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Kings of Durian Street

One of the cornerstones of growing up Malaysian is the durian, king of fruits, mortal enemy of sensitive noses. And in PJ, there was one place to go for that pungent, custard-like yellow manna. SS2. We all know the spot.

Text by Vanessa Surian
Photos and Video by Wong Yok Teng

In its heyday, Jalan SS2/24 was known as Durian Street, and five to seven stalls offered a smorgasbord of durian varieties. Competition between the vendors was fierce. But the prices of durians were such that Malaysians could afford to indulge en masse, so there were plenty of customers to go around.

Today, after much upheaval, time has passed, the weather has changed, which has changed the availability of durians that grow locally, supply and demand has fluctuated and traffic woes have plagued the residents of SS2 and been resolved, at least in that specific portion of the city. Only one of the old stalls, called Durian SS2, remains in that same spot.


But the durian saga of SS2 began at a slightly different area, in a field within the neighbourhood.

“Donald’s Durian was started over 20 years ago, by my late husband,” says Cynthia, who now runs the family business. “Now, we carry on his legacy.”

Others like Ah Wai of Durian SS2 and Ah Kwong of King of the King also set up thriving businesses there.

Upon the behest of MBPJ who were looking to conserve the green lung of the park from the effects of thriving commerce, the durian stalls were soon moved to Jalan SS2/24.

“MBPJ gave us a different location, because they wanted to preserve the area,” says Cynthia.


Under the appropriate licenses for operating the stalls, they were joined by the others, and Donald worked with the city to turn it into a tourist attraction.

“We worked together with the tourism board to host reporters from China, to make SS2 known as Durian Street,” says Cynthia. “Donald was also the one who first came up with the ‘all-you-can-eat’ concept.”

It is this durian haven, that lasted for a period of about 8 years, that many of us remember from our childhoods. But the nostalgic spot soon caused too much congestion, and a dearth of parking in the surrounding area. Two years ago, MBPJ had to step in with measures to alleviate the horrendous traffic woes.

In the present day, only one of the original stalls remains there. Ah Wai’s Durian SS2 now rents land from a private company in order to continue a much expanded operation there.

“We had to rent a very big area, because the landowners didn’t want to parcel out the land in small amounts, “ says Ah Wai.

Donald’s Durian is now a brick-and-mortar shop at Jalan 19/29 and Ah Kwong’s King of the King is now located along Jalan Harapan. Ripon, a long-time employee at King of the King explains, “MBPJ suggested this area. Now Ah Kwong owns the shop here.”


Talking about the durian prices today, which can reach levels unheard of in the past, Ah Wai talks about the demand from China.

“In the past, we used to be able to buy durians from the orchards at lower prices. If we bought more, we received bigger discounts, which helped to keep our prices lower. Now, the orchards can sell any durians that we don’t buy for processing and for export to China. So there are no more bulk discounts for us.”

Cynthia explains how recent shifts in weather have changed the production output of the local orchards. “The seasons are different. Our weather affects the growth of the fruits, there are less durians now.”

“We receive our durians from local orchards fresh every day. The prices are also set by the orchard. Supply and demand,” Cynthia says about the rising costs of the succulent fruit. “There was a time when Musang King was RM120 per kg, the supply was low, but it’s the most famous durian that people look for, so the prices go up.”

Durians may once have been a simple indulgence for the family, experienced while sitting at little road-side stalls, but current prices have elevated it into more of a luxury. And Ah Wai has plans to further expand his business in order to embrace that shift.

“We plan to build a second storey, and have an air-conditioned room. I want to give people more of a VIP experience, make it special.”

Scattered to the winds as they may seem, the kings of Durian Street still hawk their wares, proud of the fruits they carefully select for the customers who go to them, seeking that infamous Malaysian delight.