Your culinary adventure can be immensely immersive, dining in outlets driven by philanthropic aims in Ho Chi Minh city. Some dining experiences can take on a whole new meaning. Dedicated to uplifting the lives of disadvantaged groups, these social enterprise outfits employ and provide culinary-hospitality training to street children, orphans and those with disabilities.
Noir – Dining In The Dark
If you want to take dining to a higher sensory level, try it in the realm of darkness. Deprived of the sense of sight or blind tasting, diners at Noir embark on a culinary journey heightened by other senses – taste, smell, touch and sound.
Founded in 2014, Noir aims not only for diners to fully appreciate a sense that so many of us take for granted, but create job opportunities and promote awareness about the visually impaired in Vietnam.
“Just like other people with disabilities, they often live on the margins of society. In Noir, we turn this around by putting them in charge,” says Germ, referring to the team of 11 visually impaired servers.
How the dining works:
This unique gastronomic journey begins at the lounge where welcome drinks are served and diners can select from one of three mystery menus (each is a three-course meal where the dishes are undisclosed). The menu from the East is Asian/Vietnamese while the menu from the West is international/ European, both of which change every four months. The vegetarian menu changes twice a year. As you can guess, wine pairing is also a mystery.
Diners then play with a game to heighten their sense of touch. After that, they are led to the darkened dining room by a blind Food Guide who will serve the food and drinks, and is available to answer questions. After the meal is completed, diners will be led back to the lounge where the mystery of their meal will be uncovered as they are informed about the kind of dishes they had been served.
Contemporary Asian and Western
The current menu is, literally, kept in the dark, so a glimpse of its past menu will give an idea of the dishes served. Aimed at delighting the senses, the items range from the familiar to the exotic – prawn tom yum soup, vegetable lasagne, pan-fried seabass, slow-roasted marinated duck breast and basil tomato ice-cream.
Text by Angela Goh