When my Mom and Dad came to visit me this March, I had to think fast where to buy durian in Bangkok that would have a wide variety of good quality durian. They’ve been reading about my durian adventures in Thailand and Malaysia for years, and wanted to experience firsthand as many different Thai durians as I could find. At Or Tor Kor Market, I was able to put together a durian sampler platter of four varieties for them to taste and love (so I hoped).
Could I convert my parents to durian fans? It was worth a try.
About Or Tor Kor Market
It was about 2PM on a hot, hazy Saturday in Bangkok. We’d spent the hottest noon hours wandering the exposed, sun-washed aisles of Chatuchak Weekend Market (no durian there), and my parents were grateful to slip across the road into the shade and quiet of Or Tor Kor Market for a little durian tasting.
Or Tor Kor Market (pronounced Aw Taw Kaw) isn’t like any outdoor produce market I’ve ever been to in Thailand.
It was very clean.
The ceiling was high and shiny, the floor white, the aisles spacious. The mangoes sat in perfect pyramids. The plates of processed jackfruit, both yellow and deep-orange varieties, were covered in plastic wrap and unmolested by flies.
My parents, having never been to another Thai market, had no idea what they were missing.
The floors were dry instead of slippery with fish unknowns. Each stall had a row of bulbs highlighting the perfect produce, instead of the tunnel-like dimness of more “authentic” markets like Khlong Toei. And it was quiet.
As a high-end, upscale market, and Or Tor Kor is tame, but not lame. It was perfect for my devious durian designs: I wanted my parents to like the durian without being overwhelmed by a crowded and sometimes stinky environment. No bad first impressions.
Importantly, at Or Tor Kor there were no other strong or questionable aromas to mingle with and disguise durian’s volatile funk as something disgusting.
Perhap this is one reason Bangkok’s famous chefs and upscale restaurateurs are known to shop at Or Tor Kor. The market definitely caters to the gourmands, stocking a greater diversity of hard-to-find fruit varieties even out of season.
It’s one of the few markets in Bangkok you can find durian all year long.
Maybe because the market caters to chefs and high-end retailers, but one of the best things about Or Tor Kor is that the vendors are generous with samples.
The very first stall at the entrance was selling maprang and mayong-chit, both varieties of Bouea macrophylla, a distant relative of the mango with small round pits and smooth, deep orange flesh.
When we asked what the difference was, the vendor sliced one of each type for us, letting us take multiple pieces.
She said that maprang is better, not just because it’s larger, but because it’s less sweet.
With my genetically-inherited sweet tooth, I was pretty sure all three of us would prefer the other one. But I was wrong.
Maprang has a delicious acid fizz that rounds out the flavor, making it richer and ultimately more delicious than the smaller, sweeter mayong-chit. It’s like the difference between a spoonful of sugar and glass of lemonade — that aromatic acid really makes a difference.
I thought maybe the maprang seller was in a good mood, or was a particularly nice lady who wanted to show some interested yet clueluess farangs some good Thai fruit.
But then we started exploring the durian stalls.
Durian at Or Tor Kor Market
Even though it was March, there was plenty of durian. I’d expected that. You can buy fresh durian anytime of year in Bangkok at a number of high-end retailers, as long as you are willing to pay the price.
Most of the durian was Monthong variety, ripe to Thai perfection (firm on the outside, smooth on the inside), already removed from the shell and sold in individual pods wrapped in paper and placed on a tray, like so many pale truffles.
It was classy.
It was also relatively expensive.
Yet the vendors were keen to give us samples. I couldn’t decide if this kind of service was a perk of shopping somewhere upscale, or if they were just being really nice.
Our curious inquiries gained us nibbles of Monthong at a few different stalls, enough that I thought maybe my parents had had their fill.
I felt like the free lunch moochers at a Costco.
But either Mom and Dad are really good sports, or my durian conversion scheme is becoming successful.
