By Jacklyn Tran

August 10, 2015

Ethnic Seattle – In August, the breezy summer nights carries with it a feeling of wistfulness. The lakeside strolls, the lazy Sundays in the golden sun or even the grocery runs that are more pleasant when the signs of summer present itself in the produce aisles of the local Asian market. From the sweet smell of berries to the odd formations of the more exotic variety, we hover over the stalls of prickly thorns or smooth rounds, deciding what we are in the mood for that day.

Most indicative of the season with its presence, are two of the most notable tropical fruits, the durian and the mangosteen. Longans, passion fruit, lychee, dragon fruit, soursop and jackfruit are all satiating additions to ones’ theoretical cart, but only two can be named the King and Queen of Fruits (by Southeast Asian standards).

The King of Fruits: Durian

The reputation of durian is unlike any other. Just like true royalty, it is both feared and honored. Durian is a delicacy for those who are able to consume it. The fruit’s aroma has the power to garner unfaltering appreciation or extreme repulsion. Its large size and intimidating exterior of thorns opens up to a creamy yellow flesh, the smell of which radiates with such depth, it is banned from some hotels and forms of public transportation in Southeast Asia.

Those who are brave enough to withstand the smell (or those in the minority who find the scent pleasant) are rewarded by a smooth texture, a mildly sweet, nearly custard-like essence that is accented by a note of light melon.

For the faint of heart, a durian milkshake, ice cream or macaron may be the gateway test to see if further advancement into trying the fruit itself is desired.

At Macadons, Donna Chan’s French-style macaron creations are given a twist; with flavors that include durian, passion fruit, taro and more. Chan custom makes macarons of all colors and designs, personalizing for each wedding day, baby shower, birthday or event.

Without a special order, Macadons can be found in limited quantities at Bánh Mì Unwrapped in Seattle or Saigon Sunset in Renton where they also carry macaron ice cream sandwiches. On August 22, the annual Celebrate Little Saigon summer festival will feature Donna’s macarons. For the fifth year, this festival will celebrate Vietnamaese-American food, arts and culture; featuring a $2 Food Walk at 20 participating restaurants. For more information, visit

The Queen of Fruits: Mangosteen

The ever-elusive mangosteen is an admired favorite; but one that is hard to come by. The dream-like euphoria and hope that exists when coming upon a bunch of these round, distinctively royal-purple fruits is often dashed when the thick shell is pried open to find overripe insides. In its prime, the fruit is a soft white. The dainty crescent-shaped pieces can nearly melt between ones fingers before reaching the tongue if not careful. Once successfully landed, the taste buds sing from the sweet, tangy flavor.

At Tamarind Tree Restaurant in Little Saigon, the cocktail menu boasts an impressive array of delicious tropical drinks. Whatever the mood: guava, palm coconut, lychee, papaya, pomegranate, or mango, they have it all in martini form (non-alcoholic versions also served). The pineapple mojito with Gold rum, fresh pineapple chunks, sugar cane, muddled mint leaves, fresh lime juice and soda is always a refreshing option. The “Sparkling Tropics” menu offers a cognac, tamarind juice and sparkling wine blend, for those who prefer a little bubbly. For something a little sweeter, the house-made passion fruit or durian ice cream is available to please.

Tropical Fruit Cocktails at Tamarind Tree in Little Saigon. Photo Cred: Phoebe Poon

Whether it’s mangos or pineapples, durian or mangosteen, the list of nature’s candy is extensive. Sliced, diced, shaken, stirred. Baked, blended, and beyond. In these final months of the season be sure to get out and make the most of this summer’s sweetness. Below is a list of supermarkets to frequent should you be inclined to roam the aisles for a tropical fix.

Market Guide:

MacPherson’s Fruit and Produce
4500 15th Avenue S
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 762-0115

Minh Tam Market
1040 S Jackson Street
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 325-3483

Lam’s Seafood Market
1221 S King Street
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 720-0969

Mekong Rainier
3400 Rainier Avenue S
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 723-9641

Seafood City Supermarket
1368 Southcenter Mall
Tukwila, WA 98188
(206) 316-4258

Seattle Supermarket
4801 Beacon Avenue S
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 767-3344

Viet Wah Supermarket
1032 S Jackson Street, #1032
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 329-1399

Food Guide:
Tamarind Tree Restaurant
1036 S Jackson Street
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 860-1404

Banh Mi Unwrapped
4725 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 456-7192

Saigon Sunset
2832 NE Sunset Blvd
Renton, WA 98056
(425) 228-2771


Related Links:

The King of Fruits

The King and Queen of Fruits: Durian and Mangosteen