When you have a little durian idea, sometimes it grows into a big durian idea. Life can be so surprising! And so has the 8321 Durian Buffet on Penang Island, which has grown from a summer side-gig to a packaged tour partnered with Air Asia.
About 8321 Durian Stall in Batu Ferringhi
I first met Eric Yeap in 2016, when he was operating a small durian stall at the corner of the Petronas in Batu Ferringhi.
He was basically our durian rescue from the awful durian buffet at the fancy Shangri La hotel, which literally left a bad taste in my mouth. We fled, searching for something delicious, and stumbled upon Eric and this beautiful set of Penang-grown Musang King and Hor Lor.
The small stall was just a year old, and filled a very much needed durian void in Batu Ferringhi, Penang’s most popular tourism spot.
I’d tried to set up base camp in Batu Ferringhi in 2014, attracted by the affordable backpacker spots, Airbnbs, and of course the beach, but was disappointed to find almost no durian in the whole city, despite durians growing only a few kilometers further up the coastline.
Eric’s 8321 Durian Stall, replete with massive coconuts and a collection of cempedak varieties, was a fruit oasis that suddenly made Batu Ferringhi a much more appealing option for someone who couldn’t imagine a Penang Holiday without a daily dose of durian.
He usually has two or three varieties of cempedak around too – another Penang favorite – in particular the Durian Cempedak or the Cempedak King (below).
How 8321 Durian Buffet Got Started
Eric was a career tour guide in Penang. He led tours for over 15 years, before opening up his own travel agency, Asia Gateway Tours. He had always liked growing durians and kept them as a side hobby, putting a few trees around his own house.
As he got older, he started getting tired of daily leading tours and thought… why not spend the day on durians?
In 2015, he teamed up with some friends who were durian farmers to open the 8321 Stall in Batu Ferringhi for the length of the durian season.
It was a just a side gig – and he named the stall 8321 in honor of his home address and thought well, maybe this will be interesting.
It was more successful than his wildest dreams.
As a durian seller, he was able to offer a lot of different varieties from his friends farms all at one spot.
On that day in 2016 when we fled Shangri La, he had 21 varieties – although by the time we arrived in the late afternoon they were mostly sold out.
By 2017, the little stall had grown in popularity, and Eric realized it was time to get his own farm supply. He decided to lease an old farm in Teluk Bahang that had some really nice quality durians, mostly older varieties like 600, Kapri, Little Red, and Kun Poh.
Things escalated when the Malaysia Tourism Board approached Eric. They had also noticed the little stall in the Tourist City was becoming popular.
8321 Durian Buffet
They asked him to combine his experience as a tour guide and organizer with his durian knowledge to create various Penang Tour packages that would include a Durian Buffet at his new farm at an incredible bargain price.
Serious, you can easily pay Rm66 for a single durian in Penang, much less a an entire all-you-can-eat buffet.
The key to that bottom-scraping rate is focusing on the older Penang varieties rather than the more famous Black Thorn or Musang King, which are excluded from the Buffet.
If you really, really need a Musang King experience in Penang, you can buy it for an additional rate.
8321 Durian Farm in Teluk Bahang
The old durian farm is located on the roadside of the meandering mountain way between Teluk Bahang and Balik Pulau.
The stall had actually been there for a long time. I recognized it when we drove up one very rainy day to check out Eric’s new place.
He was excited, as the durian season had just started the week previously and guests from China were descending on the farm like hungry locusts.
He warned us to come in between the Buffet timings, to avoid the crowds – and said he would book us something good.
This is what true trust looks like 😂
Since it was only the first week of durian season when we visited, he recommended a 600 – one of the first durians to start falling every year. He said they were really good quality this year.
It had stormed the whole night before, and was still dumping rain when we arrived. I was skeptical that any durian could taste good with this much water coursing into the trees.
600 is actually a seedling of the more famous variety named for Mr. Liew Kun Poh. The story goes that one of his sons, Lew Kee Siong, took a seed of the Kun Poh durian and planted it. He sold it at the local wholesaler, who eventually took it to a contest in 1990 and won a prize.
You can read the rest of the story in The Durian Tourist’s Guide to Penang.
But Eric proved my skepticism wrong! The D600 was great, very smooth and creamy with a mild, flowery, coffee, nutty flavor that to me is the quintessential Penang Durian Flavor.
Since 600 is a Kun Poh seedling, it has the classic Kun Poh seeds – a little bit more brown then most durian seeds, with a the fuzzy-white hylem angled onto one side more than the other.
This is one of the reasons many of us durian nerds wonder if Kun Poh could have some orange Durio graveolens great-great ancestor. Maybe?
Pivoting to Stay-At-Home Delivery
When I spoke to Eric in January, 2020, he was gearing up for an even bigger season. He had a good set of flowering on the trees, and both Air Asia and the Malaysia Tourism Board were pumping out advertisement for Penang Durian.
By end of February, 2020, it was clear that the Global Pandemic and the nationwide lockdown was seriously going to restrict any plans for Durian Tourism this summer.
So when durians started falling in the first week of April, 2020, 8321 became among the first durian farms to advertise at-home deliveries.
Now Eric says they are doing better business than ever, and once again he can’t believe how his little durian dream has changed and grown.
How to Visit 8321 Penang Durian Buffet or 8321 Durian Stall
You can find both the 8321 Durian Farm and the 8321 Stall in Batu Ferringhi on the map below or in our Durian Season App.
You can also order durian for home delivery at any of the contact #’s below:
- 8321 on Facebook
- WhatsApp: 016-434-4263 / 012-300-2091