Many people in Sarawak sell durian along the main roads during the season, usually in tied-up piles (ikat) or loose piles (tompok). One of the few places (maybe the only place) where you can sit-down to have a comfortable durian meal at a durian-stall-type setting, ala Peninsular Malaysia, is Madam Ting’s just 5km outside of Limbang City.
Watch the video ↓↓
Madam Ting’s is one of the largest orchards in the area, planted with a combination of mainland Peninsular varieties popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s, as well as local Limbang specialty wild durian hybrids like Suluk, Surut, and wild Durio graveolens.
About Madam Ting and her Farm
Madam Ting’s durian shack and stall sits on the AH150 highway, the main road running between Limbang and Brunei and further all the way south to Kuching, if you have an extra few days for driving. Her house and 12-acre farm are just behind the shack, and you can see the massive old trees towering over their fence from the road.
Madam Ting’s husband started planting the durian trees 28-years ago, and 5 years later he and his wife finished the house and moved onto the property.
Madam Ting says he was the durian lover. He traveled all over the place collecting durian varieties that were popular 28 years ago.
Mister Ting collected the durian trees from as far away as Penang and Johor. He bought trees in Kota Kinabalu, and also in Kuching. Some of them, like D93, he got from the Kai Nguong Nursery in Miri. Others, like the two Durio graveoelens x zibethinus hybrids he calls Suluk and Surut, he got from the Department of Agriculture’s station in Ukong (now closed).
He’s kept the trees labeled, and now has an interesting collection of old varieties from Peninsular Malaysia like D2, Tekkah, D101/Johor Mas (D168), D118 Gold Fish, as well as the local Durian Kuning, the hybrids, and D93, Sarawak Pride.
View this post on Instagram
Getting ready to post my favorite Durians of 2018! The tastiest, the most unusual or exciting (to me 😁) and some of the places I most recommend you put on your durian map this year 🗺📍🚶♀️😋 In the meantime I'm gonna start reposting some clips from my Insta Stories this past year! This is a major time of reflection for me and I'm definitely thinking about all the places I experienced and friends I shared durian with last year. Enjoy this little jaunt into the past📽😊
It’s an unusual collection for this area, which is maybe why her durians are kind of expensive.
All of the varieties sold for RM20-30 per kg, which is nothing compared to the RM60-80 you can pay for Musang King or Black Thorn on the mainland, but still. My wallet was hurting a little after 2 makan sessions with friends.
We didn’t get to talk with Mister Ting. We caught sight of him, briefly, as he passed through the driveway to the main house. If he was a durian lover, he wasn’t one to share or sell the durian.
The durian stall is Madam Ting’s domain, and the farm belongs to her main worker, Mr. Bakri. So if you want to reserve particular varieties, you’ll need to call him.
Suluk (Durio graveolens x zibethinus)
This ultra-spiky durian immediately caught my attention. It’s pretty common in Limbang, and easy to identify with it’s pronounced, daisy-like lobes, huge spikes, dark green color, pointy bottom, and dried flower still attached to the stem.
It looks the same whoever is selling it, so I knew it must be a grafted variety. But it’s also definitely a hybrid of the orange-fleshed Durio graveolens with zibethinus.
The gorgeous pastel orange flesh is ultra soft and smooth, not like the pasty Graveolens, but somehow it retains it’s stickiness and body even when the fruits are getting kind of old. The flavor is like milked-down coffee and berry syrup, and it actually reminded me a lot of a Kun Poh in Penang.
According to the Agricultural Department, this variety of Suluk (and there are many) was known as Suluk Haji Lamat, originating from Kampung Teragai on Kubong Road. You know where I’m off to next — to look for the mother tree and Mr. Haji Lamat. Stay tuned for that adventure!
I’ve never seen or tasted a durian like this, before or since. It caught my eye immediately for its unusual oblong shape, small dense, very sharp spines, and bright yellow color. Unlike the flower-like Suluk, its lobes were hidden, giving it a perfectly round shape.
The same spines were the same shape as Durio graveolens, but both the color and the shape of the fruit was wrong. I couldn’t imagine what it would like like inside, so the excitement of cracking it open was breath-holding.
Inside, it was actually kind of ugly. The flesh color was an off-white-yellow, patchy and kind of pasty-looking. It didn’t really look all that appetizing.
But looks can be deceiving, because this was my favorite durian at Madam Ting’s and maybe in Limbang.
The flesh was super super super sticky, super dense. It tasted like peanut butter, no joke, with that light acid zing of the wild durians. I was in love, and we quickly ordered another, even though at RM30 per kilo the price of this durian was no joke!
I suspect that it’s a hybrid of yellow-flesh Durio graveolens and Durio zibethinus, although I really have no clue for this one!
Of the durians from Peninsular Malaysia growing on Madam Ting’s farm, Tekkah was definitely the best (to my taste). I’m always a Tekkah fan-girl, especially when it overcomes it’s weird herby-sweetness to settle into a chocolatey, bitter, pungent, gassy round taste that fills your mouth with its rich, saturated, buttery texture.
We did notice that not all her fruits seemed to ripen properly, so we had to be careful selecting ourselves by feeling for weight and checking for the oomph-smell that denotes a fresh, gaseous durian.
But compared to the D101 and D2 (both worth a miss) the Tekkah was fantastic.
D118 Ikan Mas (Gold Fish)
Ikan Mas, or Gold Fish, is a really unusual, old variety that’s hard to find in Peninsular Malaysia these days. We’ve only found it a couple of times, so I was happy to find it here in Limbang so I could compare the spikes and verify the characteristics of the variety.
It’s a really tasty durian. Yes, it looks like a massive durian, the shell is super big and heavy and there isn’t *that* much flesh. I wish there was more of it, because I really like it. The flesh is smooth and has a whipped texture, with the rosey-berry coffee notes of a Kun Poh or a Little Red. If you like berry, slightly sour coffee (like Richard) you will like this durian.
Ikan Mas was maybe her best Durio zibethinus, so if you’re headed to Madam Ting’s look for this one!
More Notes on Madam Ting’s
Madam Ting’s is a well-known spot for better quality durian than is generally available in Limbang.
We noticed that every time she brought out a fresh batch, it was quickly snapped up by cars from Brunei who would pass by and purchase box loads to take home across the border, where durians are a lot more expensive.
The result is that what’s left at the stall is not that good quality. The Suluks do an amazing job of still tasting good even when the durians are obviously a day or two old, but we still thought the super fresh ones were way tastier — stickier, zingier, oomphier, a tiny bit bitter — than the old ones, which were a little bit watery and sweeter.
So to get the best quality, make sure to reserve in advance or come around 5PM.
We also noticed that her staff really didn’t have much skill or care in picking durians. They couldn’t tell when a durian was completely unripe and hard inside, or full of caterpillar frass, or overripe. At RM30 per kg, it’s no joke to get served crappy durian.
So make sure to choose the durians yourself using the tips on this website and in my durian guide books.
How to get to Madam Ting’s
Madam Ting’s is just on the AH150 main road that runs all the way through Brunei to Kuching in the south part of the state. Her stall is pretty easy to find, especially if you use the map below to find the pin.
The best time to come to Madam Ting’s is after 4PM, but be on time because the sun sets around 6PM and then you’ll lose the pretty light for photos. And you don’t want to miss the opportunity for photos.