Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dining In The Dark & Ten On Changkat

Trust El Cerdo's Werner Kuhn to come up with two of Changkat Bukit Bintang's most eccentric experiments: a restaurant where customers eat while cloaked in total darkness & another where more than 100 tapas & cocktails are sold for only RM10++ each.

First, Dining In The Dark: thoughtfully crafted, multi-course mystery menus are served nightly (except Mondays) in a completely blackened hall by visually impaired wait staff whose calm, humor & concentration can put their sighted counterparts to shame.

The belief that visual deprivation instantly heightens other senses, including taste, is debatable, though customers will probably pay more attention to their food here, devoid of distractions like cellphones & cameras (those will be placed in personal lockers outside the dining chamber).

This nearly two-hour experience begins on a first-floor lounge with a friendly briefing. Customers then place their hands on a smooth-moving guide's shoulders or on those of their friends ahead of them, carefully walking single-file into a curtain-shrouded maze of amazement.

Pre-dinner sensory games: figure out which containers contain rice, beans & barley (shake 'em!) & fish out paperclips from a grain-filled package. Sip sangria & cranberry cocktails before braving the ultimate eclipse & taking stabs in the dark about what we're eating.

Spoiler alert: Potential customers who want to preserve the element of surprise, skip these next four paragraphs. Once seated, everyone is progressively presented with plates of unknown recipes. Forks & spoons are supplied, but we recommend using fingers to feel through the food, while music from The Corrs floats through the background.

Sure, it's not an original idea: there are dining-in-the-dark outlets in London, Paris, Hong Kong & elsewhere. But folks who suppress their cynicism will have fun eating in a room where they can't see their hands in front of them, much less their neighbors. Patrons with exhibitionist proclivities could disrobe & devour their entire meal au naturel.

Major spoiler alert: While the menu is expected to evolve, the current one features recipes whose basic components might be easy to deduce, from a prawn cocktail to a watermelon salad, chicken roulade with spinach to linguine with smoked duck, vanilla ice cream to panna cotta. But it's still mighty fun to sniff out the subtleties: who knew the salad contained feta cheese?

Final spoiler alert: After exiting, customers are shown photos of the food. Gimmicky or genius? Well, we paid RM88++ per person & enjoyed both the satisfyingly tasty, terrifically textured, hugely portioned food _ 11 items altogether _ & the overall experience. Recommended, though we hope the menu will eventually take more risks & become more challenging for customers.

Post-dinner coffee & tea are provided. Wine can be ordered for RM20++ per glass.

Be sure to also try the offerings at Ten On Changkat, which takes over from Werner's street-level Pisa, below Dining In The Dark. Changkat's happiest hours can be found here.

For RM10++ per plate, feast on fare that runs the gamut from chicken cannelloni to lamb satay.

Banana, chocolate & honey pizza. By the way, it's forgivable for now, but six of the items currently served at Dining In The Dark come from Ten On Changkat's menu.

Scores of highballs here cost RM10++ too, excellent considering they're pretty potent. Choose from the likes of the Mile High Ball (midori, kirschwasser, bitter lemon soda) & Dubonnet Highball (Dubonnet liquor, French vermouth, ginger ale).

Dining In The Dark (dinners daily except Mondays),
44A & 46A, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2110-0431
Ten On Changkat (open daily from 4pm),
Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my

45 comments:

  1. Dining in the dark? No thanx...cose I liked to be tantalised by the visuals of d food before savouring them...hehe :P

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    1. Ulric: you have a good point there, though i think this is worth trying once. it's fun, and it does put the brain cells, taste buds & imagination to work =)

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  2. Saw lots of photos of "total darkness" on Instagram tonight.. looks like many food bloggers were there tonight. Or could you not see them? ;P

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    1. Baby Sumo: i wonder if some folks might try to organize blind dates here. while it's not necessarily romantic in the traditional sense, it could be exciting, heh :D

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    2. haha organizing blind dates there would be excellent!

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    3. KY: hopefully true love will blossom here someday =)

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  3. Ok I'll admit, we were there for free tonight! We didn't get corrs though; we had enya playing in the background :D P.S - blind dates are in fact an upcoming idea here. ;P

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    1. Drops of Contentment: oooh, i'm not sure i agree with the musical choices here, cos they're a little too sleepy for me. i think something more uptempo might work better, maybe =) and double oooh, here's hoping those blind dates don't turn into orgies (kidding!) :D

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  4. You're fast! Didn't they just have this last night? You met Eiling & Becky (Rebecca Saw) there? Or you went on your own on an earlier night?

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    1. Suituapui: interestingly enough, after all these years, i haven't met eiling in person yet. hopefully someday =)

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  5. What an interesting concept! Saw this before on some American TV shows and thought it's quite an experience to remember. I guess if we're going here for dinner, there's no need to dress up or make up! :P

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    1. Iamthewitch: oooh, it's definitely quite memorable. i'd like to try this again eventually, with different sets of friends, cos i think many people will enjoy it :D

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  6. I want to try it!!!
    Seen this in New York. Surprised and excited that it has reached KL!

