Words: Nichole Ong
Photos: Rich Callahan
Tucked beneath The Grange @Amp Walk on Jalan Ampang is a sliding white door that opens to pitch black. As if entering another dimension, Curio Dark is the moody, hidden version of the bright Curio Coffee Roasters in Riverwalk, newly opened to serve more experimental caffeine hits among the much-loved classics.
The cafe is built around a counter behind which the baristas precisely concoct their specialty coffee. Curio’s owners, Chris and Jookyie roast their own beans for just the right blend, selecting coffee beans that meet the highest standards. Curio Dark is also one of just a few cafes in the city to own a La Marzocco Leva coffee machine which uses cutting-edge technology such as live pressure visualisation of pre-infusion pressure and extraction pressure in a displayed graph to allow the baristas complete control over the technical aspects of the coffee and allow room for experimentation. On top of this, Curio Dark also boasts an array of filter coffees from regions such as Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and Panama.
As expected, the White Coffee (RM 13) was phenomenal. It was well balanced with a slight fruitiness and acidity accompanying hints of nuttiness. Due to the small cafe space’s intimacy, we could have a first-hand view of the coffee being made, admiring the meticulousness of the process and the efficiency of the machine.
On a more experimental note, the Moonrise (RM 32) offers an intriguing departure from the routine morning coffee by combining whisky, sake and espresso, presenting it like a cocktail. Just like Curio’s interior toes the line between light and dark, this drink stands at the intersection of dusk and dawn in its creativity. The strength of the alcohol mirrors the warmth of a hot coffee as it travels through the veins, while the cold brew provides the refreshing kick of a cocktail. Moonrise, as a whole, tastes bright and fresh, blending elements of day and night in a drink with the undertones of nightlife but the vibrancy of a brand-new day.
The Skyfall 2.0 (RM 18) is a perfect choice for the sweet tooth, combining Curio’s house blend with caramel. The sweetness of the caramel synergises wonderfully with the nuttiness of the coffee, providing a well-balanced sip.
We also had the pleasure of sampling the Saint La Lama filter coffee from Costa Rica, a new blend soon to be offered on the menu. The beans are grown at altitudes 1800-1900 metres above sea level, then the skin is taken off them, and they are fermented in their flesh which is later removed. The coffee is prepared using a Hario V60 dripper known for improving clear flavours. Everything in this process is exact, as barista and manager Nix tells us that even the kettle is specially made for filter coffee. Such attention to detail created a multifaceted cup of coffee that was more fruity and wafted a rich aroma that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Curio Dark Menu
Though specialising in coffee, the food at Curio Dark is also not to be missed, providing bites that complement the drinks well.
The Pies (RM 13-18) are exclusively provided to Curio outlets and offer lamb, beef, chicken and mushroom variations. We opted for the lamb pie, filled generously with tender, well-seasoned meat with a hint of sweetness. The pastry was excellent, being nicely buttery and flaky.
The Pop Fiction Waffle (RM 23) is a savoury take on a breakfast waffle, served with popcorn chicken and creamy sriracha sauce. The popcorn chicken was a particular highlight; crispy and savoury on the outside while maintaining a tender and juicy interior. The sriracha sauce provided a great hit of spiciness, which complemented the sweet fluffiness of the waffle.
The Cake of the Day (RM 16-18) was my favourite. The onde-onde cake was immediately impressive with its eye-catching green hue. The pandan-flavoured icing, the gula Melaka infused cake, and the coconut garnishes played together brilliantly to give a fragrant sweetness to the treat, overall making it a creative take on a local favourite.
Curio Dark Review
Curio Dark is well worth the venture down the hidden staircase (turn right before the entrance to the inside of the mall to see it), with its fantastic array of coffee and dishes. Here, the dark atmosphere and attention to detail that goes into each cup transform the simple act of getting a morning coffee into a fulfilling experience for the senses.
Reasons to visit Curio Dark: hidden location; unique dark surroundings; masterfully prepared specialty coffee; wide variety of filter coffee; excellent pies and cakes.
The Grange @ AmpWalk, LG01 Lower Ground Floor,
218, Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Curio Dark Opening Hours
Thursday to Tuesday: 10 am – 6 pm