Dining in the Dark, Changkat Bukit Bintang KL – what you need to know

So, I just had my first experience on dining in the dark yesterday night, apparently something not entirely unique in some countries (Bangkok has one such restaurant and Japan has 6 -7) but definitely something “revolutionary” for us Malaysians since we are as usual, slow to catch up on the scene.

Food was good; simple and enjoyable but nothing to swoon over. However, it is worth the price paid and frankly, dining here in the dark is all about the EXPERIENCE. It’s a plus point that in the capable hands of the Werner’s group (think El Cerdo, El Cerdito, The Beer Bar, The Whisky Bar) food was delicious as always.

dining in the dark kl - changkat bukit bintang

No pictures were possible as no cameras, no phones or watches are allowed entry. Yes you read correctly. No phones. No watches. No cameras or anything reflective.
You dine in pitch darkness.

Since everyone’s in the dark (pardon the pun) about Dining in the Dark, let me shed some light on the topic. :P

No. Questions Answers
1 How dark was dark? ABSOLUTELY pitch darkness. COMPLETELY black out.
2 How much is the food? Food is a multi course menu.
A set dinner consist of an appetizer, main and dessert. Complimentary after dinner coffee & tea included as well.Price is RM88++.
3 How’s the menu like? There are no options available. Only one menu is offered at any one time.
You do not know what each dish is until you TASTE it. Then again, you might not guess what you had correctly either.
A lovely mystery isn’t it? :)
4 Can I specify my preference?
  1. Yes, do inform in advance if you have any allergies/do not eat beef/seafood/spicy etc.
  2. Vegetarian alternatives can be arranged
5 Is it true that I’m served by the blind? Yes. And admirably sweet, capable blind people too! :)
Note: The manager, run staff as well as the waiters are ALL blind.
6 Must I make a reservation? Yes, please do.
Dining in the dark KL is open everyday except Mondays.
7 Where is the restaurant? On Changkat Bukit Bintang, upstairs of  Werner’s/Ten on Changkat
8 How does this whole dining in the dark work?
  1. Announce your arrival at the restaurant
  2. Order your drinks and read the menu. The simple menu only states minimal information like the number of appetisers and the combination for each course. For example, our menu states that our appetiser is a trio of different starters.
  3. Surrender your phones and watches. These are to be kept in a cupboard OUTSIDE of the dining room and you will be given the key to be kept with you throughout the dinner.
  4. Wait to be escorted to the dining room
  5. One of the blind staff or the manager Nicole will come to escort you and your partner/group of friends inside.
  6. You will not get to see how is it like inside the dining room at all as it is already in pitch darkness
    Once your meal is over, call for the wait staff again and you will be escorted out.
  7. To go in, you’re advised to hold on to the blind staff as well as to your friends by the shoulders in a single file. Think of the “chut-chut train” game you played when you’re a kid if you’re in need of a visual aid!
  8. Once inside, you will be lead blindly (for the lack of a better word) to your seat/table.
    If you are wearing heels etc do not worry (like I did) about uneven floors as there were no dangerous steps or uneven ground
  9. You will be told where exactly your seat is and once everyone are seated comfortably, your wait staff will proceed to serve you your drinks and food
  10. There will be a short intro as the staff will explain to help with your bearings; glass on your top right, cutleries on your right, napkin in front, etc.
    Feel free to grope around in the darkness to familiarise yourself and your “designated” dining space.
  11. Sit in the dark and converse with your dining partners/partner as per normal (if you can).
  12. Food is served course by course and your server will announce his presence when he/she brings the plate. However, no description of the food is provided. You will have absolutely no idea of what was served til you put it into your mouth and taste it! 
  13. You can eat with your cutleries or your hand. It’s entirely up to you. 
9 Only 1 menu?  Yes and it changes every few weeks.
10 Can the staff talk? Yes dear. Duhhhh, they are blind, not dumb.
In fact they speak very good English!
11  Is it halal?  Dining in the dark serves wine and beers. It is pork free.

Any other burning questions? Do leave a comment and I’ll add it in the table above! I hope you will find the list of FAQs useful. :)

Before I go into the description of the food; which really isn’t the focus here, I would like to share some advice/basic etiquette of dining in the dark.

