It sounds pretty crazy! Once you enter the totally blacked-out eating area, you can’t see a single thing. Your serving staff can’t see anything either. And you can’t choose what you want from a menu (in fact, there is no menu). But believe it or not, these are the precise factors that make Dining in The Dark Samui such an exciting and memorable restaurant experience!
Well-positioned on the ring-road in Bophut, just 100 metres west of the entrance to The Wharf, Dining in The Dark is set back a few metres from the road giving space for several cars to park (there’s room for more around the back).
The theme of this restaurant, as you will have already gathered from its name, is that you eat in complete darkness (and that’s why it’s for people over 12 years of age!). But you’ll start off in the atmospherically-lit bar just inside the entrance where you’ll be greeted by the charming and friendly owner/hostess, Helen Keates.
Here you can have a drink whilst Helen briefs you on the ‘mechanics’ of how the dinner will proceed (which is exciting in itself!). She’ll also ask you to place all electrical items (including mobile phones and watches) into individual private lockers so that there’s no chance of even a speck of light entering the dining room and potentially spoiling the experience for you and everyone else inside. Then Helen will hand you over to your visually-impaired waiter/waitress for the evening who’ll take you through the black-out curtains, past the sealed ‘buffer’ area and then into the dining room – so it truly will be a case of the blind leading the blind. And who better to do that than someone who’s totally familiar with living in a world of darkness.
They will carefully place you at your table and give you easy-to-understand instructions about where everything is and how to go about eating! Your sight’s been taken away but it’s not a silent affair, too, as there’s music in the background and although there’ll most probably be other diners around who will also be chatting, you certainly won’t be eavesdropping on each other’s conversations as the tables are well-separated (and you’ll have to take my word for that as you’ll never see them!).
So onto the food, and in order to make the experience even more interesting, unlike ‘normal’ places where you tell them what you want to eat, here you let them know the day before what you can’t (or don’t like to) eat and they create a personalised 9-course (3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts) tasting menu just for you, as part of the fun is guessing (with your dining companion) exactly what it is that you’re eating!
As you’re in total darkness, every single item in each dish is prepared in bite-sized pieces and is 100% edible (no bones, skin, offal, insects or other surprises) and is scrupulously clean (you can’t check for marks on your spoon yourself, after all!). Without giving any of the secrets away, I can let you know that a wide range of top-quality produce goes into each dinner, including the best Wagyu beef, especially imported tuna and the like. Vegans and vegetarians are also well-catered for, as are all other diners with special requirements.
“and they create a personalised 9-course tasting menu just for you.”
What I can say is that the ultra-imaginative (and perfectly-sighted) chef makes sure that each and every dish has a range of delicious flavours and interesting textures that will have your mind spinning as it tries to distinguish one secret ingredient from another by taste and touch alone!
And the aforementioned chef is Stephen Ashley, a dynamic young man who’s already worked at some notable places around the world, including London’s Coppa Club at Tower Bridge, Queensland’s Kurunda Hotel and Samui’s The Larder. He brings with him an extensive knowledge of cooking combined with a keen passion for his craft which makes him the ideal person to have in the kitchen of a restaurant that places such a heavy accent on the culinary aspect of dining.
When you’ve finished your meal (it normally takes around one hour), you’re led back out into the bar area again (which seems extra-bright now!) where Helen is ready to ‘debrief’ you over another drink. She’ll ask you exactly what you thought you’d had in each dish, so try to make a mental note at the time of what you were eating. She’ll even have pictures on her laptop to show you what the food looked like should you not believe her!
There are now several similar-themed restaurants around the world, with the most notable being the first one (called Blind Cow in Zurich) that was opened by a blind man, Reverend Spielmann. The idea that others would like to try dining in the dark first came to him during a dinner at his home when several fully-sighted guests blindfolded themselves so that they would be able to share their host’s experience.
And now we have Dining in The Dark Samui – a most welcome alternative to beach dining, offering delicious culinary surprises and a fun dining experience you’ll never forget!
The first dinner is served at 7:00 pm and the last at 9:30 pm.
For further information and reservations (strongly advised so that you can give them your requirements) either visit their website: www.dininginthedarksamui.com or telephone 0 922 590 510.