This is how it went for us at Dine in the Dark Bangkok…
“I stabbed my cheek with my fork!”
“Well, I just put my fingers in my wine.”
“Oh, I’ve lost a pea. Or maybe it was a piece of potato.”
“I think I buttered my plate, not my bread.”
Just as well we’re wearing the big black aprons handed to us before we entered!
Dine in the Dark Bangkok – it’s pitch black in here!
Dine in the Dark Bangkok is a private dining room (the DID restaurant) in Bangkok’s Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit hotel.
We knew we’d be dining in the dark, getting a teeny taste of of how it feels to be blind. But we hadn’t really comprehended what it would be like to eat in such absolute blackness.
We’re so used to seeing what we put in our mouths that the experience is completely unnerving! And kinda fun too.
At this dark dining restaurant, the servers are all visually impaired. And, here, the tables are turned.
Instead of sighted people guiding the blind, sight-impaired servers are guiding the sighted throughout the four courses served in the evening.
We get touchy-feely dining in the dark
We first sip a cocktail in the Sheraton’s BarSu lounge.
Then we surrender our cell phones and watches (anything that could shine light), put on our aprons and are led into the dining room.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” says our server-guide DiDi as we shuffle in a line, arms on the shoulders of the person in front, through heavy black curtains into the pitch-black restaurant and down some steps.
We’re seated side-by-side at our own table. DiDi suggests we get comfortable with our immediate surroundings by feeling around for the cutlery on the table in front of us. (We also reach out for each other – needing to know that our spouse is right there beside us!)
Dining in the Dark menu
All we know is that our food is a “surprise.”
When booking, you have the choice of Asian, Western, vegetarian or the “surprise” Dining in the Dark menu (mix of Asian and Western food). If you have any allergies or food dislikes, you can specify this and adaptations will be made for you.
Without the ability to see, our other senses are heightened. We can hear more clearly – in fact, the room seems almost loud with the sounds of other people talking.
But it’s a challenge relying on our sense of taste and texture to identify what we’re eating.
“Is this shrimp?”
“No. I think it’s chicken.”
“But isn’t chicken more rubbery and flavorful than shrimp?”
And here we think we have sophisticated palates that can make fine taste distinctions!
After poking an empty fork into our mouths too many times, it’s just easier to get touchy-feely with our food.
More often than not we use our fingers to eat.
Besides, nobody can see us.
After, back in BarSu (in what seems like blaring sunlight, even though it’s dimly lit), we’re shown photos of our meal. That gets a few laughs – especially since we’re wrong in what we guessed. (And because we don’t want to spoil the surprise, we’re going to leave you guessing what’s on the menu.)
Eyes wide open
The concept of dining in the dark originated in Switzerland when a blind pastor, Jorge Spielmann, started blindfolding his dinner guests so they could experience what eating is like for a blind person. He then opened a restaurant based on his idea.
Other dining in the dark restaurants soon followed in New York, London and Paris. Here in Canada, there are blind dining restaurants in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
For us, though, this was our first dark dinner. And it gave us a new appreciation for the obstacles the visually impaired have to overcome in a sighted world. In more ways than one, it was an eye-opening experience.