Dining In The Dark In Saigon

The city of Saigon on any day is a heady onslaught on all of your senses with its chaotic traffic, tooting horns, street food stalls, neon lights and general excitement around every corner. So to find a dark and silent sanctuary in the centre of this heaving city is heaven to the senses.

Down a quiet alley we found the perfectly named Noir Restaurant, which looks kind of like a rather non descript house. The divinely scented security man welcomed us with a smile and we sat comfortably on the sofa making a choice between an Eastern, Western or Vegetarian menu.

To prepare us for dining in complete darkness we were each given a blindfold and a puzzle to complete as we sipped our refreshing welcome drinks.  It was then time to lock away our belongings, no phones permitted, and be led gently into an utterly dark room by our blind waiter.

In the blackness we were handed our glasses of wine, cutlery and the first round of 4 dishes, which were eaten with a spoon.  Without sight our sense of smell became important, along with the texture of the food.  Our next tray of 4 dishes were eaten with a fork and the variety of textures and flavours was fun and mysterious.  Finally we were served 3 desserts, each entirely different to the next and equally delicious.

When there are absolutely zero distractions the only thing left to do is chat.  No phones for Facebook, messaging or photos and no people to watch, décor to admire or food to see.  Just us and our conversation and at no stage did our eyes ever become accustomed to the dark.  It was simply pitch black.

As we were led out of the darkness the light was almost painful and we returned to our comfortable sofa, surrounded by thoroughly tasteful decoration, which we all of a sudden noticed.  Each dish was then revealed with a photographic presentation on an iPad, detailed descriptions of each ingredient and the various cooking methods.  It was interesting to see when we had been right, wrong and completely bewildered.  The food had been creatively presented and in our blindness we had simply tucked in, oblivious to the care and attention taken in preparation.

This was a fun and memorable experience, something a little different in a city where chaos and colour is so vibrantly thrust at you from every angle.

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