Food & Drinks

Eating in pitch darkness

Chicken Wonton. PHOTO | COURTESY
Chicken Wonton. PHOTO | COURTESY 

For anyone with an adventurous streak, fine dining in the dark is exciting.

Popularised by the Dans le Noir chain of restaurants, this concept first gained popularity in Nairobi three years ago.

With the buzz having somewhat died down, Soi Restaurant at dusitD2 is seeking to bring back the experience with a fresh take from what you may have experienced before.

With the Gizani experiences, for instance, I recall us getting into a single file after which everyone placed their left hand on the shoulder of the person in front before being guided into a pitch black room by visually impaired staff who were to be our aides for the evening.

When I got to Soi, about eight guests were already seated around a dimly lit and well set table with eye masks at hand. The blindfolds added a certain je ne sais quoi which would be appealing on a date night.

The menu for the evening had five courses: starter, salad, soup, main and dessert. We were instructed to put on our blindfolds after which a waiter placed the dishes before us.

My first instinct was to smell it to try discern what it might be. I then touched around the plate to get a feel for the dish. At this point, you will likely abandon cutlery and go in with your hands, but the struggle to use a fork and knife has got to be part of the appeal.

When I took that first bite, I was a lot keener to savour it than I would have likely been had I seen it first. Then followed the excitement as everyone tried to guess the ingredients they were tasting. “Eggs!” “Coconut...does anyone taste coconut?” “That’s not a fish cake...that’s rice!” “Is this calamari or prawns?”

Prawns in curry

When we had all finished our dishes, we were instructed to take off our blindfolds and the chef explained what was in it.

The main dish turned out to be a red curry with prawns and egg fried rice that looked nothing like what I had imagined it would, and if you are even a little competitive or consider yourself a foodie then it will feel victorious knowing you made the correct guesses, right down to some of the spices or dressing used.

Compared to dining in pitch darkness which you get comfortable after your first course, having a blindfold on and knowing there is a chef or waiter around watching you fumble around your plate can be a little daunting if you are self conscious.

On the other hand, being able to take off your blindfold after each dish heightens the experience as you do actually get to see what you just ate and even chat to the chef about it.

It is also incredible to note how without sight to distract you by looking around the restaurant, other diners or even your phone, the smell and taste of everything on your plate is a lot more amplified, and this is one of the reasons to try the now monthly dining in the dark experience at Soi Restaurant, scheduled to take place on the first Thursday of the month.