Saturday 7 September 2013

Four Seasons Durians at Takashimaya Basement 1

When I went to collect my medical test results, it turned out that my reactive lymphocyte count was relatively high. The doctor explained that it could have been anything from my body reacting to my molars coming out that day, to lupus. It was basically like Googling symptoms and the internet telling you you're going to die in the next week. 

He suggested we do another round of blood work to make sure it wasn't anything serious, and I assented. But things started to go wrong when right after sticking the needle into my arm, he went "Oh shit." Never a good sign. It basically took him two whole minutes of stabbing and stabbing at the vein before he managed to draw out enough blood, during which my nerves flared up and my vision started whiting out.

When I emerged, lightheaded, annoyed and clutching at the now painfully bruised crook of my elbow, M clucked over me and said "Let's get you some durian pancakes.", which instantaneously cheered me up immensely. 

I first came across these pancakes by Four Seasons Durian sometime in J1, where I'd leave the school when we had two hour breaks between classes and run away to AMK Hub to eat beef noodles (Back then, the Scotts Beef Noodles hadn't moved to Ion yet, and was instead hidden in the far corner of a food court in Ang Mo Kio). There was a massive queue for something that smelled good, and being very Singaporean I joined the line. 

At the end of it was a lady preparing these pancakes as quickly as she could. People were ordering it in boxes of five or ten or twenty. I bought one piece, just to try it. 

After that, I was hooked. Apart from wonderfully trashy tom yam ramen from Ajisen, this is the only thing I get random craving pangs for when I'm overseas. It's the first thing I get, and part of the reason I ask people to meet me in town, or at Takashimaya in particular, is so I can get me some of these. Four Seasons Durians also sells other products like durian puffs and tarts and cakes and puddings, but I've only ever had eyes for the pancakes.  

Durian isn't for everyone. I love it and the way it smells, but BB still thinks it's rank and won't go near the stuff. If I'm in the vicinity and the friend I'm with can stomach it, I steer them towards the stall in the basement. The nice thing about the branch in Taka's basement is that there's never a long queue. 

The pancake skin is freshly cooked on their griddle when you place your order, and once one side is golden brown, they flip it once to cook the other side a little, then flip it back. This makes the outside really crisp, while the inside of the pancake skin has a chewy texture. They'll then spoon out a serving of fresh 100% D24 durian meat onto the centre of the pancake, fold it up and put it into a bag or a box, depending on how many you get. 

The pancake proper
For the purposes of this post, I ordered two pancakes. One to consume immediately, which is the proper way, and one to leisurely snap photos of and eat after. Let me now explain why it is so very important to eat your durian pancake immediately:

The durian meat they stuff the pancakes with is stored in bowls that are kept in a small freezer at every outlet. When the pancake is cooked, the skin is crispy round the edges and the whole thing is piping hot, save for the cold, cold durian flesh inside. Sinking your teeth through pancake into the durian, feeling the sensation of hot and cold together just elevates the whole experience into something truly remarkable. Then there's also the texture to consider. The crispiness of the skin is entirely lost once the pancake has cooled, leaving only chewiness. 

D24 Durian stuffing
In the time it took for me to inhale my first pancake and take a halfway decent shot of the second, the temperature of the subsequent pancake had already reached some kind of equilibrium. The skin was no longer hot and the durian itself had warmed up a little. The pancake remains tasty though, and if you're buying it in bulk to share with other people they'll probably still enjoy it. 

The chewiness is something I really love about this pancake skin, but if you can have that and a slightly flaky crispiness around a creamy durian heart, wouldn't you always go for both?

391 Orchard Road, B207-3-2 Food Hall Singapore 238873

(One of four outlets)

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