Because Shanghaiist is too poor to afford satellite TV, he’s often had to entertain himself with China’s favourite (and only) English-language channel, especially when he’s suffering from insomnia. Today’s news coverage includes a story of what is touted as “Asia’s first Dark Restaurant” which has just opened in Beijing (we briefly told you about this on Jan. 5). The video to the right is from a Chinese-language CCTV report.
The restaurant experience begins in a locker room where the guest removes all valuables and electronic gadgets and places them in a safe. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. No flashlights, no luminous watch dials, no iPods, no lighters (wonder if that means no smoking too?) and no mobile phones (not sure how that is possible in China). You are then escorted into the pitch-black restaurant by staff with night vision goggles who then read out your menu to you. When your food finally arrives, please eat with your fork and knife or chopsticks (no cheating with your hands!). Apparently by depriving yourself of sight, your tastebuds are supposed to work overtime and your food will taste like it’s never tasted before. Yum…
Pretty cool, don’t you think? The entrepreneur in Shanghaiist thinks this is a great business model too — no need for fancy decor, fancy furniture, fancy cutlery, and no need to worry about food presentation either. Hell, your customers won’t even know if there’s a fly in their soup or a cockroach in their fried rice. Everything is just going to taste scrumptious! Biggest capital investment items — night vision goggles and black paint! (Investors, start sending across your cheques please!)
As the story goes, the world’s first Dark Restaurant was opened by a blind pastor in Zurich who wanted to provide jobs for the blind and promote understanding of visual impairment. Since then, the idea has been replicated in cities around the world, from Berlin to Munich to London, Paris and Montreal.
Since we just missed out on our RMB 110 flights to Beijing, would any adventurous Beijingist out there care to make a trip to Whale Inside (what an appetising name, don’t you think!) and submit a restaurant review perhaps? Applicants should preferably NOT suffer from nyctophobia.
Image from Xinhua.