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    1. The Yum List: it's definitely a bold move, but werner kuhn is one of the restaurant greats in KL, and he and his team have made this a very enjoyable experience. congrats to them all! :D

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  7. Sound interesting and fun, but I prefer to see my dish, hehehe.

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    1. CK: heheh, that's true, it can be quite messy to eat without being able to see what's on the table :D

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  8. Dining in the dark! I've always wondered if it was just a novelty / gimmick or whether it enhances the eating experience in any way ... guess now there's an easy (although perhaps not that cheap) way to find out!

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    1. Timing: i think the novelty factor is high, so it's probably not something that most of us will try on a regular basis, heh =) oooh, actually i think the prices here are truly fair for the food. after calculating, each item served during the meal cost us less than RM10 :D

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  9. Wowwwww! I've heard of this concept before in New York or something!! HAHA I would be afraid though :P During one of my school camps, we had to do this and they gave us stuff that felt like dirt and worms :S

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    1. Vien: heheh, yeah, there's an element of trust that's needed here, but i think we can rest assured that we'll be fed good food. no high school pranksters running the kitchen here (or at least not so far, heheh) :D

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  10. i saw rebecca posting bout this too :) it sounds fun and mysterious. but lacking a sense of safety for me :P

    Latest: Bid goodbye to 2012 with Fireworks!

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    1. Fish: oooh, it's a nice little adventure, something quite different from a regular dinner. good fun, i think most diners here might feel the same =)

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  11. wah look who decided to conquer the world... i mean changkat ^^ well done werner!!

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    1. AugustDiners: i've never spoken much with werner, but i still remember meeting him for the first time way back when el cerdo was that tiny outlet at tengkat tong shin, and i remember liking him as a person. have been glad to watch his success, i do think he's a decent dude =)

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  12. I've been waiting for this concept to hit Malaysia. Finally!

    Its a nice experience as a whole. Grom a gastronomic sense its quite an adventure. But depending who we hit the dine in the dark experience, it can be quite a sexy thing to do.

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    1. Missyblurkit: yeah, let's hope it's here to stay! many of werner's outlets keep changing their names and concepts =) yeah, i think adventurous spirits will like this place. and heh, i tried to play footsie in the dark under the table, but it was quite difficult to find the other person's foot! :D

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    2. haha...it takes practice to play footsie:D but yeah its fun...and sexy to dine in the dark.

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    3. Missyblurkit: heh, practice will make perfect, i hope! and i hope you'll have a sexy dinner here :D

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  13. I'm not sure if I'm entirely comfortable dining in the dark. I like to know what I'm about to eat lol.

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    1. Bangsar-Babe: heheh, my friend was apprehensive that there would be snails. but the food choices here turned out be pretty safe in the end, ingredients like chicken that nearly everyone can consume =)

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  14. How much do you pay? I didn't read half the post because of your spoiler alerts! But I read enough to make me want to go :) There is one in London but I never made it before I left..

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    1. YouHadYourLunch: oops, oh yeah, you're right, the price for the meal was in the spoiler-alert paragraph, heh. we paid RM88++ per person, really worth it considering there were 11 different items served, and nearly all those items were pretty tasty. and ya, i almost ended up at london's one during my last visit a couple of years back, but didn't manage to. the reviews for that one was a bit mixed, with some people complaining about the food, but i guess it's difficult to please many customers, heh =)

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    2. Haha thanks for the price! Sounds reasonable. So intrigued to try...

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    3. YouHadYourLunch: yup, for the price, i'd say it's definitely worth it =)

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  15. Hahahah!! What if you accidentally stuff the food inside your nose?!?!?! ;P
    Sounds SOOOOOOOO FUN BTW.. !! I like the blackout picha! I paused for a moment, then I laugh, realizing it was meant to be black !!!!! Hahaha... Nice post , Sean! ^^

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    1. Eunice; heh, thanks! Ya, while I was drinking the wine, i had to make sure that the glass reached my lips properly =) and ya, blackness was the only thing we could see for 1.5 hours :D

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    1. Babe KL: cool concept, certainly =)

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  17. marked on pending list to try, not this month but most probably next month :D taste of sensation!

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    1. Fui: yeah, next month should be a good time, i think they will have introduced a new & complete menu here by then, including soups :D

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  18. First time I hear of such a concept, does food taste better in the dark ?

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    1. Wong: heh, not really, but i think we concentrate more on really tasting our food in the dark :D

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  19. hey you're not supposed to take the picture of the food menu! that's what i was told. was there on Monday and it was a great experience!

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    1. Eiling: oooh, i wasn't part of the blogger group that had been invited here this week, so i guess it was ok for me to snap the photos. sorry we didn't manage to bump into each other, but yeah, it was very cool. congrats to dining in the dark's team for their professionalism :D

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  20. We went to Dining in the Dark in KL too a few months ago. Definitely worth doing for the experience, but I wouldnt make it one of my regular haunts.

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