Before judging us, remember that the main purpose of the durian tours is, in fact, to eat gobs of durian. And not just any durian, but the widest variety of durian flavors. I wanted the group to get a good taste of a very unique durian variety called Capri, a boozy, banana-rum tasting durian, so there was only place to go: Eng Hoe’s Durian in Batu Ferringhi.
About Eng Hoe Durian
Eng Hoe Durian is located just north of Batu Ferringhi by the old Chinese cemetery. It’s just a small stall on the roadside, with the farm located behind it. I pass it often on my way to and from Bao Sheng Durian Farm, where I tend to hang out for most of the summer.
I’ve passed by for years, always on my way somewhere, and usually running late. I’d always meant to stop, and especially once I heard that the farm might have the mother tree of the rum-infused variety called Capri.
So in early June I finally stopped. That’s my bicycle leaning against the pole.
About Eng Hoe Durian
For the last 8 years, Eng Hoe Durian Stall has been run by Ah Liang and his partner, Ah Ba (Mr Liang and Mr. Ba).
Unlike other durian farms/stalls you may visit, Ah Liang doesn’t actually own the land. He’s a tenant farmer in addition to owning Baba’s Guesthouse by the Sea in Batu Ferringhi, a budget homestay right on the beach.
His lease runs out this year, and he said he’s not sure yet whether or not he and Ah Ba will renue. It depends on whether the eponymous Eng Hoe, who actually owns the land, gives them a good price.
He also said that, despite having grown up in the guesthouse with all the international hippies who frequented the area in the 1970s, he was still surprised that a Westerner like me could be so interested in durians.
Then another Westerner showed up on a motorbike, and we shared one of Ah Liang’s famous Capri durians.
I didn’t realize he was filming at the time, but he captured most of my interview with Ah Liang and us eating Capri together on his Youtube channel, Eyes on Fruit.
I’ll be honest; I don’t usually care for Capri. But it’s many people’s favorites and one that is often requested at Bao Sheng Durian Farm. Since I am old enough to have theory of mind, I was eager to discover the story behind this unique, rum-flavored durian for all of you.
All About Capri
Capri is one of the palest white-fleshed durians out there. It’s usually plump and pillowy, with thick wrinkles tinged in a cream-colored shadows. As I’ve said, it’s not my favorite durian.
Why? Because it tastes too strongly of alcohol.
Banana-whiskey, to be specific. It’s pungent and… unique. Singaporeans especially seem to love it.
Few people grow Capri these days, because the pearly white flesh doesn’t appeal to crowds like the turmeric yellow or orangey cream other more popular durians.
At Ah Liang’s, it’s his farm’s specialty durian. He has 53 trees of Capri, all around 50 years old. That’s way more than any durian farm I’ve ever been to in Penang.
But the rumor that led to me stopping at his stall — that he had the Capri mother tree — was just that. According to Ah Liang, the original owner of his 8.8 acres was a man named Pri (who has since died), who bought his Capri trees from another farm called Chui Chan Durian Farm in Bayan Lepas, near the airport.
How to Identify Capri
Capri is a medium sized durian that is always very round. Usually, the thorns are completely green, but for some reason I picked one with a bit more brown to take a photo.
Capri’s biggest give away is its large, slightly curved, wide-based spikes.
These spikes are HUGE, relative to the size of the durian. It makes this unconventional durian stand out in a crowd. People always notice it and ask what it is.
The bottom has a flat space and stands upright like a pumpkin if you set it on a table or a chair (it won’t run away!) but that flat space still has thorns, they’re just super tiny.
Capri itself is unique enough that I wanted to take my group of connoisseur durian-tasters to Eng Hoe’s, but it turns out he has a lot of other varieties too.
So the next time I visited Mr. Liang, I brought the whole gang of durian lovers, and we tasted every variety he had.
We consumed 21 durians during our visit, or approximately 3 durians per person. Just look at those happy faces.
This is the line up of all the durians we ate there:
This one confused us, because it wasn’t D15. Ah Liang called it Malaysia 15, and I’d actually never heard of it before.
It had a rich yellow color and was mild, not too sweet or too pungent with a thick buttery texture. A good starter durian.
Who comes up with these names? The longer I hang out on Penang, the more “red-fleshed” durian varieties I find, although this one seemed most reminiscent of Little Red.
I had to ask Ah Liang about his one a couple of times, because I kept thinking he was saying 604. 604 is the name of a very common, early-season variety. But no, this is 602.
My first impression of this durian was that the color was weird. It had a sort of neon green glow to it that the camera didn’t really catch. I was a little suspicious.
But then the texture was super thick and sticky, like cookie dough or edible playdough, with a pleasant flavor not unlike D24. We gobbled it up and moved on to the next one.
This one really got the group’s attention. They called it the Macadamia Butter durian, and we requested two or three more. In fact, this one got gobbled so quickly I barely had time to take a photo!
The color was a beautiful rosy orange, darker than the 932 we ate earlier. It did have a deliciously fatty, slightly nutty flavor that was reminiscent of the lipid sweetness of a macadamia nut. We were all raving fans, or at least until the next durian…
I’d never seen Star Fruit before, so it must be a kampung durian (seedling) that someone gave a name.
Nevertheless, a few people declared it one of their favorites of the entire trip (9 farms, a lot of durian). It had a pale cream colored flesh that was pretty soft and soupy and a sweet, almost menthol-like flavor that tasted tinged with mint to me.
I’m not sure if it’s called Star Fruit in honor of the Carambola or because some aspect of this durian looks like a star.
What do you think?
This was one of the last durians we tasted, and it got gobbled so fast I didn’t take any notes about it. I guess that’s a good sign! It’s another “red-fleshed” one that seemed similar to the D700.
This was the durian that made everyone exclaim “Ice Cream!”
The name translates as “Green Bean,” but I’m not sure why. Maybe because the spikes are a deep green.
It tasted so french vanilla smooth it was ridiculous. Dense and sticky, this durian will definitely be on my list of favorites from 2016.
Behind the durian stall is a small cement bridge and a narrow track that heads up into the durian orchard.
We didn’t make it that far, because we were too distracted by the macaques that had taken up residence in the stall’s trash heap.
More like durian-shell heap.
The monkeys were having a serious durian party back there, picking at all the half-eaten pieces we were too stuffed to consume ourselves and any Capris that were no longer fit to eat.
Capri is still not my favorite durian, but I get it. I get why people like it. It’s got a beautiful texture and a uniquely strong, rum-like flavor. If you’re into alcoholic beverages, it’s totally your thing. It’s a cocktail of a durian, but personally, I’ll stick with that Kacang Hijau. That was amazing.
I like that Eng Hoe’s Stall had some really unique durian varieties you can’t find at other durian farms in Penang, and the quality and freshness was really good.
And if you’re staying in Batu Ferringhi, like most beach-going tourists, it’s nice to have some high quality durian close by.
Let’s just hope that Mr. Liang keeps the farm for another 8 years. I’ll update this page before the 2017 season to let you know what he decides.
How to Get To Eng Hoe’s Durian Stall
Eng Hoe’s Durian Stall is located near the Chinese Cemetery just north of Batu Ferringhi on the road to Teluk Bahang and the Spice Gardens. There’s just the one road, so you really can’t miss it.
Call Mr. Liang: (+6)016-490-2272