WTF is Rambutan?

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see these in a market, your first thought was probably something like, “What the flippin’ hell is that?” You were probably in for another shocker when you looked at the price; rambutan is ridiculously expensive, even in Hawaii, where it’s grown commercially.

If you’ve never seen it until now, you’re probably at least a little alarmed. Yes, this is a fruit. And a seriously delicious one at that!


Pronounced rahm-boo-tahn, this fruit tastes very similar to lychee. I’ve been a fan of lychee since I was a kid, which is natural since Hilo is rainy and therefore, we get choke lychee trees and megachoke lychee fruits. Still, I tend to gravitate towards the tart, slightly green lychees and so when I was introduced to rambutan, I was suddenly in love. It tasted kinda like lychee, but ever so slightly different.

Not quite as sweet with a firmer flesh, I could eat this until I was blue in the face if I didn’t know too much gives you a really bad case of the runs…


Rambutan needs to be sliced open to expose the fruit underneath the thick, but totally harmless shell. It may look poky and scary, but it’s really just soft, thick hairs. This is a really beautiful batch that my dad sent me a couple months ago. It has to be eaten within a couple of days or else it starts to ripen then rots really quickly and then you just can’t eat it cause it tastes nasty.

The only thing wrong with rambutan is the dang seed.


This is a rather blurry picture, but if you want to see my fingerprints, this works out quite nicely. Anyway, the flesh sticks like glue to the skin around the seed pod and you have to be extremely careful about how you work your teeth around the seed. My dad doesn’t seem to care and just eats the seed skin and all, but I find the texture ruins my eating experience and I’ll even go so far as to bite it all off or slice it off. If you’re lucky though, you can peel it off the seed without the skin.

Since rambutan sells for about 9 bucks a pound on Oahu, I pretty much never buy it, since my dad can get it for like 2 bucks a pound in Hilo and ship it over to me. It grows on a tree and usually he sends me whole branches of the stuff, leaves and all! I usually take a little knife with me to work when I take some in to eat at the office.

One time, I lost a steak knife because I still had it in my purse from an office rambutan eating session when I was about to go past airport security. I realized at the last minute that it was in my bag and tossed it in a rubbish bin. What a crappy trip that could have been!

“But but but… I was using it to eat rambutan at work!”

8 thoughts on “WTF is Rambutan?”

  1. Hi Pikko! I’ve been following your main site for a while, and recently subscribed to this one as well. I cannot help but laugh when I saw the title of your post. It’s exactly how I felt when I first encountered rambutan. It looks like it comes from outer space! But it’s super good! The nice thing is that it’s pretty common here in the Philippines.

  2. You’e so lucky that its grown commercially around you! Rambutan was my favorite fruit growing up, but living it Michigan makes it EXTREMELY hard to come by. I ate it all the time when I was in the Philippines, but I can’t really find anywhere that’ll ship it for a reasonable price. 🙁 Sad.

  3. Yum! We used to live in a school district that had sample food days, they’d bring in something uncommon so the kids could expand their tastes. My daughter brought the outer home one day and said it was called “hairy fruit” LOL. Luckily I got to try some too since my mom is a teacher in the district and brings home the extras from her class. Probably nothing like fresh, since we’re here in UT, but still good!

  4. “Rambut” means “hair” in my language, so Rambutan means a fruit with lots of hair. In their season, you can find it very cheap in my country, but now it is off season. And I agree, it is delicious.

  5. I love, love, love this fruit! I only can find them canned where I live but I had the occasion to try them when I was abroad: such a good lychee taste plus a hint of strawberry!

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