Rob and I visited the Raub Durian Orchard on the evening of the same day we visited Tina and Mr. Chong. Raub is one of the major durian growing regions in Malaysia with many families depending on the fruit to supply the majority of their income. The region grows nearly exclusively Musang King and D24 for export to Singapore, taking advantage of the higher prices fetched by the Singapore market. With Musang King dominating the wholesale market, I began to wonder if Raub, and for that matter peninsular Malaysia, is on its way to losing its durian diversity.
Raub Durian Orchard is following a different business model. Mr. Eddie Yong has opened his orchard to tourists looking for a unique durian experience. The 10 acre farm is beautifully manicured and has a cement walking trail so that his city-dwelling visitors don’t have to get their shoes dirty. Eddie grows a diverse range of durians and
other fruits, including mangosteen and a relative of rambutan called Pulasan. His focus is on providing a quality experience, not just a quality durian.
We met Eddie at his photography shop in downtown Raub. He seemed shy as we drove to his orchard, conveniently located on a paved road. The other orchards we visited in Raub required four-wheel drive and a skilled driver. Several of Eddie’s friends who were in town to go wild boar hunting met us at the orchard. They spent some time eating durian and looking at Eddie’s 12 gauge shotgun. Nevertheless, I was slightly weirded out when he carried the shotgun around for our tour.
Using a business model similar to Bao Sheng Durian Farm in Penang, Eddie offers an all-you-can-eat durian buffet that follows a carefully planned progression of varieties. For 50 RM per person he starts his guests off with the
milder, sweeter durians like D24 and the previously prized D2. These are followed
by the stickier and more flavorful Horlor, D145 (a cousin of Musang King), and Red Prawn. I was surprised to learn that while Musang King is included, it isn’t the final cap to the progression. The final durian
variety is Tekka!
I feel lucky having recently been treated to so many Musang Kings, but I admit, I was excited to try some other varieties. I was not disappointed. Eddie started us with his own personal favorite, Tekka. We’d tried Tekkah once before, in Kuala Lumpur with Mr. Lee, of FAMA. It is also his favorite. At the time we weren’t impressed, but this time around I could see why Tekka is a popular variety even among Raub’s wholesale crowd. The small seed gives it considerable heft; its the fleshiest durian we’ve come across since eating Jackie Chan’s Wife (Lin Fong Jiau) in Penang. The bitter, flavorful flesh combines the buttery-ness of a D101 and the silky suaveness of the Musang King.
Eddie uses a device of his own invention to easily crack open durians.
We’ve seen another durian opener in Penang, Malaysia, but thought Eddie’s no-knife, no-hassle method was even cleaner since it avoids the risk of possibly squashing the soft durian pulp. Even a 2-year-old can use it, as demonstrated by this cutie-pie in a photo taken by Eddie. He sells the “Durian Openers” for 100 RM per set.
Weekends at Raub Durian Orchard fill up quickly, with guests from as far away as Germany, Russia,
France, Japan, Italy, and Iran.
The majority of visitors are from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, city-dwellers who come to enjoy the fresh air, beautiful countryside, and of course, the fresh durian. Many have never seen a durian tree before.
“They take many photos,” Eddie said, “They get really excited.”
On the weekends, Eddie hosts 80-120 people each day.
He exports some durians to Singapore, though his orchard doesn’t produce the volume of Tina’s or Mr. Chong’s. But Eddie isn’t concerned about exporting his durians to Singapore, he’s concerned about bringing the Singaporeans to his durians. He’s even considering building a durian chalet on his hillside property. It would be a beautiful place to take a vacation.
See what’s new at Raub Durian Farm on this 2018 Update.