Now you can have your durian... and drink it too at Men’s Kitchen

The four men behind Men’s Kitchen: (from left, front row) David Loh and Baxter Tan; behind them are Ben Loo and Cheah Gim Hooi. — Picture by KE Ooi
The four men behind Men’s Kitchen: (from left, front row) David Loh and Baxter Tan; behind them are Ben Loo and Cheah Gim Hooi. — Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 9 — Durian season may be over, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait till next year to indulge in the smooth, sweet and pungent king of fruits.

Four friends decided to freeze the fruit when it was in season and use it to make a variety of durian-based sweet and savoury snacks.

Forget durian-flavoured ice cream, durian-flavoured cake or those manufactured durian-flavoured snacks. At Men’s Kitchen, it is all about freshly-made sweet and savoury snacks with a twist, all using the thick creamy flesh from a mix of Musang King and D24 durians.

The newly-opened cafe along Armenian Street, that took up the ground floor space of the Asia Camera Museum, has over 10 different types of durian desserts and savouries.

That’s not all: They also have a thick, smooth durian latte which is almost like drinking puréed durians complemented perfectly by a hint of coffee.

The cafe is opened and managed by Cheah Gim Hooi, David Loh, Ben Loo and Baxter Tan. Though not professionally trained in the kitchen, all four love to cook and experiment with new recipes.

Cheah and Tan are in charge of baking up a storm to create concoctions such as durian creme brûlée, ice fire durian roll, durian pudding, durian spring roll, durian Portuguese tarts, durian wantan and durian muffins.

A durian bun (bottom), durian creme brulee (top) and durian Portuguese tart. — Picture by KE Ooi
A durian bun (bottom), durian creme brulee (top) and durian Portuguese tart. — Picture by KE Ooi

Meanwhile, Loh and Loo take care of other recipes such as handmade ramen dishes and chicken lor bak for those who prefer something other than durian-based desserts and snacks.

“Currently, we are still experimenting with ramen recipes but for now, we have smoked duck noodles, kimchi noodles and dry minced chicken noodles for those who do not want durian desserts and snacks,” Cheah said.

Their main signature item is the ice fire durian roll which is a light and airy pastry that is deep fried to a nice crunchiness and filled with soft, fragrant cold durian that “bursts” into your mouth with each bite.

They also make their own durian kaya so if you want something light, they have crunchy breadsticks to dip into the durian kaya.

“We use mostly natural ingredients in all of our food, we don’t use artificial flavourings and even in our drinks, we try not to use sugar but replace it with stevia,” Cheah said.

Baxter Tan takes freshly baked pastries out of the oven. — Picture by KE Ooi
Baxter Tan takes freshly baked pastries out of the oven. — Picture by KE Ooi

All durians used in their ingredients are also sourced locally.

The cafe has a colourful sweet drink called the Doraemon Tea which is a pretty three-layer drink of blue, white and pink. The colours are made from natural ingredients such as pea flower and beetroot.

They also offer several different types of drinks, all sweetened by stevia, such as pandan tea, lemongrass tea and blue peaflower tea.

Cheah said they do not use durian essence in any of their desserts and most are prepared fresh upon each order.

“We don’t like to prepare a lot to display at the counter so we usually prepare a small batch and then make more as and when there are more orders,” he said.

The light and airy ice fire durian roll (front), durian spring roll and breadsticks with durian kaya dip in the background. — Picture by KE Ooi
The light and airy ice fire durian roll (front), durian spring roll and breadsticks with durian kaya dip in the background. — Picture by KE Ooi

Another signature item is their chicken drumstick lor bak which is a departure from the conventional pork lor bak. Tender, juicy chicken drumstick meat is seasoned then wrapped in bean curd skin before it is deep-fried to a nice brown crispiness.

“We use only chicken drumstick meat so our lor bak is crispy on the outside and tenderly soft and juicy on the inside,” Cheah said.

All four men are also tour guides and this venture into the food and beverage industry is their way to create another tourist attraction within the Heritage Zone.

They felt that there is a strong demand for durians and food made from durians so opening the cafe is the best way to promote local durians, while at the same time, allowing visitors and locals alike to enjoy durians any time of the year.

Men’s Kitchen

71, Armenian Street, 10200 George Town, Penang

Tel: 04-251 9945

Time: 10am-6pm

The making of a durian Portuguese tart. — Picture by KE Ooi
The making of a durian Portuguese tart. — Picture by KE Ooi