Monday, 6 April 2015

NOX - Dine in the Dark

NOX - Dine in the Dark is an interesting concept, and by far I believe, is still a unique concept in Singapore. Located in the premises of the popular Haji Lane, and where pub-goers and exotic cuisines are located as well, NOX is just right opposite the PARKROYAL Hotel, further down after FIKA in the direction of the Beach Road Army Market.

Not just being what I claimed as an interesting concept, NOX has also been awarded as the "Best New Concept" for the year of 2014.

Consisting of 2 storeys, the lower storey is more of a holding area and a lounge, while upper level gets ready for an empty and well-arranged table.

For those whom might not have heard of NOX, it is a concept where you basically dine in total darkness. Not just not knowing what food you will be served, but also being guided to the table, served, drank and chat in complete pitch black environment, in the upper storey. This is what Dine in the Dark means.

This is how the concept works the moment you stepped into NOX. You will seated in the area nearer to the bar table, and given a beverage list, full of cocktails and wines for selection. The service crew will present you a lanyard and some-sort of the carabiner to hook the locker keys, where you will be told to lock all your personal belonging and any light-emitting devices as well. This lanyard is to be kept close with you throughout the meal, and if it unknowingly dropped at the upper level, it would be troublesome to retrieve it back.

We did not consume any alcoholic drinks, and crew was courteous to inform us that they can change the selected cocktail drink into a mocktail. We have took our first sip of the mocktail version of Strawberry Fields ($20.00) and Bacciferous ($20.00), and found it to be as thirst-quenching too.

NOX's does not have a menu, as mentioned earlier, where you get to decide what you would like to eat. Every course you have, will be a surprise from the start of the course till the end of the course. For those with dietary restrictions or food allergies, you may raise it up and NOX will make special arrangements to ensure you get the surprise, as well as food "comfort".

Amuse Bouche, is the only food where we get to the see its presentation, and know what we are eating, where to pick up the spoon to scoop, and place in into our mouths with unerring point.

A complimentary appetizer, which gives you kind of like a foresight to the main courses.

As we were sitting by the lounge, waiting for our turn to enter through the dubious door just right in front of us, time by time, diners came out of it with some blinking and rubbing their eyes to adjust back to the environment with lights. They were brought to the further part of the lounge where questionnaire was given to each and every one to guess what they had earlier, before the menu is revealed to them.

Finally it was our turn, and we were told to wait at that dubious door I mentioned with our drinks, where a visually-impaired guide will be there to lead us up to our table. We entered and only get to see partial of the ascending staircase that just went up to darkness. The guide introduced himself to us with politeness, and told us to place our hand on the shoulder on the person in front. This is to ensure we kept close to each other, and not to lose our sense of direction up there. We have no idea how the upper storey look like, panic rose as darkness dawn on me and my eyesight literally became useless. No doubt we were taking mouse-steps all the way up, and unsure what was ahead of us with each step we took.

On our way up, a couple behind me started to experience difficulty in breathing, and seems to have difficulty taking another forward step. The guide just told us to stay where we are, and uses each of our shoulder to get to the end of the short queue to assist the panicky couple. While this was going on, our sense of hearing seems to be more sensitive than before, amazingly. It seems like any usual restaurant, but the lights turned off and windows nailed with cupboards. You can hear people chatting, laughing, sounds of pouring water in the drinking glasses, putting utensils back on the table, as well as shifting of the chair, and so on.

The guide later came back to lead us to our table, before heading back to the other couple behind us to bring them to another allocated table. As we reached our table, we were told to feel our own chair, and directed to turn to the correct direction in order to get seated. The moment I sat down, I felt a little more at ease knowing I am now seated, and a table is now right in front of me. We were further told to feel the table with our hands, where to the right is our serviette and a pair of utensil (fork and spoon) rest on the top, further up is an empty glass for pouring water, and a little to the left will be the drinks that we had ordered and brought up along with us. Here is the image of how the arrangement on the table looks like, except without the hotplate.

*Individual images taken from Google Images

A bottle of Still Water costs $8.00, but we skipped this as we already had our mocktail. Of course, this is another challenge as diners are to pour the water themselves. It is actually quite simple, where you just place one-quarter of your finger over the glass's brim, and pour till you felt the water touching your fingertip. That's when you know you should stop pouring and not wetting your table next, in the dark.

We have the appetizer, main, and desserts in the same arrangement, with 4 small bowls containing different food and placed on a hotplate-like plate, all at the cost of $88++ set menu. We were told to start taking up the first bowl nearest to us, and then making our way to the other bowls in a clockwise direction. We took up the first bowl, tried to sniff out what it could be, and pick up the utensil to start tasting. We had to hold the bowl close to us, so that we can have better accuracy in having the food in our mouth. I shall not disclose what we had, but overall, the food ranging from appetizer to dessert, is fared above satisfactory.

Our guide will drop-by our table once a while to confirm we were well and helped us to prepare for the next course. This same routine just carried on, till we were ready clear the table, and guided back to the lounge at the lower storey.

Here's what happened after the meal and guided back to the bottom of the staircase. The moment the door was opened, I had to blink a few times to get my eyes adjusted to the environment. The bottom crew got us to another part of the lounge and sat down to fill up a questionnaire testing if we knew what we had. After which, the crew will use a tablet to show us the images of what we had earlier and at the same time keeping a low tone, so as not to leak any information and spoil the mood of the waiting diners.

We had requested for dietary requirements, and was glad that NOX has not mixed up the food, even when food was served with total darkness. While the entire course was a mystery to all diners (not unless you have heard it from your friends in the same month), NOX changes their menu once every month. This I believe, is a way to keep diner's taste buds coming back for experiences.

This is indeed a very special experience for us, as it really made us reflect how important our eyes are to us in our daily lives. For just a simple meal, we had to eat and drink with cautious, not to mention when walking in the dark even when a guide is leading us.

Accept Reservation: Yes

Nox- Dine in the Dark

269 Beach Road
Singapore 199546

Tel: (65) 6298 0708

Opening Hours
Mon - Fri: 1800 - Late hours
Sat: 1700 - Late hours
Sun: 1700 - 2300 hours

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