Food paired with durian is not unheard of.
But the thought of pizza paired with the king of fruits? Hmmm, I'm just not sure.
So when an unassuming box of pizza arrived at the office, I was equal parts excited and nervous.
Because it was Pizza Hut's new Cheesy 7 Durian pizza which, as its name suggests, is made using durian paired with seven types of cheese.
Strong durian smell? Yes.
Let's get this straight: I'm a durian lover, so I love how durian smells.
Even before we opened the box, there was already a strong scent of durian, accompanied by a milder cheese aroma, wafting through the office.
The pizza had a strong durian scent, but the aroma wasn't as fragrant as fresh durians. Nor was it close to the smell of durian puree one would usually find in cakes.
One colleague even went as far as to say that the cheese brings out the "smelliness" of the durian.
If you're wondering what a durian-cheese pizza would look like, here's a closer look:
The pizza is essentially heavily packed with a medley of cheese and round, charred dollops of durian.
Given the rather strange combination, it took me a good few minutes to gather the courage to try the pizza.
Like good old cheese bread found in neighbourhood bakeries
And when I finally did, I took a safe nibble from the edge that consisted entirely of cheese and dough.
I'm no cheese connoisseur, but I could taste the slight sweetness of cream cheese, as well as the sharp and salty notes of cheddar.
I don't know what the other types of cheese taste like (nor do I know how to pronounce most of them).
What I do know, however, is that the flavours are similar to hearty cheese bread that one can find at a neighbourhood bakery -- yes, the crispy cheese parts are the best.
After that, I took a small bite of the durian portion of the pizza.
If you're a fan of bittersweet mao shan wang durians, then this isn't for you.
As someone who prefers sweeter durians, the taste of the durian was not bad at all. Not only did it have the creamy and slightly-fibrous texture of real durians, but it was also sweeter than actual durians.
Then, I got bolder and ate both the cheese and durian parts together.
To walk you through the experience, I took a bite, went "huh?" and repeated the process a couple of times.
I figured that cheese and durian both have strong and yet very different flavour profiles.
While savoury and sweet could go well together (think sea salt caramel or prosciutto and melon), this durian and cheese combination felt like a war in my mouth with the flavours constantly battling for my attention.
Unfortunately for me, this combination was just not working out.
Overall, I won't say it tastes bad, though, seeing as I could still easily finish a slice.
In fact, I might have another slice after this in an attempt to solve the confusion I just experienced.
And possibly end up confused all over again.
Rating: 3/5. Worth buying once just for the novelty. Not horrible, just bizarre. Perhaps better off eating durian and cheese pizza separately.
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Top image by Fasiha Nazren.