Last Updated: November 7, 2016
This is one truly unique and rare dining experience in Singapore you won’t want to miss. NOX – Dine in the Dark was started on 2 August 2013, and brings this total darkness dining concept from Europe/US to Singapore at Beach Road. ‘Nox’ means ‘Night’ in latin by the way.
The concept of NOX challenges guests to a multi-sensory journey beyond sight, which sometimes affects your perception of food even before tasting it. By immersing guests in a pitch black environment emulating what the blind go through everyday, your sense of touch, taste, smell and sound are heightened above their normal levels.
Not only is the dining area in total darkness, the servers are also visually impaired but expertly trained to guide and present dishes as per any normal restaurant.
Upon arrival at the lounge bar before heading up to the darkness, you can enjoy signature cocktails and an amuse bouche with your full sight as a prelude.
Bacciferous ($20). Citrus fruits, berries and mint. A rum based cocktail that is pretty much a blackforest mojito which I adore for its refreshing mix.
Milotini ($20). Made with milo espuma and vodka. This special cocktail made for National Day has a heavy, creamy texture with an amazing smoothness that belies the malted chocolate.
Adorned with braille writing all around, it reads ‘NOX dining in the dark’ for those of you who can actually decipher it (the manager told me as I am braille incompetent).
Unagi and Salmon Roe with Ginger Oil. This is the only dish we will visually see tonight, and served as the amuse bouche to start off the meal.
After you’re ready, you will be required to keep all your phones,cameras and any glowing objects in the lockers provided at the lounge. One of the visually handicapped servers will then be summoned to guide you up the stairs to the spacious dining area.
As you go through the door and slowly climb up all the while with your hands on your designated server’s shoulders, the lights slowly diminish into nothing. Suddenly you lose your sense of sight which might be frightening to some, and invigorating to others who suddenly feel like Daredevil with superhuman heightened senses.
Here’s a look at what we ate. Kidding aside, this is precisely what you will see when dining at NOX.
Guests will be required to feel for the chair, plates, cutlery and even wine if you choose to have it. Water will also be served in a caraffe which you will have to attempt to pour in your own cup. Lots of communication with the server and physically feeling around is essential to not accidentally putting a piece of meat down your top or stabbing your eye with a fork.
Here on, it will be a mystery 3 course meal with 4 small tapas sized dishes with each course, prepared by Executive Chef Desmond Lee. You won’t be told what you’re eating until the end, so feel the textures with your tongue, recall previous tastes and smell to really appreciate for a moment what food flavour is all about.
After the meal, you’ll be led down again by your friendly server to the well-lite lounge and regain glorious sight. A form will be given for you to write down what you think you had for dinner. You can compete with your dining partner to settle who has a better palate once and for all.
The menu at NOX is updated frequently, and during my tasting session we had the National Day heritage special set with a combination of nostalgic local favorites with premium ingredients. The regular menu would be more a modern, contemporary style.
This is what we had for dinner, which I probably managed to guess around 80% right, proving the palate can always be improved:
1st Course: Bak Kwa Caesar Salad, Hainanese Steamed Chicken Salad, Sous vide Egg and Foie Gras with Croutons and Truffle.
2nd Course: Otah Ngoh Hiang Fusion Cake, Suckling Pig with Hainanese Sweet Sauce and Peas, Tandoori Cod Fish, Lamb with Bean Sprout and Carrot Cake, Wagyu Beef with Pineapple.
3rd Course: Red Bean Potong, Pulao Hitam, Mango Pomelo Sago, Vanilla Panna Cotta with Gula Melaka Sago.
At $88++ for the 3 course set, you get a myriad of different dishes which will appeal to the variety hungry diner. The whole novelty of dining in the dark is also preceded by the higher social purpose of awareness for the visually handicapped and their everyday hurdles.
After just one dining session, you truly appreciate how tough it is for the visually handicapped who not only have to cope with basic routines without sight, but to work job in such a condition as well. The visually handicapped are trained to do everything for themselves and there is really no need for society to marginalize them.
With a 60 pax seating capacity and 2 seatings from 6-7 pm and 8-9 pm, you’ll want to make reservations a week ahead especially for weekends.
Expected Damage: $103 per pax