Dad getting a sample of Nockachip from Ta at Ta-Toy’s Durian Stall
“I can’t believe I actually like this,” Mom commented.
It was kind of hard to believe. Just a few years ago, Mom was definitely not a durian fan. She said it made the house smell like a gas leak.
But now, they were in Bangkok eating durian, and we were just getting this durian party started.
Because just when I was getting ready to shell out some big bucks for a proper serving of Monthong we spied something more exciting.
Ta-Toy Durian Stall
It was a durian stall with not one, not two, but three kinds of durian.
I’d been hoping to give my parents a chance to taste something besides Monthong, and at Ta-Toy’s Durian Stall we found Ganyao plus Nockachip plus Puangmanee cradled side by side in their paper wrappers.
We ordered a sampler platter, with a piece of all three.
Durian Sampler Platter
In total, the sampler platter cost 300 baht for two pieces of Puangmanee, one piece ripe and one medium ripe, a small piece of Ganyao, and a medium piece of Nockachip.
The total was actually cheaper than I expected, considering that Ganyao was selling for $1,500 baht per kilo (shelled).
I was so excited to be able to share so many of Thailand’s durians with my parents! The only one missing was Chanee.
Spotting the super spiny green skin of Nockachip is what originally attracted me to Ta-Toy’s stall. I could hardly believe my eyes, because Nockachip isn’t usually available until halfway through the season, and it’s rare even then.
I suspect that this durian may have been cut too early, because it was my least favorite of the three: a bit watery and fruity.
Mom and Dad thought it was pretty good, but they liked our Monthong samples better.
Next, we tasted our wee piece of Ganyao.
I almost wished we bought another piece, because it was everything a Ganyao should be: the peanut-buttery sweet, cakey durian with a deliciously thick texture.
Mom and Dad both said that this was their favorite out of the three. Which was both a little disappointing and also lucky for me, because while they were busy polishing off the Ganyao, I got most of my personal favorite (of those three) to myself: Puangmanee.
Ta had two levels of ripeness of Puangmanee, more ripe and medium ripe.
It was no surprise to me that I liked the riper one better, but I thought Mom and Dad might prefer the sweeter, fruitier medium-ripe piece. I was wrong.
It appears we all prefer the richer, rounder, more chocolatey overtones of a ripe Puangmanee to the strawberry-sweet-weird flavor of a medium-ripe Puangmanee.
Really, it was just such a treat to be eating Puangmanee at all this early in the season. I hadn’t expected to eat my first Puangmanee until early May.
And it was an even greater treat to be sharing these durians, now so important in my life, with my Mom and Dad in Bangkok.
Or Tor Kor Market is a great place to bring your Mom and Dad, or even your Grandma, for their first durian tasting experience.
It’s clean, it’s calm, and it’s not intimidating or overwhelming the way a lot of Thai wet markets can be.
For me, being at Or Tor Kor was vaguely uncomfortable, the way I feel using the lobby bathroom of a very nice hotel. It’s cool, clean, and pretty, but I feel unavoidably aware that people of my income bracket don’t belong there.
Bring extra cash when visiting Or Tor Kor, and don’t go there for a totally outlandish, stuff-yourself-silly smorgasbord unless you’ve got extra to spend.
But if you really need some durian when it’s not really the durian season, or if you want to taste a few different varieties in a limited amount of time, or if you’re traveling with your durian-curious parents, Or Tor Kor Market will satisfy your durian needs.
How To Get To Or Tor Kor Market
The Fruit Market is located right next to Exit 3 of Kamphaeng Phet MRT Station, on the other side of the street from the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market (which has almost no fruit apart from orange juice and coconuts).
Inside the MRT Station there are signs for Or Tor Kor, but they say “Marketing Organization for Farmers.” Don’t be confused; it’s the same thing.
Ta-Toy Durian Stall
When you enter the market, turn left down the center aisle. Ta-toy faces the interior aisle, but is on the side toward the MRT Station.
Tel: 085-212-8013 / 089-818-6530