There are two kinds of people in this world—people who love durian, and people who hate the fruit.
That might be oversimplifying things a little, because there are also people like me: someone who doesn’t mind durian, but isn’t gaga about it either. I would eat it if offered to me, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to source for some.
That said though, I’m always 100% down for durian-flavoured ice cream.
It’s probably because of how rich and creamy durian already is in the first place. Plus, what better way to enjoy a “heaty” fruit in a hot country than through ice cream?
The fact that durian works well as an ice cream flavour is no secret, and it’s not a hard-to-find product. Inside Scoop has it, Family Mart carries its own version, and many durian brands have also tried their hand at it.
But the cutest durian ice cream I’ve come across thus far is undoubtedly the one sold by a brand from Melaka, Musang Wang. Called “3D ice creams”, the brand’s products are shaped in the fruit they’re made out of.
The person behind Musang Wang is HanSeng Koh, the executive director of Koon Huat Agriculture Group (KHAG).
“Being a foodie who was born and raised in a blessed tropical country like Malaysia, specifically from an agriculture background family, frozen fruit-based desserts are part of childhood life,” HanSeng said to Vulcan Post.
Fuelled by his personal interest, HanSeng started to churn out his own ice creams. He would share these ice creams with close friends as well as family members.
In 2018, a friend tasted his Musang King Gelato, and recommended it to his business partners. That was when the Musang Wang brand came into existence.
Continuing the family legacy
Although the Musang Wang brand is around five years old, KHAG was founded back in 1990 by HanSeng’s father, Mr Koh Eng Koon, and incorporated in 1998.
According to KHAG’s website, Koon Huat is regarded as the largest agriculture company in Melaka, specialising in melon plantations for domestic and export markets.
In 2016, KHAG also started to focus on the durian industry, acquiring matured trees as well as planting new trees.
Today, HanSeng is the second generation managing the business alongside his brother, KaiXiang, as well as other family members and partners.
Before he was executive director at KHAG, though, HanSeng had actually been working at Deloitte for a few years.
“The call was hard to make back then, between the opportunity to work abroad, being well groomed in the audit industry, and to be back in the family business where new knowledge and skills need to be acquired,” he admitted.
But upon much consideration, he decided to come back to the family business where his roots belong.
A synergetic system
Traditionally, KHAG has been a B2B business. It operates in a form of a value chain whereby there are many individual companies within the group focusing on their own roles such as agriculture-related supply, logistics, plantation, marketing, fresh fruit export, and more.
But never once did it have a B2C offering.
That’s when HanSeng came in with Musang Wang.
Through the consumer-facing ice cream brand, HanSeng was able to proactively bring innovation to the family business, ensuring the group is able to grow further and make its ecosystem more complete.
According to him, the mindset one must have to approach B2B and B2C are different, but challenges are there for a reason—to drive growth. And that was exactly what Han Seng did.
Aside from durian ice cream, Musang Wang also creates artisanal products of other tropical Malaysian fruits such as coconuts and mangoes.
The production of Musang Wang ice creams is in KHAG’s headquarters located in Jasin, Melaka. The team uses exclusive moulds to create the ice cream and also shapes them by hand in between setting them in a blast freezer.
According to HanSeng, the brand is able to create 500 to 1,500 items per day.
Compared to other ice cream brands, HanSeng believes that Musang Wang has a competitive edge since it has the resources and channels for getting fresh and premium raw ingredients from KHAG.
Plus, KHAG’s expertise in the agriculture industry means that the quality of the fruit is assured thanks to various existing farm management technologies.
Aside from running its own durian plantation, KHAG also manages durian plantations in various Peninsular Malaysia states, where the harvest season varies.
“In other words, we could have access to durian close to eight months a year from different farms,” HanSeng explained.
In turn, Musang Wang brings value to KHAG too, by optimising the group’s value of fresh produce.
Getting a taste for myself
While Musang Wang products can be found in Johor, Seremban, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Kinabalu, I decided to buy some while I was in Melaka.
The products came in a huge box to preserve the coldness. According to the delivery rider, the boxed products can stay cold for around four hours.
Inside the box was a cute reusable freezer bag with Musang Wang’s logo and signature yellow. The ice cream is packed in individual boxes and wrapped in plastic.
Interestingly, I found the durian ice cream to be less vibrant and detailed than I expected, based on photos I saw online. It did resemble the durian flesh, but it was all one-toned, without any colouration and details to the “pit”, the way their marketing materials made it look.
However, this might be because the brand supposedly doesn’t use any artificial colouring, so I can’t fault it for that. In any case, the other ice creams (coconut, mango, and avocado) looked as adorable as they did online.
I brought this up to HanSeng, who told me that the vivid pictures I’ve found online are for illustration purposes only and those products are actually props made with clay.
Visuals aside, the flavours were rich, creamy, and satisfying, a feat achieved, surprisingly, while being dairy-free. HanSeng deliberately made the ice cream dairy-free as he knows that many Asians are lactose-intolerant.
Out of all the flavours, I personally loved the mango as I could feel the texture of the fibre, which made it all the more natural.
Going into patisseries?
In 2023, Musang Wang aims to bring its products to more stores as well as give customers the option to purchase them online.
Currently, to purchase the products, you must contact the team directly via WhatsApp or Instagram.
HanSeng shared that Musang Wang may also venture further into the patisserie scene and have a crossover between patisserie and gelato.
Meanwhile, KHAG will continue to focus on its value chain and strive to have a more complete ecosystem.
Featured Image Credit: Musang Wang