It was a hot afternoon on Jonker Street in Melaka’s Old Town. We passed a small durian stall, but my new friend and I kept walking. We were going to the Durian Cottage, because there is nothing on the menu at Durian Cottage that doesn’t have durian inside of it.
Durian cottage has a decently wide assortment of snacks and desserts: Durian mooncakes, daifuku (mochi), real cake, coffee, ice cream, crepe/pancakes, cendol, cream puffs, and the “durian bomb.”
I was looking for an excuse to visit Malacca, and I decided Durian Cottage was it.
The Durian Cottage is located in Old Town Malacca, only a 2-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. Malacca is one of those places that people normally visit when they come to Malaysia, and then ask me how I liked it there. For years, I’d tell them I’d never been.
See, compared to it’s neighbors, Malacca doesn’t grow much in the way of durian. Priorities, right?
Malacca is more about history, architecture, culture, and most importantly, food.
In its heyday, say about 600 years ago, it was the thriving center of a powerful empire. Then it was conquered by the Portuguese, who lost it to the Dutch, who decided they didn’t want it anymore and gave the whole state to the British.
The history is fascinating, the mishmash of food fusion alluring, but — like I said — not much durian grows there.
We did find durian almost immediately though. I spotted this small durian stall almost as soon as we got out of the car.
It was the only fresh durian we saw all afternoon. We passed right by it, because we were on a mission to taste durian desserts at the Durian Cottage.
Finding the Durian Cottage took a few spins of the map and retracing our steps, leading us past many, many, many restaurants advertising durian puffs and durian cendol. I was so thirsty that it was hard to stay focused on finding the Durian Cottage.
I started to be skeptical: would a “durian-specific” cafe make a better durian cendol than anybody else?
For that matter, was a “bad” durian cendol even possible? How could anybody possibly do ice, coconut milk, palm syrup and durian pulp wrong?
The Durian Cottage: Haven For Durian Lovers
We found the Durian Cottage about a block off the “Jonker Walk” on Jalan Tokong. It’s about one block away from the famed Jonker Night Market.
It’s a small hole-in-the-wall shop like all the others, but with a big welcome sign out for us durian lovers.
We headed inside out of the sun and made ourselves at home.
The shop isn’t very big, with a narrow aisle running to the back of the store where the ice cream machine lives. On one side a wall of shelves is dedicated to Durian Cottage’s own line of durian products, which I recently learned you can buy as far away as Hong Kong.
The other side (just to the left of this photo) is a display refrigerator showing the durian goodies within.
They were out of the “Durian Bomb,” or else I would have persuaded/coerced my friend into tasting it for me. As it was, there were only two vegan options: the cendol, and the durian daifuku.
Durian Daifuku: Durian-stuffed mochi
I’d never heard of Daifuku, but the little rice-flour dumpling placed on the counter before me looked suspiciously like mochi.
Later I learned that we American are using the term mochi wrong; the word actually refers to the special flour they’re made out of and not the cakes themselves, which are (you guessed it) Daifuku.
The daifuku was 2RM a piece, but since it didn’t look exciting we split one.
I didn’t notice them on the product shelf until after we’d eaten, which is when I realized that although the daifuku I tasted was served from a refrigerator, the things are shelf-stable.
Which explains a lot.
Maybe my mouth was just dry (we still hadn’t had cendol), but to me the rice outer layer was dry and tasteless, while the interior (supposedly pure D24) was weakly durian flavored. It was overall disappointing.
Making Durian Cendol
The cendols cost 6 RM each, which was slightly higher than I’d paid for durian cendol elsewhere, but not an unreasonable price.
I liked how she made the cendol right in front of us, so I could observe from my comfy stool at the counter. It felt intimate and fun.
First she ground the ice into fluffy powder.
Which she scooped into two very pretty, if slightly small, bowls and topped with a sweet bean paste made (I think) from adzuki beans.
Next came some thick green rice noodles which were a deeper shade of green than I’d seen elsewhere, like at the Durian Cafe, and a fluffy scoop of durian.
Then she drowned the whole thing in a very thick, luscious coconut milk.
The result was gorgeous, a work of art compared to the slop of cendols I’ve eaten elsewhere.
But the bowl was kind of small. There was barely enough room for the ice to begin melting and diluting the concoction. This made the cendol extra sweet and super rich, which I unfortunately found kind of sickening.
I blame my mother for raising me on nonfat milk.
The worst though, for me, were the noodles that give the cendol it’s name. The noodles are never my favorite part and to be honest I could usually do without them; but these were tough and kind of chewy with a strong flavor that unfortunately, reminded me of plastic.
I asked my friend how he liked the cendol. He shrugged, a man of few words, and then ordered the durian ice cream.
Durian Ice Cream
The ice cream cost 5 RM per cup, and has received rave reviews on Yelp and other sites.
This, my friend said, was, was really good, and the best item he tasted that day from Durian Cottage.
I was not impressed by the Durian Cottage. It was not my favorite cendol; and considering just how many places in Malacca sell durian cendol I wouldn’t go out of my way to hit up this spot. Later we actually visited a spot near the History Museum that had an ice-heavy cendol I really liked for only 3.80RM.
My friend said it was because Indian and Chinese make their cendol differently; and I apparently have a taste for Indian-style cendol. Who knew!
I did like the small, quiet atmosphere of Durian Cottage, and my friend said the ice cream was quite good. So if you want to try a bunch of durian goodies or buy a few funny snacks for home, Durian Cottage may be what you’re looking for.
- Durian Cendol: 6RM ($1.50)
- Durian Ice Cream: 5 RM
- Durian Daifuku: 2 RM
How to Go To The Durian Cottage
The Durian Cottage is located in on Jalan Tokong, just a block off the famous Jonker Walk.