Laura Hayes
Laura Hayes

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The Dish: Fermented Durian Curry With Spaghetti Squash

Price: $13

Where to Get It: Spoken English, 1770 Euclid St. NW; (202) 588-0525

What It Is: One of the most talked about dishes at this tachinomiya-style standing eatery is a nest of spaghetti squash coated in a luscious curry that’s spiked with a notoriously stinky fruit—durian. Some liken durian’s scent to diesel fuel. But there’s not even a whiff of foul play here. This dish passes the smell test and it’s also bursting with flavor from an assortment of other ingredients.

What It Tastes Like: Have no fear, you won’t have to hold your nose or risk bad breath for days after one bite of this dish. Chefs Matthew Crowley and James Wozniuk prepare the durian three weeks in advance using a lacto-fermentation process that removes the fruit’s obnoxious odor. The fermented durian gives way to a subtle tropical fruit flavor and smell.

The Story: Wozniuk wanted to change the stinky reputation of durian, which in Southeast Asia has been known to evacuate buildings and ground airplanes. 

How to Eat It: You can use chopsticks to pick up the spaghetti squash, but also ask your server for a spoon to lap up every last drop of curry. And since this dish is a mix of fresh veggies and fermented durian, vegans should consider it for an appetizer or even a main dish.