The Ghim Moh area is famous for its hawker centre: Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre. It was first opened in 1978 and was relatively quiet for its first two decades of its existence despite the impressive 72 food stalls present that caters to the small housing estate of Ghim Moh and nearby Holland Village.
The centre started to gain popularity when the research and development centre Biopolis opened in 2003. This resulted in long queues and insane crowds during peak lunch hours.
For durian lovers, the name that comes to mind immediately is Ah Seng Durian Ghim Moh Market which is arguably one of the most famous durian sellers in Singapore. It takes up three to four stalls in the fruit section of the market and has a very systematic way of dealing with the flow of customers.
However, there are also other durian sellers in the vicinity that you might choose to patronise instead as the products at Ah Seng Durian are usually sold out very early due to people who made a reservation in advance, so you might not be able to get your hands on the best quality durians and have to settle for lesser.
Especially if you are a tourist, you might only have one chance to get a good try at one of Singapore’s local delights so here are five tips on how to avoid being scammed when buying durian:
1. Know the differences between the types of durian in Ghim Moh
More often than not, Thai durians are incorrectly labeled as “Musang King ” which is one of the most expensive varieties or a D13 is mistakenly labelled as “Black Thorn”. At times, it’s made on purpose and sometimes it’s not.
Some of the durian sellers, especially those who are younger, lack the experience of differentiating the types of durians. Therefore, it is better if you take the responsibility of knowing your durian yourself.
2. Don’t be tricked by the different varieties of durian which are actually the same
It has become increasingly common to sell different “grades” of durian based on its quality. This is commonly practiced for durians that used to be expensive like Musang King, which are now over-produced leading to a decrease in price and quality.
In Singapore, the Musang King can be labelled with all sorts of pompous names such as “Black Gold” or “King of Kings” that gives it the right to be more expensive than a regular “Musang King”. The grading system differs each day and depends on the seller, which makes it highly unreliable.
3. Be aware of the price before opening any durians
Sometimes the durian seller will act in a rush and suggest a variety of durian to you. Before you agree to opening it, he will give it a few quick chops and twist it open. The seller will then claim that the durian belongs to you and you have to pay for it.
Thus, always be sure to get the price per kg and the total price of each durian before any of them are open or preferably, even picked out.
4. Avoid durians with trimmed-up stems
Check out the stems and assess if it’s dried out and old or fresh and plump? It gives you an indication of how much oxidation has taken place, which implies how long the durian has been off the tree.
Sometimes the durian sellers in Ghim Moh will manipulate what the stem looks like by chopping it off entirely or remove the oxidised brown parts away to reveal more green and make the durian appear fresher. If the durian seller is doing tricks like these, it is advisable to leave and spend your money elsewhere.
5. Avoid durians with yellow powder on the stems
Sometimes, if the durian has been artificially ripened using chemicals such as Ethephon, the durian stems will be painted with a yellow substance. This is commonly found in durian stalls that sell durians all year round, regardless of the season.
These durians will not have the same pungent bitterness as a tree-ripened fruit and have an uneven texture.
Moving on to the payment process, these are the average costs you would normally observe for durians in Singapore.
Cost of MSW Across Durian Stalls (June 2019)
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