Hello all my freaks,
Around the end of December 2016, me and my boyfriend went on a trip to Ho Chi Minh city to celebrate our 2 years anniversary. Although we both from Hanoi but 2 years ago we visited HCMC as friends and fell in love with each other after the trip so we thought it would make sense to go back there for this occasion.
As I found a lot of romantic and great restaurants for our anniversary date, I just couldn’t pick one in particular because all of them are some what “ordinary” to me. Luckily, I was looking around on TripAdvisor and found this really special restaurant called NOIR and it was all I wanted. After reading many good reviews about Noir, I decided to book it right away. The booking process on its website was easy and very professional,which leads to a confirmation letter via email.
Since Noir is pretty close to our hotel, we both agreed on walking there to be even more hungry so we can really enjoy the food. Personally I was so excited because this is a way for me to test my palette. I always thought that I’d know which is which but let’s just wait and see if I live up to my expectation.
Located at the end of an alley on Hai Ba Trung street, Noir restaurant stands out so much because all the Christmas lights decoration. There was a staff greeting us right at the front door and politely instruct us what to do next. Because this night is more about a new experience, not just a dinner date, I want to divide this blog into 3 parts so it will be more clear about how that night went.
Part 1: Getting to Know Game
After greeting us, the host led us to a table and served us our welcome drinks, which were either alcoholic or non-alcoholic (up to your choice). She also brought out a puzzle game and 2 blindfolds for us. I was too excited by this point and immediately put on the blindfold. The puzzle contained 6 blocks of wood that were made in different shapes like triangle, rectangle, circles and their bases…The rule is to be blindfolded and put the blocks back to the correct bases. Basically, I had to touch and really felt both the base and the block to figure out which shape is it and where to put it. I realized that life is not going to be easy if you lose your eye sight.
Playing the puzzle is a perfect sneak peak of what we were about to experiment. Oh, there are 2 menus at Noir that you can pick: Western and Eastern. They suggest us to pick the same menu that both costs around $25 so we can go through the same experience, therefore we picked the Western menu.
Part 2: Dining in The Dark
Our table was ready right after we finished the little game. We were escorted to the backyard that led to another part of the restaurant. Before going in, the host introduced us to our server named Thành. What touched me deep in my heart the most is all of the servers working in the restaurants are visually impaired. They are not only your server but your instructor. We talked for about 5 mins learning each other names and listening carefully to his instruction. He warned us this is not a regular kind of darkness, but a pitch black space that might make us feel uncomfortable and a little bit nauseous at first.
In order to go to our table, we had to line up and put our arms on the shoulders of the person in front us. As we entered the room, I realized that Thành wasn’t kidding about how pitch black the room was. I couldn’t see a thing! I’ve never experienced or being in a situation like this before. I suddenly felt like I lost all of my self-control and the fact that I had to depend on someone else to do such a simple task like walking, sitting, eating is annoying and depressing. For a moment all sort of mixed emotions and feeling was coming at me. Whenever I see a visually impaired person before, I was like “Oh! That must suck not being able to see.” But now after being in their shoes, I realized that they have to deal with a lot more than just sadness such as self-confidence, self-destruction, depression…
Sorry for being real deep for a moment, now back to Noir.
We sat down at our table, Thành helped us to figure where are the silverwares and the drinks at. Thành left to bring us our first course. We were sitting at our table trying to locate each other and things around us. When you lose one sense, the others seem to work better. I could hear my boyfriend breathing and smell the food coming.
Here comes the 1st course/starter, it contained 4 different soups (hot or cold). Thành suggested us to eat from our left to right. Now this is a fun part: guessing game. We went through each one and tried to guess what are the ingredients but it was damn hard! The texture of vegetables unexpectedly become very similar to the texture of meats.
The main course came with 4 different kind of meat and fish. You would think you know how beef taste like right? But without seeing, I was clueless for once and my boyfriend seemed to enjoy me being like that for once. The easiest ingredient that we both recognized was fish. All 4 dishes was tiny but had decent flavors.
Last but not least was the dessert, it was a set of 3 including sorbet and cakes.
To be honest, the food wasn’t have that wow factor. Our whole meal went on a total of 30-45 minutes, which in my opinion was quite a rush. I think the main reason why the food to me wasn’t good is because we didn’t get to see it, and that minus 50% of the dishes. However, that night was the most romantic and unforgettable night we ever spent together.
Part 3: The Reveal
Thành kindly led us out of the dark room. It took 1-2 mins for my eyes to adjust to light again and it was weird being able to see. After getting our stuffs, we came out to the lounge for the reveal of the food. The host was asking us what did we think we ate but most of our answers came out wrong.
If you come to Noir just for the food, I think you might make a wrong choice but if you want to challenge yourself and do something new and exciting, then Noir is all you looking for. It’s also a great place where you can grow your empathy with impaired people and remind yourself to be grateful everyday.
For my readers that currently live in HCMC, pick up your phone and book a reservation right now! You will not be disappointed.
Until next time, stay freaky.