If you’re reading this blog, you’d probably say hellz Yes! to 25-year-old Musang King durian, right?
Yes orchard is a brand new durian farmstay and durian cafe in Sungai Klau, a tiny town about 30 minutes driving east of Raub Town, Malaysia. They’re opening for their first full season this coming May, 2019, with a full durian menu and, of course, their giant-sized Musang King durian.
The 25-year-old Musang King Durian Orchard
Almost everyone grows Musang King (MSK) these days. But most people only started growing MSK in the last 10 years once it got popular and expensive, meaning the majority of MSK trees are babies.
If you’re a durian snob, you know full well that a baby MSK durian is not worth it the top $$$. And if you’ve got a MSK plot older than 20-years, it’s like owning a gold mine.
So when, four years ago, Mr. Bowie Liang (shown above with his wife) and his partner Mr. Ang found a 9-acre plot with 88 Musang King trees older than 25-years, they said YES.
Mr. Liang had been growing durian for years, and he’d realized that Musang King had a problem. The price.
It was really unstable. How unstable? Consider this: In 2017, the price for MSK topped Rm95 per kilo ($12 USD/pound). In the glut of 2018, the price dropped to just Rm32 per kilo ($8 USD/pound). He knew that if they wanted to convert the orchard to organics (and they did), selling to middle men to export off to China wasn’t going to work.
So they envisioned a different model: A high-quality farm-to-table durian cafe set in the peace of the farm.
Construction of the cafe and farmstay started in 2016, and finished just in time for the December 2018 season, which is when I visited them.
At that time, they were still building the organic vegetable patch to fuel the kitchens. Not everything on the menu was available, but they did whip up a few amazing taste tests for our group to enjoy in the indoor durian cafe that sells both fresh durian and durian-based cuisine.
The Durian Cafe at Yes Orchard
As far as I know, durian-based cuisine is still very much a novelty in Malaysia, making the YES Durian Orchard cafe an innovation.
The menu (download menu here) includes a Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner sections featuring all kinds of durian goodies, from a traditional durian tempoyak fish patin (fermented durian curry) to more modern inventions like durian pizza.
I liked that the menu focuses on fresh ingredients from the garden, so each menu offers plenty of salads. Paku-paki fern salad and sour mango salads are some of my favorite Malaysian dishes.
I also appreciated that they offer some savory durian dishes. Most people just think of durian as a sweet thing, and so durian desserts are a dime a dozen, but durian lends itself beautifully to the creamy part of a curry or some extra sulfur kick to a cheesy dish.
But Yes Orchard also has some durian sweet things as well.
These durian mini tarts came out piping hot with gooey caramel durian centers. My friends said they were quite good, but unfortunately for me durian pastries aren’t friendly toward gluten-sensitive vegans like me.
The day that we visited, there was no one around except us and Mr. Liang. In December, there was a very small durian season, so the cafe was open by appointment only.
The cafe was cool, with sweeping fans overhead and just the sound of a water feature along the back wall. There was plenty of light inside the cafe from the floor-to-ceiling glass walls, while the jagged-shaped teak wood tables were and bamboo gave it a modern yet natural feel.
I don’t know what it would be like should you ever be unfortunate enough to visit at the same time as a Chinese bus tour group. If this is a concern to you, make sure to ask when you make your booking.
The farm grows almost exclusively Musang King, with just 1 D88 tree and 2 old Kampung trees. So the likelihood that you are going to be eating 25-year-old Musang King when you visit is about 96% 🤓
The day that we visited, the two A-grade Musang Kings they had saved for us were enormous, each one about 3kg each.
In my experience, A-grade durians look beautiful and are enormously fleshy. They’re impressive beasts, and expensive too.
It was a gesture of hospitality that I appreciated, but didn’t necessarily like the taste.
A-grade durians can sell at twice the price as their smaller size “B-grade” counter parts, which are lumpy and bumpy and ugly but have that bitter taste and luxurious texture flesh that I desire.
Save the pomp and give me B-grade any day.
But it’s worth keeping in mind that, being bigger, A-grade MSK also has a longer shelf-life and actually needs more time off the tree to develop their full flavor. So if you are eating durian somewhere far away from the farm (like Singapore or China), it might be worth paying extra for the “A.”
But on the farm, the A-grade durians were too fresh. They tasted pasty and Reese’s-Peanut-Butter-Cup sweet until we hit them and banged them and bashed them around a little to bruise, soften, and release their natural bitterness.
The Yes! Orchard Durian Farmstay
The accommodations are on the 3rd floor of the cafe. The second floor is a private lounge/hang out space for guests that greatly appealed to me as a digital nomad. Laptop, durian and that view? Perfect.
There are two simple “tatami” rooms with wooden floors and again, floor-to-ceiling glass walls that put you on level with the hanging durians.
Should one fall you’ll be right in the thick of the action.
However, people who like a private bathroom and don’t want to walk to another building to use the toilet might also prefer a more upscale farmstay like Bilut Hills or The Orchard.
Yes Orchard is definitely something different for this part of Malaysia. It hits a sweet spot between rustic and modern, and if you’re a hipster drawn to nature I think you’ll enjoy the architecture and general ambiance.
Also, finding a vegetarian-friendly and salad-heavy menu is really something unique for Malaysia. As a vegan I really appreciate finding a place I could come and eat a durian luncheon with friends.
However, I think that Yes Orchard might cater more toward Chinese and Singaporean tourists, traveling in big groups and looking for A-grade, affordable Musang King than the solo-backpacker or durian fiend looking for variety as well as quality.
How to get to Yes Orchard
Yes Orchard is located off Highway C140 heading 30-minutes Southeast from Raub Town. Look for the Totoro-like durian logo at the corner of a palm oil plantation. Just a few hundred meters into the palm oil you’ll find the durian cafe.
Use our Malaysia Durian Hunting Map to navigate to Yes Durian Orchard, or discover other durian orchards and durian farmstays nearby. Each pin is linked to a blog post. Happy Hunting!