A friend of a friend of a friend told us we needed to go visit Mr. Lo to taste the best Lawas durian farm.
So one fine day in early December, a hungry group of us durian munchers traveled to the small town of Lawas, in northern Sarawak.
Waiting for us was something pretty special.
“This is the biggest Dalit Oren I’ve ever seen,” I said to Mr. Lo.
“That’s not Dalit” Mr. Lo said. “That’s Suluk King!”
How Mr. Lo planted Suluk King
Mr. Lo Su Dat is one of the rare durian lovers in Lawas who decided to plant an actual durian orchard.
Most people have durian trees, sure. But just one or two or three, planted by their grandparents or by an accidental seed plot.
Mr. Lo also inherited a durian orchard from his grandfather.
But in the 1990’s, he decided to actually commit to planting durian like a real crop, like palm oil or bananas or things you can sell.
So Mr. Lo hired an official at the Limbang/Lawas Department of Agriculture (DoA) to come to his farm and graft some of the durian varieties then recommended for commercial success.
It may be the first Lawas durian farm.
All About Suluk King
Along with Tekkah and D101 (actually D168, but that’s another story), the DoA guy brought along a new Durio graveolens x Durio zibethinus hybrid registered as Suluk 3 but known by locals as Suluk King.
Unlike regular Durio graveolens, Suluk King was BIG, weighing up to 2.5kg.
It has an oblong shape, more like a regular Durio zibethinus, but the color wasn’t more yellowy-pale like other hybrid varieties. It was a deep, bright startlingly warning-sign orange.
And the edible portion (flesh you can eat instead of shell) was a whopping 20%, putting it in the league of other commercial varieties.
Except more peanut-buttery and sticky, with that crazy wild funk.
In the 1990’s, they weren’t sure whether or not hybrids of Durio graveolens could be grafted onto any regular Durio zibethinus rootstock.
So Mr. Lo agreed to let his farm be a test plot for Suluk King. It worked, obviously, since Suluk King can now be found throughout Lawas and Limbang on other farms too.
How to Identify Suluk King
Suluk King is a grafted variety, which means it’s technically a clone.
You can easily spot Suluk King in markets by its larger size and oblong shape with a pointy bottom (durian does not stand up right but lies on its side).
The skin blushes yellow early in the durian’s ripening process, meaning this is a case where you don’t need to avoid yellow-skin durians.
It has a very short stem, just like it’s parent durian — Dalit Oren.
Dalit is the local name in Lawas for Durio graveolens.
Dalit Oren is the obvious wild parent of Suluk King, but it’s different. For one, its shape is round, not oval. The flesh varies from pale orange to brilliant orange, but is thinner than Suluk King. There’s less to eat on a Dalit Oren.
But remember that people have been eating Dalit Oren for a very long time, and selecting their favorites for a very long time, so Mr. Lo has some really good, thick and sticky varieties as well.
Suluk King & Dalit were so amazing I wanted to maintain my focus, I really did.
But there was Tekkah.
And not just any Tekkah. It’s possible that Mr. Lo’s Tekkah is better than the Tekkah you can get on mainland Malaysia.
Every mouthful sent a shocking zing of numbing bitter cream. We loved the Suluk King, but in the end it’s the Tekkah that I’m thinking about right now as I write this.
Along with Tekkah, Mr. Loh planted D123, a variety of Chanee then popular in mainland Malaysia and widely recommended by the Department of Agriculture.
It’s a hefty boy, super-super fleshy, falling-apart in your fingers and so metallic and bitter it almost burns. It was also so good, I kept scooping Tekkah and then D123 and then Suluk in a confusing circle of delicious indecision.
The last durian we tried was a bit of a surprise — Hor Lor — brought to Borneo from Penang.
We ate it in the wrong order, as Mr. Loh pulled it out of a basket just as we were winding up our feast and ready to the snooze button on our full bellies.
Thick and very sweet, Hor Lor has a lot in common with the texture of Suluk King but without that nostril-clearing ethyl alcohol.
If we’d started on Hor Lor, we would have been super impressed. But, over-stuffed on Suluk King, Tekkah and Chanee, we barely had room to enjoy.
How to Visit Mr. Lo’s Suluk King Durian Farm
Mr. Lo has three farms, but the only accessable by normal car (not a 4×4) is nearby the airport. You will find the location on the map below ↓↓↓.
Mr. Lo is often busy, but welcomes visitors to his farm. He has requested I don’t publish his phone number on the internet, but if you want to arrange a trip to his farm just email me at [email protected]
If you want to check whether or not Mr. Lo has durians available, use our new handy-dandy Durian Hunting App!
This year (2019), his season will start at the end of December and extend through early February.