Everyone is here to savour the fun moment. No one can see anybody. Thus we rely on our other senses (the five sense organs of the human body being vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) to “operate” normally while dining in the dark.
So please do not ruin for others by:

1. Being VERY LOUD.
It’s amazing how some people think that being cloaked by darkness gives them some sort of license to act like XXXXXX (please insert whatever description you deem fitting after reading the below).
Really, just because you are “blind” doesn’t mean you have to make it up by being heard. No one wants to hear every single word of your conversation and enjoy having you screeching like a hyena throughout the night. Yes, we are all thrilled/excited to be here and when you dine with friends it’s natural to chatter animatedly since this is such a novel experience. But do bear in mind that the tables are close to each other and when it’s in the dark, our hearing may have “sharpen” slightly so we could be more sensitive to sounds.
And it’s no fun for others (such was the case for our table) to NOT be able to hear even our dining partner’s voice! It was THAT BAD! During the introduction of our session, none, and I mean NONE of us could hear what the waiter was saying.
Also the experience of dining in the dark was about savouring the moment; listening to the wonderful soothing music, relaxing and letting our senses took over as well as being more aware of your surroundings via your other senses’ organs. There were no distractions; no phones, no Twitter/FB/Instagram, no sense of time nor urgency. It fact, it could even be therapeutic, depending on how you “see” it. Unfortunately half our dinner was ruined as the group at the other table totally had a ball and was inconsiderately loud.
It was really difficult for us to relax as we were really irritated. There were 5 of us, with one being a staff from Werner’s itself (identified as T for the sake of anonymity) agreed though T couldn’t really do anything. T was seated right beside me and had to strain to hear me as we conversed about the food.
In some cases we had to be louder than our neighbours to be heard, which really ruins it further for others. Imagine if every single table and diner has to achieve higher decibel to be heard, the whole restaurant would be a damn auction market!
E (again for anonymity) one of the BLIND staff actually admitted (only when we bought up the subject) that E and E’s colleagues were having “slight” problems maneuvering around our tables as they couldn’t HEAR each other because of the ruckus, thus bumping into each other a few times that night. Thankfully, being thoroughly professionally and capable (kudos to the team!) they managed the whole night without any unforeseen incidents. Frankly, blind or otherwise, if I had a full plate of hot, oily food poured onto me that night, I doubt I’ll be very nice about it.
So PLEASE, please do be considerate of your fellow diners as well as the nice blind staff as they are doing their best to ensure you have a lovely experience. It’s really thoughtless of you to distract the blind with loud noise.

2. Trying anything funny.
There’s infra-red CCTV all over the place for the safety of the diners so no stealing, no molesting, etc. Ermm ..as for stripping naked (I know some of you are already thinking of it), well, it’s not encouraged though honestly, there is no way anyone could spot you at all.

Ok, now that I have gotten that out of the way, I’ll move on to the food.

It was a very good training ground for me that night. As a discerning gourmet & food writer, I pride myself on being able to detect flavours accurately and being quite knowledgeable about food in general. But I had to admit, I rely on my sight the most, then smell before moving on to taste.

So even I was a little uncertain myself that evening. While I avoided using hands entirely, I took great care to try to eat each dish slowly, chewing and allowing the flavours to sit in my mouth longer as my mind worked to identify the ingredients.
It helped that the menu shown to us prior to dinner did state that we will be served a trio of appetisers, followed by a trio of mains and lastly 5 different types of desserts. Also the plates used are sectioned in the same number of the dishes; for example our appetisers and mains are served on long rectangular plates which has 3 partitions separately by a slight bump, so by pushing my fork across the plate, I can know determine which appetiser or main and thus I could eat them one by one instead of getting them all mixed up.

The menu this time round was straightforward enough. Cold shrimp cocktails, a salad with cheese and watermelon and another salad with fried potato cutlet with bits of chicken. Mains were linguine with smoked duck, chicken thigh roulade on a bed of spinach as well as another chicken dish which I fail to remember now what exactly it was!
See the importance of sight? If I had a visual now I would have remembered it.

Desserts were chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, luscious tiramisu, pannacotta and stewed fruits. All in all, it was an experience that EVERYONE should try once! :dd

To book yourself a seat/table, give them a holler at:
Dining in the Dark Kuala Lumpur (on top of Werners’ or now it is Ten on Changkat)
44A & 46A Changkat Bukit Bintang
Tel: +603 2110 0431
Reservation: +6012 251 5797
Email: [email protected]
Opening hours: 6.30pm – 10.30pm (Tuesday – Sunday)

So, any thoughts? Leave a comment here! :)

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