“Let’s make it a quick stop,” I said. If I had a watch, I’d have looked at it. But I needn’t have said it. Jakar Sarawak is small. Really small. From the highway, it looks like this:
To be brutal, Jakar looks slummy. It’s a row of tin roofs and beach umbrellas crammed up against a grassy berm facing a few Chinese restaurants and convenience shops.
On the other side of the highway, there’s a Shell Station, which is probably what makes other people slow down enough to stop here.
Luckily, our little car, The Pearl, refused to top 70 kph. We cruised through Jakar just slow enough for our sharp-eyed durian scout in the back seat to spot something interesting.
There is a small outdoor market in front of the large Chinese Restaurant called the Jade. This is what caught her eye.
If you stand in front of these stalls, and you turn around, you’ll see the fruit stalls lining the aforementioned grassy berm. They look only slightly more promising from this angle.
But this is where the good stuff is. Some things just require closer investigation.
Tucked into this small, unassuming row of fruit sellers, we made some exciting finds, both durian and otherwise.
We even found a fruit we saw nowhere else durian our whole trip in Sarawak.
Ready? Excited much? Did you catch the pun in the last paragraph?
As we scanned the short row, something new caught all six of our eyeballs. There was something purple.
From a distance, they looked like a pile of matte plums. But when I picked one up, it was hard to the touch, encased in a hard shell.
They were Fijian Longans (Pometia pinnata). The vendor called them Buah Kasai. Sometimes in Sarawak they’re also known as Crystal Longans.
The shell breaks easily with a squeeze, sort of like snapping cardboard. Inside is a firm, translucent flesh with a decidedly grape muskiness.
“They taste like candy,” Daniella from Sweden said. “I feel like I shouldn’t be eating them.”
It reminded me of an American scuppernog, or a less sweet concord grape juice.
They cost 10RM/kilo, and there wasn’t that much. So we packed it all into the back of the Pearl. And I wonder why that little car goes so slow…
Durio Graveolens Yellow
There was only one pile (tompok) for sale in the whole strip, so of course I snapped it up. This whole pile of 4 durians sold for 10RM, a steal over what they were charging at the Saratok Rest Stop.
But then, you get what you pay for. The biggest one of the bunch wasn’t 100% ripe inside.
This is what an unripe Durio graveolens looks like:
It was soft, but the flesh was as pale as cream instead of the golden yellow it should have been.
It tasted worse than water. We threw the whole durians into the bushes.
Luckily, my last purchase was a total gold mine:
Pakan – Durio kutejensis
The real score was this tree ripened Durio kutejensis. The seller, Azlina, had fruits from two trees in two different piles.
Naturally, I bought one of each.
But then as I stood there, waiting for the completion of the Fijian Longan transaction and chatting with Azlina, she let me taste one piece of each durian right there.
“Tidak sama sama,” she said. “They’re not the same.”
She was right.
One had dark orange flesh and a creamy, sticky, peanut-buttery texture. It was almost as creamy and sticky as a Duri graveolens, but with a sweeter, fruitier kick.
The other was even sweeter, a paler color, and a little waxy. It was more like the Durio kutejensis I’ve always thought I didn’t like. I didn’t like it.
I bought the other tompok of the dark orange one, and then we continued on at our merry snail pace, sucking on durian seeds and looking for the next little stop with the promise of something interesting.
Where is Jakar Sarawak?
Jakar is halfway between Saratok and Sarikei on the AH150 highway running North-South from Kuching to Sibu.
Use this map to find Jakar or navigate to other areas of durian interest in Malaysia.