Review: Dining in the Dark KL
We had the opportunity of visiting Dining in the Dark KL while last in Kuala Lumpur. Dining in the Dark is a concept restaurant where your meal takes place in a room void of all light. The idea is that your other sense are heightened giving way to new tastes and sensations.
We reserved and paid for our booking online via their website, but arrived about 15 minutes late due to a babysitting issue at the Renaissance Hotel where we were staying. The restaurant does not accept children under 12 so we nearly lost our reservation and money, something to think about when relying on a babysitting service.
Upon arrival, we were given a welcome drink. This was mixed by one of the hosts and he had us guess the contents. We didn’t fare too well as two of the ingredients were new to us.
We were then given a small bucket containing peas, rice and 4 paperclips. This is part of a pre-dinner game. We were presented blindfolds then asked to find all 4 paperclips in the bucket. It took me a good 2 minutes before I found the first as the textures were quite deceiving. Eventually, we managed to finish the task after plenty of laughing.
Once we finished our game and got a basic orientation from the host we were asked to lock away our cellphones and anything else that could emit light, such as watches. We locked away our belongings and headed to the entrance to the eating area where we awaited our darkness expert.
In order to get to your table, you form a train with your guide. The guides are all visually impaired and blind persons A.K.A “Darkness Experts”. We had a very friendly guide named Darius helping us.
Darius guided us slowly, step by step, to the dining table. The room was so dark it was impossible to get any sense of the size of it, it felt both infinite and cosy at the same time.
Once we arrived at the table Darius guided us to sit down and we were given a brief orientation on where to find our utensils and glasses. At first the simple act of finding the wine glass without smashing everything across the table was quite difficult, but within minutes your body adapts and you can navigate your table a bit less clumsily.
We opted to take the wine pairing menu and were served our appetizers and our first glass of wine. In front of us they laid a plate with 4 separate appetizers each in its own small bowl. We would feel each one and then taste it. Some of them had sauces and one was a noodle based dish so the textures sometimes took you by surprise.
Paper napkins on your right below the utensils. Don’t forget that one. It comes in handy when poking and prodding your food. The appetizers were complete (I am not going to ruin the surprise). I enjoyed all 4 of them so we were off to a good start.
As we digested our appetizers I noticed the ambience of the room was incredible. I still could not comprehend the size or layout. I heard distant voices, yet at the same time they sounded so close. Were they close or far? I tried to see my hand. I think I can see it, I moved it, I could still see it. My mind was filling in the blanks and trying to compensate for my lack of sight. I couldn’t see anything.
After clearing our appetizers, Darius brought our soups in. Two soup’s were served in small cups in order to sip the soup. Great! I had a new white shirt on (as a digital nomad I actually only own 1 shirt with buttons), didn’t want to ruin it by aiming soup at myself.
I tried the first soup, it was a familiar taste, I recognised the textures too, but it was not a soup I’ve ever had before. The second soup was completely unfamiliar but as we found out afterwards it was the only soup which I had tasted before, on many occasions. Things truly do taste different in the dark.
When you are orientated on your table they tell you where to put your hands to find anything you need. I put mine forward and my wife’s were there, just as we were told. We chatted and laughed, enjoying the darkness and each others company while awaiting our main course.
Darius cleared up once more and brought in the second wine and main course. I have fairly decent palette when it comes to wine but did not even notice we were served a rose and not a white this time around. The darkness does play tricks!
For our mains, we were giving three dishes. I loved the first two but was unsure of the third. The third was actually something I quite like eating (I’m still not ruining the surprise), so I found out afterwards. The portions were all perfectly sized. Not too small and not too big. After finishing the mains, you were not at bursting point, but at dessert point!
I asked Darius if we could get some more water in our glasses. He asked me if we would like to pour it ourselves and offered to give us some guidance. We poured ourselves some water and nothing broke or spilt. We were becoming “Darkness Apprentices”.
Dessert came. Five of them to be precise. We were instructed to start from the middle and work our way anti-clockwise. The deserts were all yummy and correctly portioned, except the last desert which seemed slightly larger as if maybe to invoke some sense of gluttony. I finished it and was completely satisfied.
We sat in the dark a bit and carried on talking. Hands in front. After a few minutes, Darius come by and asked whether we wanted to stay and chat longer or head on out. Having absolutely no sense of time we decided it best to head on out as we had a deadline to pick up the little guy.
Darius guided us to the door of the bar and we stepped out into the light. The hosts had dimmed them before we exited, but it was still quite confusing on the eyes. We got our things from the locker and settled on the balcony for a glass of wine. We had been in there for over an hour and half. Thirty minutes longer than we guessed.
We enjoyed another glass of “white” wine and were shown the menu which we ate. This was very entertaining as you try match your guesses to the real food, I definitely did nowhere near as well as Mandy. They then gave us vouchers for drinks downstairs at Opium bar if we wanted to continue the evening. We did, but alas, we were out of time.
It was a truly a magical experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back there in a heartbeat. I can clearly see why it’s rated the best restaurant and best place to eat in Kuala Lumpur.
Dining in the Dark KL is located in the very trendy Changkat Bukit Bintang and can also be found online at http://dininginthedarkkl.com/