A rambutan is a fantastic, hot pinkish-reddish-greenish fruit, about 2-3" tall, oval-shaped, hairy on the outside, and common in Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Rambutans, not to be confused with the "Romulans" species from Star Trek, have a juicy flavor and consistency similar to a...GRAPE! Peel the spiky-hairy colorful rind (not sharp/dangerous) and eat the sweet flesh inside. Oh, and avoid pit!
Lychees are another funky-looking fruit, with a pinkish-brownish-greenish rind, about 2" big, roundish, juicy like a grape inside, also with a pit, and common in Asia. Even though they are similar in taste, Lychees are easier to peel and much juicier. My kids always prefer fresh lychees over romulans, oops, I mean RAMBUTANS if they had a choice.
You almost need a knife (well, I use a knife, not my teeth) to get through the thick crazy rambutan skin. Inside, the rambutan flesh is firm and moist (not dripping wet like lychees) and with a little squeeze, they pop right out of their rinds. Imagine a dense juiceless grape, if you will. Still sweet and delicious!
The rambutan pit is woodlike and big. It is so tree-ish and bark-like, that when you bite off the soft white flesh, it is almost impossible to avoid getting bits of that barky, woody pit - slightly annoying (unless you like wood bits mixed with a grape texture).
Now, LYCHEES! Even though they look spiky and hardcore, lychee's skin is just bumpy (smooth vs spiky) and super thin. No need for a sharp knife. Just rip/tear with your fingers.
Lychee's pit is solid and smooth and separates from the flesh easily when you bite into it. You aren't left chewing bits of the pit, like you do with the rambutan. Lychees are super sugary sweet, wet, extra juicy, sticky and really messy to eat. Kids LOVE eating fresh lychees!
They are now in season. I found these delicious lychees and rambutans at the Vietnamese market Tay-do (3825 South Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, UT 84119, 801-972-4700).