Picture the scenario – you’re seated at a dining table in a room so dark you can’t see the cutlery and a plate inches before you. A server enters the room; the tantalising smell of your freshly prepared meal fills the air.
Placed in front of you, your senses heightened with your vision eliminated, the source of the aroma remains a tantalising mystery to you as you place the food in your mouth.
This is the experience offered at restaurant Dine in the Dark (DID), which after a successful opening in Phnom Penh three years ago has now arrived in Siem Reap town.
“Complete darkness is very hard to find on Earth. It can only be found in deep underground caves, where not everyone has the chance to go. Being in total 100 per cent darkness is already an experience in itself as you lose one of the senses you are used to rely on the most. You then have to rely on all your other senses,” said DID’s public relations manager Sophie Clemenson.
“The taste of ingredients are really different when you don’t see them. It is very fun for the guests to try to guess, make their assumptions, and then discover what they have eaten,” she added.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the visually impaired team members, or “guides”, who comprise the entire dining room service staff. The guides manage the entire dining room operation, including leading guests into the pitch black dining room, serving them their meals and clearing tables.
In doing so, the visually impaired members of staff – two of whom, impressively, are able to wait on 30 patrons at once – not only raise awareness about the complexity of navigating life blind, but also demonstrate their skills in a demanding customer-facing role to which they would normally not have access.
“The interaction with the visually impaired is one of the most lauded aspects of all DID locations, as guests routinely commend their guides not only for their engaging and friendly nature, but also their professionalism and quality of service,” said Clemenson.
DID’s premise is that with your vision eliminated, you will heighten your non-visual senses, thus enjoying stronger flavours, scents, and textures of the food. The five-course Khmer menu is $27, with a vegetarian option also available.
“The Kimsan twins [the restaurant’s chefs] have designed a Khmer menu and a vegetarian menu. They are both composed of five dishes, and sold at $27. Surprise menus make the experience more enjoyable for guests. Diners can let their non-visual senses take over and guess what’s on their plates. The menu is only revealed to the guests at the end of the dinner,” Clemenson said.
Replying to concern about harmful food, Sophie said that special care is put on safety. All dishes and drinks are served at a safe temperature, so there is no risk for the diners.
DID launched on December 12 at their new location on Makara Street, Siem Reap town. For more information, contact Sophie Clemenson via [email protected].