Durian Hunt

Gertak Sanggul Fishing Stage (美湖海鲜钓鱼休闲中心) is an artificial fishing pond at Gertak Sanggul, a usually-serene village in the southwestern corner of Penang Island. Today, this leisure spot is the venue of a Durian Hunt event organized by PG Food Hunter A Team (槟城美食探索A队).
Gertak Sanggul Fishing Stage boasts a pond roughly an acre in size. Palm trees and attap-thatched huts provide shade for fishing hobbyists. Visitors are billed by the hour with three hours minimum.
There are several larger gazebos with ceiling fans. These amenities provide the perfect spot for the Durian Hunt event today. In fact, the business owner has graciously allowed the group to use his premises at no charge.
This marks the second major event organized by this group. The group's logo has been modified slightly since the last event at Midland Court.
As for the durians, it is all-you-can-eat buffet style. Due to the large turnout for this event, the price is negotiated at RM30.00 per person.
While waiting for the durians to arrive from the nearby orchard, rambutans and mangosteens are also available in free-flow style. These fruits are traditionally believed to neutralize "heatiness" caused by durian consumption.
Due to the large number of avid durian lovers, the durians have to be delivered in several batches.
There are a number of different types of durian cultivars available, such as Ang Haer (红虾), Hor Loh (葫芦), Che Poi (青皮), Kun Poh Ang (坤宝红) and Cho Chun Ang (朱春红).
Today's event is officiated by YB. Teh Lai Heng, State Assemblyman for Komtar. The group, over 40,000 strong now, has been gaining momentum in government recognition recently.
The co-founder behind this group, Joeson Khor, serves as the emcee and coordinator of this event. Once the durian station is set up, Joeson gives the green light to start the gluttony!
Opening durians with bare hands is difficult. But not everyone is comfortable wielding a parang (machete) either. Fortunately, we have some mechanical tools at our disposal.
Durians are typically opened from the bottom because this is where the fruit splits easily. This durian opener essentially wedges a wooden stake at the durian's weakest spot. A hole at the base keeps the durian firmly in place.
Amused by how this handy gadget works, YB. Teh renders his service by helping to open durians for the long queue of hungry durian enthusiasts. Speaking of serving the people with his bare hands...
Due to the large crowd, each person in the line has to make do with whatever durian breed is available during his/her turn. With many online friends and newly-met friends today, it is easy to share around to try different varieties.
Certain cultivars have firmer flesh and but are usually paler in color. These durians tend to come in larger sizes.
Several other breeds are smaller in nature, but the flesh is more yellowish and has a creamy texture. Sometimes, there is also a pleasant bitter aftertaste. I personally prefer these types of durians.
Although most durians are round, there occasionally abnormal shapes such as this one which resembles buttocks.
Usually, an abnormal shape causes the durian to pack less flesh. In fact, there is only one fruit per compartment for this instance.
I am fortunate enough to sample the famed Ang Haer (红虾), a signature cultivar of Penang. The fruit is particularly fragrant and solid-yellow in color. The seeds are very small, which means the fruit is mostly rich, creamy flesh!
A bottle of nutmeg juice (豆蔻水) is provided to each person courtesy by the durian orchard owner. The drink typically sells for RM2.00 per bottle in the market.
More expensive durian cultivars such as Musang King (猫山王) and Or Chi (黑刺) are not included in the general buffet, but they are available at discounted rate of RM30.00 per kilogram.
In addition, the orchard owner also introduced an incoming durian breed: Rose (玫花). The flesh has a glaring yellow hue. I did not have the opportunity to sample this one because it is premium grade and there are not many to go around.
To spice things up, there is also a raffle event for five lucky winners. The prizes are several of these more expensive durian varieties.
RM30.00 is an affordable price to pay for the quality of durians today. The benefit of feasting in a large group is the opportunity to try different varieties at once. Overall, the event is enjoyable and very satisfying to my palate.
Address: 388, Mk. 8, Gertak Sanggul, 11910 Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-649-1812
Business hours: 6:00pm-12:00am, closed on Wednesdays