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In-the-dark dining comes to Phnom Penh

Walk into a dark room and leave your phone and your reservations at the door: that’s what customers will be told tonight at the launch of Phnom Penh’s first in-the-dark dining experience.

Following the lead of restaurants around the world that have capitalised on the trend for dining in darkness, Dine in the Dark restaurant is opening its doors inside Botanic Café, allowing customers to enjoy a meal with only their senses of taste and smell.

“Your senses automatically increase when you take away one sense, your taste buds increase and your sense of smell increases,” said Jay Smith, a co-founder of Dine in the Dark, the day before the launch.

When the customers arrive at the restaurant, they will place their orders in a lighted area before being escorted to the dining room by the wait staff. These guides are all visually impaired students from Krousar Thmey, a school for the blind and deaf in Phnom Penh.

Guests will be told to leave any possessions that produce light with the staff, and will not be told what they are eating. Three three-course options ($18) are available: Western, Khmer and vegetarian. The plan is to rotate the menu monthly.

This new restaurant is Dine in the Dark’s second venture, after its first location opened in Bangkok last year. Although that branch closed shortly afterward due to disagreements with the landlord, Smith said that the idea proved popular.

The concept of dining in darkness was launched by a Zurich restaurateur in 1999, and popularised by the Dans le Noir chain, which has branches in Paris, London, Barcelona, St Petersburg and New York.

Dine in the Dark is located upstairs in Botanic Restaurant at #126 Street 19. It is open daily from 6pm to 10:30pm. Reservations can be made a 077-589-458.

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