2020 UPDATE: The Goh Bro’s have since come up with a name for their farm – Bunga Raya – and have also moved locations to the Asiawash Autospa
“If you don’t come up with a name for your durian stall, I’m going to call it Fatty’s,” I threatened Howard Goh, the martial arts master who operates the new durian stall next to the Lexis Suites Hotel. He laughed.
The Goh Brothers are a second generation durian family in the southern part of Penang. There are two brothers: Howard, and his brother Keong, who is a well known member of the municipal counsel. Their farm is in Sungei Batu, right next to the farm where the original mother tree of the Kapri /Capri durian once grew.
Kapri was the reason I had tracked the Goh’s down and was visiting their new no-name stall. I’d been hunting the story of Kapri, and where it comes from, for my new book, The Durian Tourist’s Guide to Penang. The Goh’s had some of the answers to my questions.
Just not the name of their durian stall.
About the Goh Bro’s Durian Stall
The stall sits on the shoulder of the busy byway leading from the airport to Balik Pulau. It’s not the most peaceful spot, but it’s easy for durian drive-through. While we sat chatting about Kapri, several people stopped and purchased durian without even getting out of their cars. The stall was empty, but Howard was busy.
“No time even to cut my hair,” he joked.
Before this year, the Goh’s had a durian stall near the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Tanjung Bungah. From their farm it’s a 50-minute drive, assuming traffic is abnormally light.
This year, 2017, they decided to move their stall closer to the farm. Now their stall is just next to the Lexis Suites Hotel, only a 5-minute drive from their trees and a 15-minute drive from the airport (for anyone looking for some quick pre-flight snacking).
Their 36-acre farm was purchased in 1969 by their father, Goh Ah Ba.
The land he purchased neighbored that of Lee Hai Chan, the owner of the original Kapri mother tree.
I was excited to meet him. I’d been searching for clues about Kapri since Mr. Liang of Eng Hoe’s Durian Stall told me that his Kapri trees had originally come from a Mr. Chan who lived nearby the airport. Finally, I would get the whole story. Or almost the whole story.
This is what I know about Kapri (in a sample from the new eBook, print book will have a much prettier layout):
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And also in the Chinese version, now available as both an eBook and also as a physical print copy.
Loose ends irritate me. It’s super satisfying to tie them up.
“So what should I call your durian stall?” I asked Howard. “Fatty’s?”
Fatty is a cat.
She hopped up on the table while we were eating the Kapri, demanding attention.
Howard scooped her up, and staring into her amber-green eyes, told her she was gaining weight. To prove it, he plopped her onto the scale.
“Gained a 1/2 kilo already,” Howard says. “Fatty.”
I told Howard I thought he should call his stall “Fatty’s Durian,” because it’s has two meanings.
Everyone will think the name is because durian is an indulgence, a heavy, creamy, rich, delicious dessert of a food that can help you put on the kilos. But anyone in the know will realize that Fatty is his cat.
He laughed. And then we ate some more durian.
Of course, we started with his Kapri. Since their farm was right next door to the original Kapri tree, the family has a lot of old Kapri trees.
“It cannot go to the competition because it’s a white color,” Keong explained to us. “My brother (Howard) says that the people who don’t know how to eat durian, they want color in their durian. The people who know how to eat durian want taste.”
Kapri is a bit like a fine wine, I think. It’s creamy and smooth and bitter, with a strong alcoholic after-flavor that my less sophisticated palate has never managed to embrace.
Having come all that way for the story of Kapri, I couldn’t not get one.
But after we opened it, and I tried again to enjoy it, Howard suggested I try another one of his durians. He thought I would like this better:
“I like this one too,” Howard said, picking up the elongated green durian. He held it out for me to sniff. If smelle amazing, bitter and sweet with that huff of fresh durian gas that makes my nose tingle.
I commented that it doesn’t look like the Kunyit I’m used to at Bao Sheng Durian, and Howard explained that Kunyit is one of those terms that can refer to lot a of different durian trees. It means “yellow,” so if you have an unknown durian tree that makes yellow fruit you’ll probably call it Kunyit.
Each individual piece of the durian was small, but fleshy wrapped around a minuscule and strangely soft seed. Some of the seeds were even flexible, instead of hard, like sucking cream off a yummy bear. It was kind of a weird sensation.
So I opted to peel the flesh off the seed instead. Luckily this Kunyit is the type with a thick enough inner skin that you can peel the flesh back without dirtying your fingers too much. The flavor was sweet and nutty, better in flavor than a Horlor. I’d guess people who like Musang King would like this one.
I recommend calling it “Fatty’s Kunyit.”
In the end we asked the patriarch, Mr. Ah Ba, what to call the family’s durian stall. He thought for a minute, and suggested that the stall be named after his best durian, an old tree that grows next to where they keep the goats. They call it “Yong Lan,” which literally means Goat Fence.
“So your durian stall is Goh’s Goat Pen?” I asked cheekily. We all laughed, and still didn’t decide anything.
So if you have a suggestion for what to name this durian stall, please leave it in the comments below. Howard and Keong will vote on the best suggestion 🙂
Getting To Goh’s Durian Stall
The stall is located next to the Lexis Suites Hotel, just 5.3 km from the Penang International Airport or about a 15-minute drive.
Call Howard: 016-524-8422
Follow the map below to go there, or use this map to find other durian hotspots nearby or around Malaysia.