It has been a few weeks since I returned from a quick trip to Singapore for a weekend away and one of the real highlights was the amazing night that we had at NOX.
We only went for 4 days and did some investigating before hand on which restaurants we should try. We headed straight to trip adviser to look at what people had been saying about the restaurants on offer in Singapore and one that stood out and came in as number 3 was NOX – Dine in the Dark.
We were intrigued reading the very first review about the whole experience and went straight online to try and book at table for one of the nights we were there. As this weekend coincided with our anniversary we thought that this was a great restaurant to go to on our first night in Singapore but alas there were no bookings available for that night or the Saturday or Sunday nights but finally on our last night we managed to get a booking to see if we agreed with the almost universal delight at dining in the dark.
And we were not disappointed at all in every aspect of the night. We arrived at our appointed dining time and headed into one of the only lit areas in the restaurant – the cocktail bar and were greeted warmly by the staff and settled in to get the run down on the night ahead.
After having a look at the cocktail menu, we selected delicious cocktails to begin our night and then it was time to decide whether we wanted wine pairing with meal, cocktails with the meal, a bottle of wine or nothing at all.
So we chose to go with the wine pairing. Jose Manuel Pacheco was the manager for our visit and it turns out he is a native Perth guy who had lived just streets from us in City Beach (small world really!) and he quickly gave us the rundown.
The dining area was upstairs and when we had finished our cocktail and our amuse bouche we would be lead over to some lockers where we could deposit our phones and any other things we were carrying and we would then be introduced to our waiter who would lead us up stairs into the dining room.
One of the things that I loved about this restaurant is that they employ vision impaired staff as their waiters and when we thought about it, that really makes sense as they are more aware and able to navigate the space without any crashes or spills.
Jose explained that we would be served four dishes with each course and they would be served in bowls and each bowl was placed on the serving tray to correspond with a time on the clock. He advised that we should start with the bowl at 6 o clock and then work up to 9, then 12 and finish with the bowl in the 3 o clock location.
We would not know the menu before hand and after the meal when we came back down stairs we would have a chance to actually find out what we had eaten. Jose was also quick to let us know that they would not be serving a range of strange dishes that might challenge diners.
Then it was time to head upstairs, but first our waiter met us at the bottom of the stairs and we shook hands with him and then it was time to put one hand on his shoulders so he could lead me upstairs with Trevor following behind with his hand on my shoulder.
Once we were at the top of the stairs we went through a curtain and then we hit the darkness. It was pitch black, you could not even see your hands in front of your face. This was the most amazing experience and once we were seated it was explained that our fork and spoons could be found on our right hand side and also the water that we wanted to drink was served to us in the bottle and we were to serve it ourselves…
This was all a new experience of course and before we knew it the first wine was served followed closely by the 4 entrees. We poured our own water, just making sure we placed a finger in to make sure we did not pour it all over the table and settled in to try our first dishes.
I am not going to go into all the details about the dishes but they were each delicious and for entree there was a pork dish, a seafood dish and a delightful risotto as well. The forth one was vegetables and filled with great flavours as well. We debated the other ingredients and along with everyone else who was in the restaurant conversation happened like it always did when dining but of course there were no visual cues and once you got used to it it felt very natural. I did however find myself closing my eyes for much of the time…it just felt like the right thing to do.
Main course was served with a new rich pinot served to go with it and we enjoyed lamb, chicken, fish and another vegetarian dish. These were again complex, full of interesting flavours and it was great fun trying to work out exactly what we were eating.
After a break and more water and the completion of our wine the final course was served and we again delighted in not knowing what we would be tasting and the thrill of placing part of the meal in your mouth and exploring the tastes and the smells without those visual cues.
There was not one dish that we did not enjoy and we were duly lead down stairs where Jose greeted us and we bid farewell to our fabulous waiter. We re adjusted to being able to see again and sat down to fill out a questionnaire to see if we could identify the dishes that we had been eating.
We did really well in the end and got about 80% of the dishes right and could name many of the ingredients used.
Jose explained that they do not keep the same menu for longer than 4 or 5 weeks and work with seasonally available produce to ensure that the menu is ever evolving and filled with great dishes.
This was the most amazing dining experience that we have ever had and one that we would both highly recommend to anyone who is visiting Singapore. I have nothing but deep respect for the fabulous waiters who did a great job taking us through the upstairs dining experience and putting us at ease the minute we entered the full darkness.
A real treat not to be missed the next time you are in Singapore. The business cards for the restaurant even have all the details on the bottom of them in braille!
NOX Dine in the Dark
269 Beach Road
phone: +65 6298 0708