Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Food: Dining in the Dark KL & 10 on Changkat @ Changkat Bukit Bintang

Somewhere along Changkat Bukit Bintang, lies an ultimate sensory experience...

Note: This is a joint post written by Adam & Wendy!

At times, when we blog about a certain place, we'll say this dish and that drink is definitely worth trying at least once. Well, this post is going to talk about a whole experience that we absolutely insist everyone should give a try!

Dining in the Dark is the latest offering brought to us by the Werner Group, the same people in charge of the well-known El Cerdo and Werner's along Changkat Bukit Bintang. The concept is simple; you dine in darkness. Absolute darkness. How dark exactly? We got the chance to find out for ourselves, thanks to a kind invitation from  the Werner's Group last Monday. =)

This way to Dining in the Dark! (p/s: Special shout out to the iPad cover we finally bought for our first asset together. It's from Hallmark which surprisingly has some pretty cool covers...we just couldn't resist those sad looking faces!)

Dining in the Dark is actually not a totally new concept. In other parts of the world there are established restaurants and event companies that cater to this concept, some even going further than dining and taking you blindfolded to the streets instead. But having never tried this before, we had absolutely no idea what to expect.

There is no menu to order from; instead customers pay RM 88++ per pax, and are served a three course meal. Our courses consisted of a trio appetizer platter, another trio main course platter, and a dessert plate of 5 different sweets. Definitely a surprise menu! There are also drinks, but that is charged separately. 

Of course, diners are not just rushed into a dark room. Everyone gets a welcome drink, which can be taken at the balcony upstairs overlooking Changkat. There customers can have some pre-dinner fun with a few sensory games the staff cooked up!

Wendy putting her touch to the test.

For example, there's the look-for-objects-in-the-tub-of-rice-while-blindfolded game, where anyone can be challenged to find hidden objects inside the tub of rice while being blindfolded. Think it's easy? It all boils down to having a good sense of touch.. =D

If touching things ain't your thing, how about sound? In the 3 jars above there is rice, barley, and red bean. Give it a shake and try and identify which one is which - Wendy managed to get all right!

Here we had a quick chat with some of the marketing staff, finding out that all the dinner guides, and the wait staff inside Dining in the Dark, are actually blind or visually impaired. That left the both of us in absolute awe.

While sipping your welcome drink you will also be given the drinks menu for the drinks that will be served during dinner. Choices are a little limited, ranging from soft drinks, fruit juice, or white and red wine. We suppose it helps to keep things simple, since it'd be hard to tell if that exotic drink you ordered really is the right one in the dark!

After the drink, there's one more step to complete right before starting dinner, which is surrendering all cellphones, cameras and watches (those glow-in-the-dark hands!). Lockers are provided to store all the valuables. This is done not so much because of safety in the dark, but because the owners take the whole "darkness" experience very seriously - not wanting anyone to be a smart alec and start taking pictures of the inside, or using their phones to see what they're actually having for dinner.

Once all that is done, it's time to head into the dark room for dinner! That's exactly what the door looks like. That is the last time you will see colour for the next hour. We admit it could probably use more decorating to exaggerate the entrance, something we hope can be improved.

Of course, we don't just open the door and rush in there ourselves! Everyone has to be led in. So how does that work? 

By forming a line with hands on each other's shoulders! The helpful guide will take the lead, and everyone follows behind. Honestly at this juncture everything feels like the beginning to a rollercoaster ride, or maybe even a haunted house. The anticipation, suspense, and fear of what is to come next is pretty thrilling!

And just like that, we're taken into a completely dark room. The guides will take each guest one by one to their seat, and give you a quick orientation of where your cutlery is, your water glass, etc. Honestly, being in an unfamiliar place in complete darkness is quite unsettling. We wouldn't be surprised if some people will just discover they are acutely afraid of the dark, and sure enough after dinner we heard there had already been customers who couldn't stand being inside that room after the first few minutes!

Can't see our food, we hear you say? Well, neither could we! LOL.

Obviously since it was all dark, we have no pictures of the food. Either way we won't talk about the food since knowing what is served beforehand would dampen half the experience anyway. All we'll say is the food is good, portions are really big (assuming you can eat it all in the dark! =P), and you won't feel cheated in the slightest.

Dining in the Dark may sound like another gimmick, but it really isn't. Try it for yourself and appreciate the time and effort it takes to serve a proper meal from beginning to end all in darkness. 

