The words “Durian Ice Cream” caught Richard’s eye the moment we entered the small village of Dan Mai on the east coast of Koh Chang Island.
We usually assume that, as vegans, durian ice cream is off limits — but that never stops Richard from hoping. We always look at durian ice creams, just in case.
Plus the cafe was nearby an organic farm I’d been trying to get in touch with for years.
So we stopped by to chat with the cheerful cafe manager, Mr. Apinop, and lo and behold — not only was the ice cream vegan, it was made of 100% locally grown Koh Chang coconut milk and organic Chanee durians from the nearby farm.
Best Vegan Durian Ice Cream Ever.
About Keeribunchorn Durian Farm & Cafe
The Durian Ice Cream shop sits in front of a driveway leading to a small farm behind.
It’s definitely a cooperative team.
Three years ago, Mr. Apinop opened the small coffee shop and cafe to front a shop selling agricultural equipment and local goods like mattresses and towels.
He used to live in Chiang Mai, which is where he first became interested in growing vegetables hydroponically and organically grown fruits and vegetables.
When he learned that his new neighbor, Mr. Manop, grew organic durians AND organic coffee AND organic coconuts, the two began talking.
Organic Durian Farming
Twenty-two years ago, Mr. Manop was working at the Agricultural Bank on Koh Chang Island. He decided to buy an old durian farm and convert it into a model organic farm to show other farmers on Koh Chang a healthier way of growing food that wouldn’t expose them to harmful pesticides and agro-chemicals.
He named his farm Suan Kireebunchorn, in honor of the historic war elephant that King Taksin the Great rode in 1767 when he freed Thailand from the Burmese invasion in 1767, because he wanted to inspire Thai farmers to fight against debt.
Since Koh Chang is literally “Elephant Island” it made sense to go with an inspirational pachyderm.
But it was a little early for the organic movement, and most farmers didn’t want to listen to Mr. Manop’s style.
“People didn’t like my kind of farm,” he says. “They want to make money. This kind of farm, it’s not easy make money. And it’s messy.”
But Mr. Manop persisted, planting an mixed understory of robusta coffee trees, passionfruits, mangosteen, rose apples, longkongs, and other low growing trees, like Averrhoa bilimbi, known in Thai as ตะลิงปิง Daling Pling, which is used as a souring agent in salads and soups.
With the help of a new farm manager, Thom, Manop also implemented his own organic compost teas.
One of the sheds is home to these funky smelling, bubbling brews that are kept aerated, like wine, to promote aerobic bacterial growth and fermentation.
Inside each bucket is a fine mix of cut grasses, fruit scraps, and elephant dung from the island’s Elephant Sanctuary.
When the teas are ready, they are mixed with water and sprayed on the trees through the irrigation system.
And it seems to be working. Kireebunchorn’s durians are some of the finest, stickiest, nuttiest durians you’ll find on the island.
Organic Chanee Durian
The durian trees on Suan Kireebunchorn are really old. They were there before Mr. Manop bought the farm 22 years ago. Today the farm has 53 Chanee trees at least 30 years old.
And people are finally starting to appreciate them.
On the day we visited, most of his organic durians were pre-ordered and on their way to Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and other parts of Thailand by Courier Mail Service.
Manop’s farm manager, Thom, was busy in the orchard assisting with the harvest.
Like everywhere in Thailand, the durians in Kireebunchorn were mostly harvest — i.e. cut off the tree. But Thom and Manop wait until the first durians have started falling to cut the rest.
This means that, unlike the rest of Thailand where durians are cut up to 10 days before they would naturally drop on their own, these durians were cut just a day or two before they would naturally fall. And you can really taste the difference in a mature-cut durian and a pre-mature cut durian.
Because of this method, they always have some tree-fallen durian as well — but they don’t think it’s really worth anything.
But I would pay a pretty penny for this density of Chanee. It’s the same amazing quality as durian in Penang, so if you’re a durian snob you know what I’m talking about.
But for now, all the tree-fallen durian gets frozen into — you guessed it — amazing quality organic vegan durian ice cream!
Vegan Durian Ice Cream
Three years ago, when Mr. Apinop opened his shop, Mr. Manop got the idea to use his tree-fallen durians to make ice cream.
He blends the durian flesh with fresh coconut milk from local Koh Chang trees into delicious little buckets of ice cream. Each one is single serve, and if you’re like me and Richard, you’ll need at least two. Each.
Follow our recommendation: get one of the durian ice cream, and one of the coffee ice cream, made from the coffee bushes interplanted with the durian. It’s a match made in heaven.
But I’d honestly love to try a pure durian-flesh ice cream someday. To me using coconut milk in ice cream is kind of like putting bananas in smoothies — once the banana is in there, that’s all I can taste. The flavor is just really dominant for me.
The coconut milk gives the ice cream a smooth butteriness I am not sure could be achieved with pure durian flesh. It’s really good quality vegan ice cream, a surprise find for a tiny little shop in Dan Mai!
How To Get To Kireebunchorn Organic Durian Farm
Keereebanchara Organic Durian Farm is in Dan Mai Village, on the east coast of Koh Chang Island.
This area is far from the main tourist areas, so unless you are staying overnight in Dan Mai village, you will need your own transportation.
Motorbikes can easily be rented at most hotels or hostels for around ฿200 per day. Be aware that the road in Koh Chang is shaped like a “U” — each long side extending along the east and west coasts and meeting at the ferry on the north shore.
Use the map below to navigate straight to Durian Ice Cream heaven!
The Cafe is open from 8AM to 6PM every day, even when it’s not durian season.
How to Mail Order:
You can order durian via Courier Mail Service to any place in Thailand via their Facebook Page: Kireebunchorn Facebook