New York chefs no longer turning up their noses at pungent durian

New York chefs no longer turning up their noses at pungent durian
PHOTO: The Straits Times

New York has seen any number of foods, from the Cronut to the rainbow bagel, go from curiosity to craze. Now, is it time to make way for fried durian?

Chef and restaurateur Salil Mehta is hoping so. Despite the infamous reputation of the spiky, odoriferous fruit, he is rolling out the dessert Friday at Laut, his Michelin-honoured Malaysian restaurant in Manhattan's Union Square neighbourhood.

Mr. Mehta believes his new menu offering will be a strong pull for diners even if his wife, Stacey Mehta, won't take a bite.

"She thinks durian is the worst thing possible," he said.

Mr. Mehta is hardly alone in taking durian, typically found throughout Southeast Asia, and finding a place for it on the New York table.

Several restaurants, cafes and even bars are now incorporating the fruit, which Mr. Mehta described as being like a mix of mango and jackfruit (another Southeast Asian favourite), into their menus in a variety of forms.

Mr. Mehta prepares fried durian at Laut.Photo: The Wall Street Journal

Chefs said it may take beginners a bit of effort to get past the telltale smell, which has been likened to everything from rotting garbage to kerosene.

But once they overcome the odour, they will find that the durian has a uniquely sweet taste, with flavour notes of melon and onion, and custard-like texture.

At Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream on the Lower East Side, a durian-banana ice cream has been a customer favourite since the parlour opened in 2014. This winter, a durian-flavored hot chocolate has been added to the menu.

Among the handful of drinking spots embracing durian is the Meatpacking District's Standard Grill, where Gates Otsuji, who heads the bar programme, has crafted a "Snake Charmer" that combines durian with white nectarine, lemon juice and the New York-made Empire Spirits Project NoHo gin, among other ingredients.

Read the full article here.

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