Dining concepts are a dime a dozen in Singapore – but you’ll be hard pressed to find one more unique than NOX Dine in the Dark.
We’re sure you can pretty much guess what will be happening from the name of the restaurant – eating in the dark – and although we’ve been forsworn to not say anything about the food, what we can tell you is what to expect. It is quite an experience; so don’t knock it before you’ve tried it.
Upon your arrival, you’ll be ushered into the lounge where the staff will briefly explain what’s going to happen. The three-course prix fixe dinner ($88++) is a mystery set menu so if you have any dietary restrictions; it’s best to let the folks know at this point in time. As they start prepping your table and dinner, perhaps enjoy a cocktail, conceptualized NOX’s barman Thomas Sobota, with your amuse-bouche.
For something light to whet the palate, the Cloudy Kentucky ($20) will satisfy with a refreshing combination of bourbon, ginger liqueur, orgeat, and cloudy apple juice. If you’re looking for something stiff after a long workday, go for What’s The Thyme ($20). Think tequila, sherry, cachaça, thyme syrup, and lime juice.
Before heading to the dining room upstairs, you’ll have to place any light-producing accessories and apparel in the lockers (free of charge) next to the lounge. So not only will you be deprived of sight, you have to give your social crutch of mobile phones and watches too. Needless to say, we’re feeling a little vulnerable as we put everything away in the lockers.
We were then introduced to our visually impaired guide, who led our party up the stairs, into the pitch darkness. As you’re seated, you learn the orientation of cutlery and glasses on the table. Everything should be in its place to help your guide serve and clear your courses, especially if you have the cocktail ($50++ additional) or the wine pairing ($40++).
Each course – appetisers, mains, and desserts – features four different dishes. We were told to start with the dish at the six o’clock position and work our way clockwise around the tray. Nervous giggling and bravado in the dark aside, when the first course starts to arrive, the curiousity takes over. It’s strangely liberating to discuss the flavours we’re tasting and “seeing” in our minds without any sort of visual confirmation.
From the distinct flavours and textures like silky, buttery foie gras, and crunchy candied bacon to the more befuddling ones like protein that you can’t identify pork from duck, most of the food is cubed for easy consumption with just a fork or a spoon.
When we’ve finished our dinner, our guide brings us back to the lounge, where we did a little test to see how well we identified the components of the courses. Don’t worry, for most part, it’s more like a memory test (since you’ve had 12 dishes altogether), so don’t get too stressed over it. Thereafter, you’ll be shown pictures and descriptions of what you had earlier on.
Verdict: Head Chef Desmond Lee’s pedigree features kitchens like Restaurant Ember and the now defunct Le Saint Julien and we can definitely envisage the thought process behind most of the dishes presented. However, execution was quite a let down for the main courses, save the Crispy Pork Belly. Don’t let that detract you from going to NOX though, it’s more of the experience than anything else, and makes for a fun date if your other half is a foodie too.
NOX is also celebrating their third anniversary on 14 August 2016, 8pm-2am, with a smashing party featuring 18 of the best bartenders – three per one-hour shift – in Singapore. Expect the likes of Anthony Zhong (Shin Gi Tai), Aaron Goodall (The Cufflink Club), Symphony Loo (Neon Pigeon), Jay Gray (Monkey Shoulder Brand Ambassador), Edriane Lim (Anti:dote), and Sim Sze Wei (Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall) to be serving up their signature cocktails.
The kitchen will also be dishing out plates like the Squid Ink Seafood Paella and Sirloin Steak Beef Burger that diners can (actually) see and take photos of! Food and cocktails will be priced at $20nett.
NOX Dine in the Dark is located at 269 Beach Road , Singapore 199546, p. 6298 0708. Open Mon-Fri 6pm till late, Sat 5pm till late, Sun 5-11pm.
Top Image: Squid Ink Seafood Paella.
All images courtesy of NOX.