I have been going through busy weeks dotted with appointments, late night assignments and last minute overseas business trips. Just two weeks ago, I landed in Japan and went around Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo before landing back in Singapore last week. Resting a couple of hours and I am bound for Myanmar for our company grand ceremony.
Time passed so quickly that I had even forgotten my own birthday until my dad has announced it during our celebration in Myanmar !
Hence, as a make up, she had booked a special restaurant to celebrate my belated birthday, just two of us. In addition, she has particularly curious about this restaurant which she wanted to visit during her last year’s birthday but the price was expensive if friends were to gather for the occasion.
Upon entering the restaurant, we was politely greeted by the receptionist. The restaurant does not accept walk-in and strictly by appointment only. We ordered a drink and waited at the lounge for our turn. The lounge itself has a nice, quiet ambience for chit chatting among your friends.
Here comes the interesting part. The waiter walked over to our waiting table and explain about the dining. In basic terms, we will be dining in a pitch dark and served by blind waiters. There will be no food menu but a fixed three-set course – appetiser, main course and dessert. Each set consist of four different dishes of small portion. That means a total of 12 dishes ! We were served with a pre-course appetiser, which we had to eat and guess the ingredients used. Furthermore, before entering the dining area, we need to put all our stuff including mobile phones in the lockers provided. This is to ensure that no lights are being used to identify the dishes.
As we waited near a side door, a blind male waiter greeted us and ushered us to the second storey while we lined up in a row and putting our hands on each others’ shoulders. Lights becomes dimmer on every steps and finally we reached the second storey – in complete darkness. The waiter the led us to our seats, using just our sense of touch.
Can you imagine having dinner in pitch black ? This is how the blind has lives throughout their entire lifetime.
Once in our seats, the waiter explained with details on the location of the cutleries (mainly forks) and our glasses. I was feeling all over the table and slowly, I get accustomed to the sense of touch without seeing it. Pretty much after settling down in the atmosphere, the waiter started to dish out the appetisers. As told by the waiter, we need to start eating from the 6 o’clock dish in clockwise manner. This is also to make sure that both of us are eating the same dish at the same time. From here, we start to feel on the bowls and fork and getting ourselves oriented with the correct dishes. Unknowingly what we are putting into our mouth, each bite is like a surprise to us while leaving us pondering on the ingredients as the taste lingers in our mouth. Soon before we knows it, we had finished our 3-set course meal and headed back down.
We was each given a questionnaire to fill in the food and ingredients used for the course meal before the waiter revealed the answers to us.
A very unique dining experience. Different thoughts ran through my mind during the dining. First of all, experiencing the life of a blind person. The dining setting is similar to a blind person having a meal. Without the aid of eye sight, they could only feel for the things around them and remembering the texture, but without any visualisation. For us, remembering the ingredients used in twelve dishes are a daunting tasks, let alone someone who needs to remember everything they have felt for.
However, without the sense of sight, I focused more on the texture and taste of the food in my mouth. While I carefully chewed on the food, my mind will start to run through the past experiences based on the taste and texture of the food, though I only managed to be almost 70% correct of what was in my mouth.
Last but not the least, dining in an uninterrupted atmosphere. When was the last time you had dinner without looking at your mobile phone. I think we are too “poisoned” with our electronic devices nowadays that we could not even focus on our food ! At NOX, putting all these away does gives an tranquility during the dining and definitely, a relaxing mood to enjoy the modern european cuisine.
Experience of the Blind
While I questioned the waiter if this restaurant was meant for charity, he replied it was on business aspect that the restaurant was founded. They employed the blind but providing them an adequate pay – on par of those working in normal restaurants rather than lower wages which they had received from their previous jobs.
On further checks, NOX “Dining in the Dark” experience was organised by the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), as a form of raising awareness about the challenges that a vision impairment person face in their daily activities. The idea was originated from the Blindekuh (Blind Cow) restaurant in Switzerland.
Not to mentioned, I finished dinner with another surprise ! A birthday cake that was specially requested by my girl friend and prepared by the chef. As mentioned by the waiter, it was also the first time they have came across this cake and so far, it is not listed in the menu as well. Thanks dear for the great experience for my belated birthday !
Monday to Friday – 6pm till late
Saturday – 5pm till late
Sunday – 5pm to 11pm (last reservation at 9pm)