Durian, the spiky, stinky king of tropical fruits, is easy to find around Chinatown. But it’s rarely as user-friendly as it is at the street stall at Grand and Bowery. Hounds say the Vietnamese vendors who work the northwest corner there will pick you a sweet one, crack it open, scoop out the meat, and even vacuum pack it to contain “the delicate aromas of onions and farts hanging in the air,” as big o delicately puts it.
On Mott Street, a couple of blocks west and a step down in service, several fruit vendors peddle whole durians, kobetobiko reports, and they’ll generally open them for you if you ask. But you might have to furnish your own container for the fragrant flesh.
For those not quite ready for full-frontal durian, big o recommends a dessert of durian—cut with coconut milk, lotus seeds, tapioca, and seaweed—at the nearby Vietnamese restaurant Cong Ly. And DaveCook says Bonobo’s, the raw-food place across from Madison Square Park, serves durian custard, a nice way to “dip your toe, durian-wise, before you jump off the deep end.”
Durian vendor [Chinatown]
Grand and Bowery streets, northwest corner, Manhattan
No phone available
Cong Ly [Chinatown]
124 Hester Street (between Chrystie and Bowery streets), Manhattan
18 E. 23rd Street (near Madison Avenue), Manhattan
Board Link: Durian Fruit