Malaysia’s first restaurant in total darkness, Dining In The Dark is a unique experience that lets you discover food in a whole new way – without seeing it. A restaurant where sounds and smell come to life, all in all Dining In The Dark is a pretty surreal experience. Located above Ten on Changkat and The Whisky Bar (along Changkat Bukit Bintang road), besides shifting the focus from the décor of the restaurant to the food, it also forces us to pay closer attention to conversations both at our table and around us.
As you arrive any items that can give off light such as cell phones are locked away. Just outside the main dining hall is an illuminated waiting area with black leather couches, hot pink stools and a bar where you can enjoy a cocktail before your meal. It has a futuristic feel with glowing neon lights, art deco paintings on the walls and a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere.
Here we are shown the menu (which changes monthly) but the food going to be served is described in vague terms. Our starter (hot & cold) is supposed to help us begin our culinary journey with ‘three contrasting hot and cold flavours’, the main course (trilogy) is something ‘you wish you could get a glimpse of’ and dessert (love is blind) is ‘a symphony of four different creations’.
In the darkened dining hall, without sight our remaining senses are heightened and we savour the smell and taste of our food more carefully. Still, you will find yourself trying to guess what exactly it is you are eating. When our starter arrives we struggle to find the fork, then hesitantly (and hopefully) spear something on the plate and cautiously put it into our mouths.
At first crunch, it has a grainy texture and practically bursts with sweet juice, and there is a mild and creamy sauce that accompanies it: the dish turns out to be a melon salad with feta cheese. Finding out it was feta cheese was a surprise, as we had assumed it was mayonnaise. Using a fork was proving to be very difficult so a few of us abandoned our cutlery and dived right in using out fingers – it was messy, but of course no one could see…
Next up is our main course: we correctly identified the meat as chicken but the sweet, smoky sauce was a little harder to guess, with some of us identifying it as sweetened hot sauce and others saying it is a fruity ketchup – it turned out to be chicken in barbecue sauce. Lastly was dessert – touching our plate confirmed that it was ice cream, and our first nutty-flavoured bite had us trying to guess what nuts were used to make it: it turned out to be pistachio-flavoured ice cream.
Also on our plate is a smooth, crunchy fruit that is sugary and nutty-flavoured on the outside but tart-tasting on the inside – it turned out to be caramelised apples! Dessert also came with a rich, gooey and chocolaty cake with a cream centre – but none of us could correctly guess what it was (it turned out to be tiramisu).
Having a meal in pitch darkness is not a new fad – the idea of purposefully eating in complete darkness started in Zurich in 1999 with blind clergyman Jorge Spielmann. When guests ate at his home they wore blindfolds to better understand his world and discovered that without their sight, their sense of taste and smell was heightened – this made the meal more enjoyable.
This gave Spielmann the idea to open a dark restaurant. Since then many other restaurants of the same nature have sprung up around the world – the most famous being Opaque in New York and Dans Le Noir in Paris.
Some people visit for the uniqueness of it, others to tie in their meal with a social purpose by supporting the visually impaired wait staff. The feeling of sitting in a restaurant deprived of your sight is quite liberating – you will find yourself talking to complete strangers at the next table (you are even encouraged to do so) and eavesdropping on the people around you. It is pretty entertaining. Whatever the case, Dining In The Dark is the type of place you will come back to, not only for the food but also for the experience.
Dining In The Dark
- Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 18:30 – late
- Address: 50 Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2110 0431