Penang is just a little bit snobby about its durian.
Yes, they have some of the best durian I’ve ever tasted, but at prices so high that it can be hard to really feel satiated.
So when a friend told me about this All-You-Can-Eat durian restaurant in Georgetown, I definitely wanted to visit.
Returning To Penang
I returned to Penang in late July of this year after a great time in Northern Thailand, where I took my first tour group to a small durian area called Uttaradit (Rob was still in America).
My friend Roy and I took the train from Bangkok, which is already a long trip. This last time it was delayed by more than 4 hours, making our total travel time closer to 26 hours and ensuring that by the time we arrived in Penang, I was very hungry.
What made the train trip more fun is that we happened to be sitting a few seats away from Rachel and Patrick, who are fans of this blog and who had emailed me just earlier that week. I was absolutely delighted and flattered when they told me they had been using “The Durian Tourist’s Guide to Thailand,” as their sole travel guide for their adventures in Thailand!
I knew from the moment I met them they were true durian fanatics. Just look at these very cool postcards Rachel was making to send home.
So when we arrived in Penang I invited them to come along to Ting Siang Hock Trading’s Eat-All-You-Can Durian Buffet.
The buffet is one of the few durian locales open all year round in Penang.
They import durians from the mainland, which explains why they are a bit cheaper as well.The lowest buffet package was 30 RM, which did not include the big tickets like Musang King and Black Thorn.
Later Alfred, our server, snuck us a Musang King anyway.
We were all a bit dirty from the train ride, so we washed our hands in the sink provided and took a seat toward the back of the restaurant. Most durian stalls I’ve been to are open-air affairs with tarps or umbrellas for cover, so it was a nice change to be inside of a building.
I was so hungry I wanted to just rip open the durian myself. But Alfred took the time to make a special presentation for us.
The tower of wrinkled, bruising cream was a good first impression.
Everyone snapped a few photos (and I snapped a lot). Then we dug in with glee.
What made the experience even more delicious was that Rachel, Patrick and Roy had never eaten a Malaysian durian before. They were so excited!
And with reason. After just a few weeks away in Thailand I was really super stoked to be eating these durians too!
Alfred started us with two pillowy D24’s piled high. Then he brought a lesser known durian called Tembaga.
I was shocked to see Tembaga, as the last time I’d tasted it was in Sarawak, Borneo.
It didn’t look pretty. The flesh had turned a bit translucent, hinting at watery vinegar.
But wow, what a flavor! We all agreed that we liked Tembaga more than D24, and tried to get Alfred to bring us another. I’d really love to taste this one fresh sometime.
I’m not certain if it was the same “Tembaga” that I ate in Borneo. Tembaga just means “copper” in Malayu and might be a common name for kampung durians with orangey flesh.
The other surprising durian was Butter, a Penang local special that I’d only heard of this year.
This durian is amazing. Each piece was swollen with a soft, silky cream that was both sweet, bitter, and a tiny bit salty. I imagine this, as well as it’s creamy color, is where it gets it’s name.
As we plowed through more durians, Alfred must have decided we were close to finished because he brought out a few pieces of Musang King, piled on top of our D24 order.
We weren’t close to finished, but we appreciated the gesture and the free Musang King.
Musang King never disappoints.
None of the durians were the fresh, eat-this-in-reverie durians that you can often find on Penang, but for a post-season buffet the durians were really good.
We left the buffet stuffed, happy, and a little bit high from the all the durian phytochemicals buzzing around in our systems.
With friends, a comfortable environment, and an endless supply of good quality durian, it was the perfect durian meal.
Ting Siang Hock Trading’s Eat-All-You-Can Durian Buffet
Open Hours: 11 AM – 11 PM Monday-Saturday, All Year Long
Address: No.74, Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, Georgetown Penang
Prices: 30 RM buffet without Musang King and Black Thorn, 60 RM Buffet with
How to get there: If you are staying on Chulia Street, the buffet is an easy 10 minute walk. From Chulia Street,merely walk down Jalan Carnarvon and hang a left. It’s located across the street from Prangin Mall.