NOX - Dining in the Dark
Let's just call tonight a Blind Date.
Ever since NOX - Singapore's first dine in the dark restaurant opened, I've always wanted to try this novelty dining place despite the constant blogger's thought of "oh man, no lights means I can't take pictures!" and a picky eater's hesitation of "huh, but what if I don't like the food? I can't get to order, I can't get to choose".
Thankfully, the adventurous spirit in me took over and I'm grateful for being invited over for dinner by the kind people at NOX.
We entered into NOX and found ourselves at the dimly lighted lounge area which felt like a VIP area of a premium club. Loved the soothing ambience in there, felt quite detached from the rest of the world.
While chilling out at the lounge, we were briefed on the dining in the dark concept, how NOX changes its menu bi-monthly to ensure the element of surprise (and of course the opportunity to taste new and interesting dishes each time dining at NOX), as well as on what to expect during our dining experience upstairs. It felt like some form of layman standard operating procedure, as we were briefed down to simple things that we always take for granted such as how to use the utensils, how to pour water into our glasses, etc. But trust me, better listen up, it's highly appreciated and useful especially when we realised that we had to do everything by ourselves in the dark afterwards. Also, the vegetarian menu is available upon request so do let them know if you have any food restrictions or allergies. I opted for dairy free and thus my menu was slightly tailored according to my needs.
Got some pretty pre-dinner cocktails for the night to warm up for the great experience ahead.
We were served amuse-bouche (appetisers) at the bar before entering the pitch dark dining hall on Level 2. This gives us a glimpse of the chef's approach to the art of cuisine and of course the quality of food offered at NOX.
"This is the only food you'll get to see tonight"
Well, that was the moment of truth.
Time to surrender all light-emitting devices, and into the lockers they go!
yup, that includes mobile phones, watches and camera of course...
After which, we were greeted by our server for the night, Halimi. All servers of NOX are visually impaired, what's inspiring is that they did not give up on life upon losing their sight. But rather, I thank God for NOX for turning their problems into opportunities and giving them a new lease of hope. They are all well trained guides of the restaurant and are able to carry out their jobs as per normal. Rest assured, you are very safe with them around. After all, they have been through years what you are going through now.
The journey continues.
We were being led to our seats, placing our hands on the shoulders of the person in front of me, listening to directional cues, lots of trust involved, walking steadily up the stairs, feeling our seating area, our seats and finally being seated down, all of the above done in complete darkness. It was scary, taking the first step out is always the hardest and gosh, I felt like I could lose a step lose my footing and fall down flat on the ground any moment (even so it's less embarrassing cause no one would see me fall anyway hahaha) . All I could think of in my mind was "Are we there yet, are we there yet? Where's our table!" haha gosh, organising night walks during school camps did serve me well after all. Really, all we could see was the green 'exit' sign at the end of the room and a spot of red light which we guessed was the in-house cameras. Yup that's all we could see (and sense). As much as I was not used to the pitch-black dining room that I was in, I felt so glad just to be seating down on my seat. At least, that was the comfort zone to me.
Now tell me, where's my food...
The dark evoked my senses even further. I could feel that I paid more attention to my surroundings, inclusive of the food served to us. One good thing, food was served very quickly! At certain point of times, I kinda felt that I was eating too slowly, partly also because I became very conscious of what I am putting into my mouth, how it tasted like, gosh I could be a food critic for that matter. It was the epitome of Faith > Fear!
Each category platter comes with 4 sample size portion dishes, which I don't wish to disclose so as to not spoil your dining experience. Yup, so we actually tasted 12 dishes in total and they were good!
Here's just a sample Menu for clearer references
The fun yet scary part was putting unknown dishes into your mouth, haha I think we grew to be more adventurous and less picky when dining in the dark. Just eat, if taste good, continue eating. If not, stop. But most of the time, I finished my food because I wanted to taste what it actually was.
Placement of our dishes were in a circular manner, and we were told to eat starting from the closest bowl to us (aka at the 6pm spot) and move in clockwise after which. I admit I screwed up my positions some how, hahaha it was like, "Erm, so next dish. What do you taste?". He said he tasted fish for example, and I was like "HUH, why doesn't mine taste like fish?" Then we realised that I did not eat in a clockwise direction? No idea. My 2nd dish was his 3rd dish. What a joke!
No pictures of the food, of course.
But I'll just share in general.
One does not have to worry a thing about the quality of its food. The exquisite menu is crafted from the finest ingredients by Chef de Cuisine and his team. Tonight we had the new European dining menu. Food was definitely up to expectations, suitable for our tastebuds and in fact, during dinner itself, both of us thought the dishes were quite yummy! Could totally sense our pure happiness when we chance upon eating the food that we liked. All I can say is, the seafood was fresh and meat was tender. I wouldn't mind a bigger portion! As for the desserts, I had a dairy-free option (thank you!) thus I was so happy with the chef's choice of desserts specially for me.
After dinner, we had a chat in the dark with our server at our table before he led us downstairs back to the lounge area. He shared his very encouraging story with us, on how he used to be with Singapore Airlines but he lost his eyesight after a surgery. Instead of giving up, he decided to pick himself up within a week because he wanted to live for the sake of people who care for him. Today, he is happily married, is a independent person and one who taught me a lesson on being trusting towards others. Thank you very much for giving us more than a dining experience. Thank you NOX for giving people like Halimi a platform to inspire others around him. All I can say is, kudos (with a lot of respect). It is definitely challenging being visually impaired, I can't imagine myself going through this same motion everyday, let alone just dining.
Think of it this way, I'm doing this only for less than 2 hours, but for them, it's forever.
After getting used to the dark (oh who am I kidding, I'll never get used to it unless I'm sleeping), we were being led downstairs back to the lounge. And, God said "Let there be light". Literally. Oh glorious, I've missed you lights!
That's not all.
We were given a questionnaire to fill up, like a guessing game of what we think was being served to us for dinner earlier on! Thank God it isn't graded, hahaha!
& I'm glad our reasonable sense of palate taste helped us greatly in completing the questionnaire with what we thought would be right in terms of the ingredients we ate. Violaaa! The actual menu was then revealed to us and we could figure out exactly how many dishes and ingredients we could identify during our meal. Yup, woohooo(!), indeed we managed to get the main crux of our dinner right!
Thank you NOX for having us over for dinner, it's been a truly memorable and unique experience like no other.
In case you didn't know, 'Nox' means 'Night' in Latin.
Now you know
Plunge into an intriguing new world of mystery and sensation you have never experienced before, and join us on a culinary journey through taste, smell, touch and sound, in total darkness.
In case you're thinking of a unique place for Valentines' Day, why not give NOX a try! Here's their V-Day menu for your reference!
NOX - Dine in the Dark
Address: 269 Beach Road, Singapore 199546
Monday to Friday: 6pm to late
Saturday: 5pm to late
Sunday: 5pm to 11pm (last reservation at 9pm)
Saturday: 5pm to late
Sunday: 5pm to 11pm (last reservation at 9pm)
Tel: +65 62980708