Boss reveals how famed durian stall Combat Durian got its name
Combat Durian has been around for over 50 years, and its boss is known for being strict about quality
Combat Durian, a stall located next to the Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple in Balestier, has been around for more than 50 years.
Photos of its customers, including local actors and radio DJs, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam and Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat, are plastered all over the walls at the stall at 249 Balestier Road.
"There are too many to put up all," said the man behind the stall, Mr Ang Seck Puan, 78.
He is known to durian lovers for coining catchy durian names - Sultan Durian after D24, and King Of Kings or Wang Zhong Wang after the highest quality Mao Shan Wang durians from Gua Musang, a town in Malaysia.
Among major durian suppliers in Malaysia, he has earned a reputation for being extremely picky.
He told The Straits Times in Mandarin: "If they give us bad quality ones, I will tell them not to come the next day.
"I am very strict about quality, and that is how we ensure three generations of customers keep coming back."
He started out selling vegetables in 1957 when he was 17, but decided to sell mainly durians in 1965.
He said they were cheap then.
Said Mr Ang: "One durian used to be about 50 cents."
Now, many customers pick the Mao Shan Wang durian as their favourite for its rich, creamy taste and intense aroma.
During the peak durian season around June, it would cost about $15 a kg, down from $25 a kg usually.
Because of the reduced price, the stall would see snaking queues. Mr Ang carries laminated photos of such scenes in his wallet.
His daughter, Madam Linda Ang, 52, samples every batch of durians from the suppliers.
She took over the running of the stall seven years ago
But Mr Ang still turns up almost daily. The stall opens at noon, and closing times can range from 10pm to midnight.
He dropped out of primary school when he was 12 to support his 14 younger siblings.
His father, who worked in a newspaper printing company, made about $300 a month, hardly enough to support the 15 of them through school.
"I left school to help him in the newspaper company. That is why I don't know how to speak well."
In fact, Combat Durian got its name because it was how he pronounced "come back".