As we left the bright lounge of NOX – Dine in the Dark and climbed up the dimly lit, carpeted steps, we grasped the handrails and each other’s shoulders, making our way towards the pitch black dining area.
“Are you guys okay?” our blind guide, Rahamet, asked. Aimed to expose the lives of the visually impaired, guests at NOX are guided and served by the blind in a pitch black dining room. Gradually, the light began to fade and soon, we were surrounded by complete darkness – the same darkness that would enclose us for the next two hours as we ate our dinner.
Guests aren’t told in advance what their dishes will contain; they’re left to distinguish the tastes for themselves. The NOX website doesn’t even include its monthly menu – interested guests can only view a sample menu and representative photos. The meal is a set menu – which changes once every month – and has three main courses: an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. Every course consists of four dishes, each dish contrasting yet complimenting the smells, tastes, and textures of the others.
Determined to make full use of our heightened senses during our meal, we decided to smell every dish before tasting. We were astonished by the differences of what we smelled and tasted.
For example, when we smelled the third dish of the appetizer, Janna could smell a mixture of spices, while Jenna thought it smelled like french toast. As we aimlessly scooped into our small dishes, we discovered a gooey texture. Using our forks, we felt around the four corners of the dish and found that there were other elements of the dish – chewy, bread-like pieces, and various vegetable-seeming foods.
We soon realized that when surrounded by complete darkness, the other four human senses are enhanced. Smells become more distinct, sounds are sharpened, and tastes are more flavorful. As we smelled and tasted each dish, we identified certain tastes and ingredients that we may not have focused on if we had been told what we were eating in advance. The meal seemed almost like a game, which made it that much more fun.
Upon leaving the dark room and being ushered to the lounge, we were given empty menus to fill out with what we thought we had eaten. Then, an employee came to our table and revealed the ingredients and pictures of our meals.
What we had thought was pork was actually venison (deer), and what we thought was chicken turned out to be duck.
Two set menus were $88 each, and two bottles of water, nine dollars each. Including ten percent service charge and seven percent GST, the total bill came out to $225.98 for two people.
Because of the price and the experience, this is not a restaurant where students should come after school for a social snack. Our whole topic of conversation encompassed what we smelled, felt, and tasted – not the typical dinner conversation between young students. Often, when we go out to meals with our friends and families, we focus on our own lives or our phones. Rarely do we really appreciate the food. Dining in the dark forced us to take note of the textures, tastes, and smells of what we were eating.
But the experience didn’t just highlight the delicious food. For the first time, we had a small insight into the lives of the visually impaired. As Rahamet emphasized after our meal, some of the staff members working at NOX have not been blind since birth – instead, they lost their sight during adult life. NOX is a restaurant where the price covers not only delicious food and an incredible experience, but also raises awareness and provides jobs for the blind. For two hours, we were able to experience this type of lifestyle, and we highly recommend it to everyone looking for something different.
Interested in a similar dining experience to NOX – Dine in the Dark? Click here for a map of different dine in the dark restaurant locations worldwide.