Hafiz
Durian is a polarizing fruit. You either hate it or love it and there's rarely any middle ground. While others have compared the smell and taste to gym socks, feces, or rotten meat, my two cents is that the smell is reminiscent of overly-ripened mangoes. But then again, as a durian advocate, I have been told my perspective is skewed by my rare love of this controversial fruit.

Native to Southeast Asia, durians are pollinated by bats and have a creamy texture that make them a perfect ingredient to put in dessert. And even with a spiky husk that's difficult to penetrate, the smell of the flesh is so offensive that some places (public transit in Singapore, , Asian hotels) actually ban them.

Thankfully they're not prohibited in any Los Angeles joints (that we know of) and there are plenty of places that sell them. While you can purchase these fruits at most Asian grocery stores, I prefer them sugared up and in dessert form. Here are four unique ways durians are served across L.A.:

Mooncake | Photo by Clarissa WeiDurian mooncake from Sunny Bakery
The Mid-Autumn moon festival is coming up on Thursday, and Sunny Bakery is selling durian-filled mooncakes with a "snow skin" crust. The texture is reminiscent of mochi, but one bite into this gem and you'll be greeted by the cool, pale-yellow paste of durian. Because of the delicate texture, the mooncakes are refrigerated before handed out, so either eat immediately or keep cool.

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Cake | Photo by Muy SunDurian cake from Sunny Bakery
If you can't make it into Sunny by the time the holiday is over, no worries. Sunny has the fruit served in cake form on their regular rotation of baked goods. It's a light, vanilla sponge cake stuffed with durian cream and topped with fresh strawberries and kiwi.

Sticky Rice | Photo by Clarissa WeiDurian sticky rice from Veggie Life Restaurant
Durian sticky rice is mango sticky rice's lesser-known cousin. It's the same concept. The durian is condensed into a creamy coconut-flavored paste and smeared over sweet sticky rice. It makes for a rich dessert for two.

Milkshake | Photo by Clarissa WeiDurian Milkshake from Chicky's BBQ & Grill
While the yellow hue is hard to see, this durian milkshake is the most potent of the list and can be detected tables away. It's made with fresh blended chunks of durian and mixed in with a hefty amount of milk. While Chicky's BBQ is an Indonesian restaurant, these sort of milkshakes are fairly common in Thai and Vietnamese restaurants throughout the Southland.

More From Clarissa:
A Little Tokyo Food Crawl in 10 Stops
5 Unique Riffs on Chinese Food in Los Angeles
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Asian-Inspired Pastries at Oh My Pan Bakery and Tea

About the Author

I'm the Assistant Producer of New Media at KCET and a foodist with a knack for Chinese cuisine. Los Angeles native and avid night hiker.
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