Crafted from single-origin cacao beans grown in the Malaysian highlands, the chocolate by this Kuala Lumpur–based chocolatier is proudly “tree-to-bar.” “Malaysian cacao is unlike any other in the world,” says founder Ning-Geng
Ong, who credits his sustainable and traceable beans for his Cocoa of Excellence award won at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris last year.
The country’s mix of tropical and highland climate is perfect for growing cacao, and when Dutch colonists introduced the trees here in the 18th century, production took off. Although Malaysia remains one the world’s top exporters of raw cacao, few farmers pay attention to fermentation and roasting practices, which are critical for coaxing nuances of terroir in bean-to-bar chocolate, something Ong learned through his studies in the U.S.
Sourcing premium local cacao meant working directly with the growers. Ong partnered with indigenous Semai and Temuan communities, learning to grow, dry and ferment the beans alongside the farmers. “When cultivated, fermented and roasted correctly, the beans yield exquisite taste profiles of saffron, nutmeg and dry figs,”
His bars are now stocked in the city’s Four Seasons and W Hotel and used in cafés and restaurants around town, but Ong still likes to play matchmaker for his customers at his Bangsar shop, choosing bars to suit their preferred sweetness: “Pairing chocolate lovers with their perfect bar: that’s still the end goal.” chocconcierge.com; bars from RM27.