What is it about dining that makes it one of the most enjoyable experiences when with either family or friends? For one thing, it’s definitely the company—being surrounded by people you love and swapping stories. But the most obvious factor is the food. Being able to partake in an experience that thrills all your senses: seeing the dishes, tasting and savoring each bite, smelling the aromas, hearing the crackle of something crispy and more.
Truly, what an experience! Could it get any better than this? Apparently, it can. Imagine a dining experience where all of your senses but one are heightened. Introducing Noche, Manila’s ultimate Dine in the Dark restaurant.
Nestled in one of Makati’s busiest hotels, Noche is where customers are taken on a gastronomic journey without actually getting to see what they’re eating. If you’re looking for something new to spruce up your weekly dates, or want to try something out with your barkada, then this is definitely it.
To kick start this gastronomic adventure, head on over to Granvia Cafe at A. Venue Suites Hotel, Makati. Guests will be led to a waiting area where they will be asked it they prefer a two, three or five course meal and if they would like the meat, fish, vegetarian or chef’s surprise menu. After a few minutes, the guests are then led to the floor above where they will have to surrender their cellphones, watches and all other gadgets that emit light.
This is to be expected, since after all, it isn’t called dine in the dark for nothing. After surrendering everything needed, guests are then given a run-down as to what to expect when brought to the pitch black dining area. Everything from your cutlery to basic FAQ’s will be discussed by one of Noche’s wait staff.
Diners are then brought into the dining area either by twos or by small groups. You will be led by their wait staff who is either completely blind or severely visually impaired.
Now—warning—when I say the dining area is pitch black, I’m not exaggerating. I placed my hand in front of my face to see if I could at least make out it’s outline, and no such luck. It was THAT dark. Immediately, I noticed how my hearing seemed to be more on point than usual. I was picking up everything from footsteps to conversations more than three tables away.
All of the wait staff are blind or visually impaired. But, nonetheless, they are eager to serve you through your dinning experience!
Oh and, to add to this, because your hearing becomes more heightened, you may feel that everyone is talking louder than usual but they really aren’t. So, don’t worry, talk with your normal volume and do your best to avoid shouting at your fellow diners.
Once seated, you can either be seated with your companions or with other diners, which I absolutely love! There’s something about not being able to see each other that allows you to open up more freely. You start off with the basic hi, hellos, but end up laughing like old buddies by the end of the meal. Being able to dine without “judging” the person in front of you and just taking them in based on your conversations is definitely one the best aspects of this experience.
But of course that doesn’t trump finally being served your dishes! Your wait staff will tell you where your cutlery is and where your dish is being placed, but after that you’re on your own! I found the experience particularly amusing because the dish had so many components that were familiar, but when asked what it was, I couldn’t put my finger on it! Having ordered the chef’s surprise, I couldn’t figure out what herbs were being used, what meat was cooked and more. It was frustrating because the flavors were so familiar but I just wasn’t always sure—and neither were my table mates!
We went through all the courses trying to guess what was being served and, I won’t lie, there were a couple of times when I gave up trying to eat with cutlery and used my hands instead. After you finish your meal or when feeling uneasy in the pitch black, the wait staff is ready to help you navigate your way out of the dining area.
It takes a while to adjust to being out in the light again, but that changes when you suddenly see the line-up of dishes that were served. After eating, diners are able to see what they ate and that’s when you start hearing, “Oh my gosh! I told you it was chicken!” or “I knew it was mashed potato!” Once everyone’s had a good laugh seeing all the dishes, you can then claim your belongings and be off.
But not before saying goodbye to the wait staff who were employed from the non-government organization, Resources for the Blind. The said NGO provides job opportunities and valuable resources to the blind and visually impaired. And for just one night, we allowed ourselves to step into their world, coming out of it with a deeper appreciation for what we have, and with full stomachs.
Dine In The Dark Manila by Noche
A Venue Suites, Makati City