We all savour our food as much with eyes as we do with our mouths.
So it puts you in a blind spot – quite literally – when you are served an array of delicious dishes completely in the dark.
My dinner-in-the-dark experience began quite normally at the Ginger restaurant in Dubai’s Ramada Jumeirah.
Having taken in the vibrant interiors and the appetising open kitchen, I was offered a refreshing welcome drink – a sweet blend of lime, orange juice and vodka.
As it’s a group experience, waiting for everyone to arrive can take a while, so you would be wise to sip your drink slowly.
Once everyone was seated and ready, our hotel manager welcomed us with a briefing about how the meal would play out. Interestingly, he noted that the entire dinner would not be held in total darkness. After we had made our guesses with each course, we’d be shown the model dishes so we could compare it with what we had imagined.
Once ready, we slid on the blindfolds. I felt a brief moment of unease and kept my hands firmly on the edge of the table lest I toppled my water or wine glasses.
Ginger is a Pan Asian restaurant so the pre-set five-course tasting menu was a combination of Chinese, Thai and Japanese dishes.
The starter arrived. I gingerly guided my fork to the centre of the plate, hit a chunk and brought it to my mouth. I tasted a crunch and some juicy pieces of seafood with hints of sweet and spice.
After allowing the group to share our deductions the hotel manager asked us to remove the blindfolds and the daikon roll starter came to light. The wafer thin slices of rolled radish filled with salmon, avocado, crabmeat, wasabi mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce tasted great, especially with the blind-fold off.
Luckily, the first course was accident-free with no spillage or messing up.
The second course served up a challenge. I made false grabs and kept opening my mouth for empty air bites.
When the blindfolds were off, I discovered the reason. The vibrant Japanese dish, Uzura Kuwayaki, made of quail meat with braised green capsicum and spring onion was arranged in a delicate crispy rice basket. Each time I tried to scoop with the fork, the canapé slipped away. Those in the group who used their fingers fared better, it turned out.
Next up was a generous portion of soup. The Chinese spiced lamb shank broth was slow-cooked in aromatic flavours of shitake mushroom, cinnamom sticks, green cardamom and raisins. Only one in our group recognised the taste of lamb. The hotel manager explained that it was the slow cooking process that gave it the subtle flavours and smell.
Our main was a wholesome combination of stir-fried scallops prepared with Thai hot basil leaves and long beans, teamed perfectly with fragrant coconut rice.
Finally for dessert we were served the matcha and lemongrass crème brulee. It was served in a bowl packed with flavours. The taste of lemongrass and raspberry were obvious however the flavours of Sichuan pepper and toppings of green tea streusel eluded most of us.
Overall, it was a cheerfully engaging evening. The conversations flowed, as did the wine – remarkably without any spillage. As it was a semi-blind-dining experience, it was satisfying in many ways.
Blindfolded we experienced the unique anticipation that each course offered and with the blindfolds off, we were able to savour the presentation.