Davao City has a lot of durian. Piles of it, and at some of the cheapest prices you’ll find in Asia. But if you’re a durian connoisseur, you’ll quickly find that Davao has a lot of bad quality durian. You have to eat this bad durian while standing in some of the busiest traffic you’ll find in Asia. There are few places where you can just get away from the hubbub and enjoy what you expect to be good quality durian.
That’s why I like D’Farmers Market.
About D’Farmers Market Davao Durian Restaurant
D’Farmers Market opened with no doors in 2003, when Larry Miculob decided it was time to give his roaming durian business a proper home.
Davao City was a different place in 2003. Pryce Street was a quiet oasis where coconut palms still swayed and provided dappled shade for Larry’s guests. It was a place where you could slow down, rest, enjoy your durian, and know you were safe.
Safety has long been a concern in the Philippines. With a school on one end and the Pryce building and bank on the other, the street was bookended by guards to protect his guests from snatch thieves and terrorists with the New People’s Army.
It’s definitely easier to relax over some delicious D when you know you are safe.
Even though Davao City has grown, somehow D’Farmers Market still manages to a be a quiet(er) haven tucked behind two of the busiest, most jeepnee-clogged throughways, J.P. Laurel Street and F. Torres Street.
Getting there is it’s own kind of overheated insanity, but once you turn onto Pryce Road, you know you’ve made it to Durian Heaven.
The swaying coconut palms may be gone, but D’Farmers Market is housed in a large, airy building with plenty of seating and rotating fans. After the intense sunlight, it can feel cave-like until your eyes adjust.
During Madayaw Festival, we’ve used it as a venue for talks, presentations, and even movie nights with durian-as-popcorn.
About D’Farmers Market Durian
D’Farmers Market is a farm-to-table durian restaurant in downtown Davao City, Philippines, owned and overseen by Larry, who is notorious among the farmers of his district for being fussy with quality. He buys durian from his neighbors as well as sourcing directly from his own farm. I attended a meeting with some of the farmers he regularly buys from, and they all complained that his quality control was so strict they could hardly sell any to him.
It was music to my ears. I really appreciate good quality, and Larry does too. It’s why I like to buy durian at D’Farmer’s Market.
The other reason is that Larry is in durian for passion. He likes to eat durian.
He was actually an accountant by trade before his durian appetite drove him to starting his own farm. Looking back, he estimates that during the season he would spend about half his income to eat durian. It was a serious problem that concerned his family.
So in 1992 he purchased a parcel of land in Barangay Wangan part of Calinan District, just inland from Davao City about 45 minutes. He planted it out with durian, hoping to sate his appetite with a career-change, but a drought struck and within 6 months all his infant trees were dead.
He had to replant, but this time he was determined not to lose his trees, so he installed a novelty — an irrigation system.
If that’s not a labor of love, I don’t know what is. And Larry’s is a beautiful success story where passion and hard work wins over challenges.
Today, Larry is the chairman of the Durian Industry Council of Davao City (DICDC) and the spokesman for durian growers of Davao. He was the first to build a durian-freezing and export facility in the Philippines, and the first to ship his durian to other countries.
Today, you can buy his Puyat variety in Japan and also to a shop in Singapore called 101 Fruits (so if you see Puyat there, you’ll know it’s Larry’s).
But it’s obviously not as good as if you buy Puyat fresh and tree-dropped straight from D’Farmers Market. But really, if you visit D’Farmers Market you should go for his house specialties. He has almost all the popular Davao varieties.but a few of his durians are really something to write home about.
Here’s a quick rundown of Arancillo, Swarscoff, Kob White, or the very rare old-tree Para Sa Parit that you should definitely try when you visit D’Farmer’s Market.
Make sure to check out the Guide to Philippines Durian Varieties.
Puyat is the main commercial durian variety in the Davao region and the one that Larry uses to export. Typically only one durian variety is selected for export per country (Musang King for Malaysia, Monthong for Thailand) in order to meet export standardization regulations, and for the Philippines, someone chose Puyat.
Larry picks his Puyat for export but lets them drop by demand, so let him know if you want a tree-dropped Puyat. They’re a totally different ballgame… (the one above is tree-dropped) and while I Do.Not.Like. cut Puyat I find a tree-dropped Puyat to be smooth, bitter butter. Delicious.
Arancillo was my first true love with durian. It was the first variety I ever tasted fresh, back in 2010 when I visited the Philippines for the first time, and it continues to be among my top 10 favorite varieties. It will always have a place in my heart (and my stomach 😂).
Arancillo is a pale yellow durian with very fine wrinkles when it’s from an old tree and a luscious bitterness with just a hint of whiskey-sweet. I think Larry’s Arancillo is usually pretty exceptional.
Swarscoff is a rare breed. There aren’t that many of them, and few people know their story. Larry was one of the people to name it back in the early 1990’s, when he was working on the Hijo Plantation where the Swarscoff tree was born.
It’s a funky, ferocious durian with super curved spines and exaggerated, humped sections. The way it looks actually reminds of of a Kob Lep Yiao from Thailand. The inside is a pale salmon-orange too, the sections a little flattened, with a tendency to streak grey. The flavor is delicate, a cream and berry wine, and I swear Swarscoff’s parent tree must have been a Kob Lep Yiao. Nobody knows, but the similarities are striking.
If you’re a Kob Lep Yiao fan (Jamian, I’m thinking of you)
This fleshy monstrosity is not usually my style, but I really can’t resist a D’Farmers Kob White. They’re so…not sweet. Each pod is massive, encased in a thick skin that’s just a little bit crunchy and hides how melting-soft the interior flesh is until you reach in and it just falls apart.
Even if the flavor ranges toward the mild side of bitter, the aftertaste is 10/10, with a lovely mellow coffee and toffee flavor that you can sit and savor for ages.
Durian Sa Pari – “Durian For the Priest”
Larry’s signature durian has a name that only makes sense in a Catholic country . “Durian for the Priest” is a durain so good you can break every rule about taking durian into indoor places and leave at the altar as a gift for the priest. It’s D’Farmer’s Market’s signature durian, and you can’t find it anywhere else.
When really fresh, it has a super gassy, sulfuric odor and a sticky texture. It’s quite a strong durian, but isn’t pure bitter — it’s also sweet, like a strong tasting toffee. Since Larry considers it a “premium” durian, and he only has one tree, the price is always 20%-30% higher than others. You’ll also have to reserve it in advance, but if you’ve gone to the effort of coming to Davao for durian, why not go all the way and reserve some of the best durian too?
How to Get to D’Farmers Market Davao Durian Restaurant
D’Farmers Market is located near Victoria Plaza and Frog Kaffee on a small side street called Pryce Road that connects to a big, busy thoroughfare called F. Torres Street and J.P. Laurel Avenue.
9 AM- 9PM Every Day All Year
Except Maundy Thursday (Christian holiday), Good Friday, Easter, Christmas & New Years Day
Tel: 09985415131 /0822254861
Email: [email protected]
Use this Philippines Durian Hunting Map to find D’Farmer’s Market, or navigate to other Philippines durian farms, stalls, markets, and points of interest.