Wendy's summed up a few common questions we're sure everyone is bound to ask about this place, especially what happens inside the dining room... =P


1. So, I know it says Dining in the Dark, but just how dark is dark?
Imagine pitch black; even if you hold up your hand in front of your face, you won't be able to see your fingers! All we saw was a little red light in the corner of a room, being the security camera. Nothing else. I don't even think it's possible to achieve such darkness at home, because there'll always be some glare coming from the street lamps or a neighbour's house. None of that at Dining in the Dark, though!

2. What if I need to go to the toilet once I'm inside!?
We didn't need to go to the loo, but we did ask this question too (just in case!) - remember to get the name of your guide before you enter the dining room, and call out for his/her name if you need to go to the toilet. They will come to your aid.

3. How did you manage to eat?
We both used our cutlery to eat, but very, very slowly. (I put my spoon to my mouth but only tasted metal many times, not food :p) Some have said that they use their hands, nasi kandar-style! We encourage using your fingers to get acquainted with the plate, feel the shape, its grooves, etc. Don't be too bothered though, part of the experience is losing yourself in the moment, and finding out what works best for you.

4. Oh no, did you spill anything?
I'm pleased to report that neither of us had any accidents (unless you count that stain on my blouse we noticed when we were back in the light, haha). Without sight, you tend to be very careful, not making any sudden movements, and generally, very in tune about where your glass and cutlery is. 

5. I think I might be scared of the dark. Can I still go?
I would say go, because it was an interesting experience (and I now have a newfound appreciation for sight and the amazing visually impaired waiters and waitresses), and of course, challenging, if you think you're afraid of the dark. To be honest, the first minute or so was pretty nerve-wracking. I was wondering just how I was going to make it through an entire meal. Slowly though, your other senses kick in, and you begin to be more comfortable, especially knowing that your dining partner/friends are there with you. After we finished our last course of dinner, we didn't even want rush out immediately. Of course, once you're in there and you think that there's just no way you can do it, you can inform the wait staff and they will lead you out again. No worries. :)

6. Any tips for me?

  • Bring close friends or your other half to be there with you (unless you want to be a hero and try this alone - but it's quite a #foreveralone feeling, I would think). It can be quite romantic actually, not seeing anything but holding your partner's hand (of course, don't try any other funny business ok -_-).
  • Some people may tend talk louder, as a natural reaction to the loss of sight. I think we started talking a little louder than usual in the first minute or so ourselves too. But, once you've settled down, try to keep the volume to a minimum so that the waiters can hear and serve you better.
  • I also found that it was easier if I kept my eyes closed especially while eating because then I'm not constantly straining to see something that I can't.
  • Oh, and girls, you might wanna keep your hair tied because the tips of my hair were saucy when I came out! Haha.

7. Is there any dress code?
The best part is - nobody can see you when you're in there! Wear something you're comfortable with. Try to avoid loose clothing, especially loose long sleeves, because you don't want to be getting it into the gravy when you can't see!

8. Do they switch on the lights after dinner?
Interestingly, the inside of this room might well be KL's best kept secret thus far, for even Clementine, the Marketing Manager of Werner's who invited us there, hadn't even seen the inside lit up herself. Of course, no pictures or cameras are allowed inside. They do show you pictures of your food and tell you what the food is after dinner is over though!

On a side note, the people at Werner's have also launched their latest offering called 10 On Changkat, which is on the ground floor under Dining in the Dark. The idea behind this is aimed at simplifying the common "Happy Hour" routine in KL. Why bother having different prices for food and drink? Instead, offer over 100 types of food and tapas and drinks for 10 bucks each! A nifty idea if I may say so myself. =D

So don't wait any longer! Pop by Dining in the Dark for a truly unforgettable experience, and after that stop by 10 On Changkat for a cup of tea or coffee after. Perhaps you'll even go home with one of these 10 On Changkat poker chips, which allow you to redeem any item on the menu on your next visit! =D

One last look at 10 on Changkat before we headed home, absolutely stuffed and buzzing from a great experience!

Dining in the Dark Kuala Lumpur | Site
(10 on Changkat is on the Ground Floor)
No. 44A & 46A, Changkat Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +6 03 2110 0431
Fax: +6 03 2145 1375
For reservations you may also call: +6 012 251 5797

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