“In a truck durians look like a cheap thing,” Mr. Yut told us, waving a gloved hand at the tidy shelves of durian on red cloth. “On the shelf, it looks like a nice thing.”
Outside the shop, motorbikes roared through the intense May heat. I sat on a stool in the cramped shade and leaned back against a wall while the news reporters from Agencia Efe tried to find the space to video Mr. Yut while he explained the history of shop and the culture of eating durian in Bangkok.
The video: Mr Yut’s Bangkok Durian Shop
Mr. Yut’s shop starts at 1:15 in the video belong by Agenica Efe. It’s all in Spanish, but I speak in English.
Sharing this shop with Gaspar and his translator was a good way to celebrate what may be a momentous shift in Bangkok.
Mr. Yut’s may be one of the very first indoor Bangkok durian shops.
First Bangkok Durian Restaurant in Bangkok
Mr. Yut used to sell durian out of the back of a lorry-truck at one of the night markets. Somehow, that’s the norm for durian sellers in Thailand.
The seller has a single large knife, selects the durian for you, and slices and dices it into styrofoam trays to be taken away and eaten at home. Assuming you live nearby.
In Bangkok, most durians are sold on small push carts that appear on the streets in the late afternoons or evenings, or trucks that back up to the night markets and wait.
Because you better not be taking public transportation. Durian is banned on the Bangkok subways.
And you better not be staying in a hotel, because durian is banned there too.
So unless you live nearby, your only option is to eat your durian standing in the way of foot traffic and the charcoal smoke of the satay cart next door, but who really wants to savour a super-flavorful durian like that?
Every other durian-eating country in the world (Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore) has specialized outdoor restaurants where you can sit down and enjoy the King of Fruit with your friends, comfortable with chairs, tables, water, and a place to wash your hand.
So a few years ago Mr. Yut moved into a permanent indoor shop in Phlapphla sub-district of Wang Thonglang, one of Bangkok’s 50 districts.
His brother, who is an engineer, designed the more sophisticated shelving for him, and he says he can earn 3x more in his new shop than he ever did selling out of the truck.
This year, he sold more than 10,000 durians.
Durians at Mr. Yut’s
Mr. Yut sources durian from all over Thailand and keeps his shop open all year long.
He gets durian from Southern Thailand in the winter, and durian from Northern Thailand in July.
He even gets the early-early season durian that’s induced out of season to supply the China market, in February or early March, but he says the quality isn’t as good.
But since we were there in late May, it was time for a later-season variety: Ganyao.
I was hoping the super rich, thick, peanut-butter-banana-bread durian would impress Gaspar, who told me he didn’t like durian.
Gaspar hesitantly took a small piece. It was better, he admitted, than any durian he’d tried before.
But alas, soaked in sweat and busy with his camera, he didn’t want to eat more.
So Mr. Yut packed up each huge golden piece in a piece of waxed paper and packed it all inside a styrofoam box, which he then placed into a plastic bag.
Sometimes, he told as he worked, families bring him their own durian from their backyards to pack up just like this since they don’t want to open themselves.
It’s a different durian culture in Thailand, for sure.
How to get to Mr. Yut’s Durian in Bangkok
Mr. Yut’s shop is located in the Phlapphla sub-district of Wang Thonglang, one of Bangkok’s 50 districts. It’s definitely a suburb of Bangkok and not all that convenient to get to if you’re a tourist.
I took the BTS Sky Train to Khlong Tan Station and got a taxi from there; however my taxi driver was very confused where I was trying to go to. If you don’t speak Thai, it’s best to bring along your Google Maps so you can find your own way.
Find Mr. Yut on Facebook.