Before I went to Phnom Penh, I had wanted to do something interesting and wanted to try something fun. I chance upon Dine in the Dark on TripAdvisor while doing my research for Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I was all along fascinated by the idea, I had wanted to try the Dine in the Dark either in Singapore or when I was in Kuala Lumpur, but never had a chance to do it.
I took a tuk-tuk from my hotel in Phnom Penh to Dine in the Dark. When I reached the restaurant, the whole place is dark with some intrigued purple lights, my initial thought was that it isn’t that dark like what I thought it would be.
I was given the menu to choose what kind of cuisine (3-course dinner) I would like to have the options were
- Khmer (Cambodian Food)
Each 3-course dinner would cost you about US$18, but it does not come with any drinks. Beer and Cocktails would cost you about US$2.00 – US$3.50 each. They also provide non-alcoholic drinks and wine.
The server would also ask you if you had any food that you do not take or if you had any allergies.
After I placed my order, I was asked to place my mobile phone into a box for them to safeguard. The server would call a host to bring you up to the “real” dining area. I was asked to place my hands over the host shoulders and to follow him.
The Dine in the Dark is a social enterprise that hires Cambodians with visual disabilities. Cambodia has an estimation of 12 million in population, with 1.2% of the population being visual disabilities, which is about 144,000 people that are blind.
The host, which is visual disabled, brought me up a staircase. while walking through the staircase, I was still able to see with all the purple lights around. When we reach the 2nd floor, we needed to pass by at least 2 door curtains, to reach the dining area.
When I reached the dining area, I could not even see my fingers. It was totally pitch dark. I was brought to my dining table, and the host guides me in the dark where my cutlery and utensils were.
The only person that you can rely on is your host. My host has a super cute name, BABY! So throughout the dining experience, whenever I needed assistance I would call out to BABY, and BABY was always there for me.
When the dishes are served, Baby would guide me to show me where the plates were and where my utensils were. Without using the sense of sight, I realised that I had to rely heavily on my other senses. I would start by smelling the food, followed by trying to use my utensils to pick up the food to taste it. Sometimes, my nose would accidentally touch the food, or I couldn’t find the food in the plate and I wouldn’t be able to know whether I had finished the dish.
This makes me appreciate the things that I have always taken for granted. Life would have been so difficult and different for someone who is visually disabled. Instead of complaining, we should be thankful for the things that we have!
After my 3-course meal has finished, Baby would guide me down to the first floor, and I would try to make a guess of all the food that I just had. The server also gave me a tablet to show me the pictures of food that I just had.
If you happened to be in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, do drop by to have this once in a unique dining experience. Although the cost is a bit on a high side for Cambodia standard, but do remember that you are supporting a social enterprise, giving jobs opportunities to the visual disabled.
Dine In the Dark, Phnom Penh is located at 126, Street 19, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 855 and is opened daily from Monday – Sunday 18:00 – 22:30