NOX - Dine in the Dark: 3rd Anniversary Bash

Photo Credits: NOX
In our current Instagram-obsessed society where drool-worthy visuals of succulent food rules over taste, textures and smell, one singular restaurant in Singapore is leading the resistance against the food porn phenomenon. Nox may seem like a novelty to many, but its concept of dining in total darkness has raised many eyebrows in food circles. Declamatory in their mission to let food speak for itself, diners are urged to let their other senses to take over in a pitch-black room, guided by blind waiters and transported to another world.

As most fine dining goes, one is immediately ushered to a seat by the ground level at the cocktail bar for a welcome drink. Here, amidst the cool contours of low lights, Thomas Sobota, the head bartender works his Slovakian magic even before the food theatrics begin. Expectedly, the new cocktail menu is a treat. Testament to his roots, the "What's the Thyme" ($20) brings back halcyon days. With its ingredients of Tequila, Sherry and Maracatu Cachaca, thyme syrup and lime juice is admittedly worth half the price of admission alone. If you're looking for a stiff nightcap with an abundance of complex taste palette, this is the drink. 

Smash it and reach out for the Cloudy Kentucky ($20) - a lively assembly of bourbon, ginger liquer, orgeat and cloudy apple juice to open up your palette for the mind-boggling disassociating dining experience that awaits in the pitch darkness above.

If you're petrified by the thought of emersing yourself into total blackness, or at least, as much as I am; rest assured that it's a strangely liberating experience -  the initial 'loss' of ability to decipher your food gradually giving way to a higher state of self awareness and capacity to suss out your nosh thru a variation of other sensory experiences. From the bursts of freshness from sweet nodules of grapes to the savoury crispiness of candied bacon; you'll navigate the 4 dishes featured in every course with ease; relating flavors and smells to past experiences and familiar favorites. 

The straightforward 3-course prix-fixe mystery dinner menu priced at $88++ per person is designed and executed by Executive Chef Desmond Lee formerly of Ember. Each course segregated and chopped down to finer bits to facilitate consumption without the impending fear of arriving out from the dark room with a mess on the front of your shirt. For appetizers, I gravitated towards the familiar Caesar salad with boiled farm egg, bits of candied bacon and a fine dusting of aged Parmesan whilst the Japanese Karaage Chicken with cucumber salad drizzled with goma dressing also strucks a chord in my heart as being the classic comfort food, capable of appeasing the nerves.

Food is cleared away with neat ordinance by the visually impaired staff who might unknowingly give you a knock or two on the heads whilst swinging by (please don't hold grudges) and perhaps a cocktail glass be shoved into your hands, should you have chosen to do the cocktail pairing with your meal ($50++). Guard those faithfully as these tend to be unloaded when the next course arrives at the table.

Mains paled in the comparison to the appetizers, the novelty slipping by as your struggling eyes gets used to the cimmerian shade - senses now heightened and befuddled by the poor cook on most of the proteins featured. For starters, the duck confit served with yellow frisee salad, neat segments of orange and braised dikon; resembled pork. Houston, we have a problem. The same problem plagued the oven roasted black cod which retained an odd dry-ish flaky texture to its outcome. Save for the last dish of Crispy Pork Belly, everything else was a slight let-down. The former, cooked low and slow before being served a good dosage of heat to render the outer skin crispy is served over coco bean and chorizo cassoulet, the natural spicy oils that percolate the chorizo slices, a wonder flavor agent to the protein.
Photo Credits:NOX

The meal concluded in plentiful of sweet folds with the Caramelized banana crumble, morsels of starchy goodness tossed about in rich salted toffee sauce for a particularly uplifting treat. Also good is the Chocolate fondant that resembled more a brownie sided with the tiniest scoop of salted caramel ice cream for a bit of temperature play.

So, there were no bad dishes at NOX (per se, unless you're counting the seafood oatmeal risotto which had a prison-food status quo). Most protein were so well cooked until they were dark and chewy. There's precedent for this style, especially when dining in the dark, pink salmon would have perceived as raw by some, but I wished they'd been better managed. And as you are led into stark reality once more, you are quizzed on your incredulous experience; the dawning of certain truths followed by a flabbergasting reveal of photos of dishes and ingredients used bringing disconcerting smiles and sometimes confused looks to your faces. It's all worth it though, as it acknowledges your partner's scanty ability to decipher most basic proteins. It's over. You win.

NOX 3rd Anniversary

In lieu of their 3rd birthday, NOX will be throwing a huge cocktail party from 8pm - 2am on the 14th August and inviting 18 of Singapore's most talented bartenders to gather and shake up a storm for revelers to enjoy. Bartenders will be working in shifts of 3 for 1 hours each. Delectable grub will also be made available, prepared by Head Chef Desmond Lee who is slightly more than elated to have his creations appreciated in broad day night light. This includes the following dishes (as depicted below), all priced at an amicable $20 nett each.
Photo Credits: NOX
Sirloin Steak Beef Burger, Wasabi Mayo, Picked Cucumber, Tortilla Chips
Photo Credits: NOX
Farm Egg, Maitake Mushrooms, Parma Ham, Truffle Dressing
Photo Credits: NOX
Seafood Paella, Garden Peas, Crispy Parma Ham

as well as my favorite sounding of the lot, the sinful Chorizo, Pork Belly, Crispy Pork Skin, Piquillo pepper and Onion pairing.

And as if we aren't blessed enough with visible food, the line-up of bartenders for the special occasion is outstanding!

8pm to 9pm Lukas Kaufmann
(The Library)
Thomas Sobota
Zdenek Kastanek
(Proof & Co)
9pm to 10pm Roger Yeap
Anthony Zhong
(Shin Gi Tai)
Ai Igarashi
10pm to 11pm Christian Hartmann
Aaron Goodall (The Cufflink Club) Davide Boncimino
(Lime House)
11pm to 12am Jaslynn Jsl
Charmaine Anne Thio
(28 Hong Kong Street)
Symphony Lee
(Neon Pigeon)
12am to 1am Jay Gray
(William Grant & Sons)
Kenny Hong
Cherrie Soh
1am to 2am Edraine Lim
Sim Tze Wei
(Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall)
(Bitters & Love)

So remember to reserve the 14th August to party with the crew of NOX! At least we know for sure, Thomas and his cheeky smirk are waiting to greet you at the door!

More details over on the NOX facebook page (here)

NOX - Dine in the Dark
259 Beach Road
t: 6298 0708

Operating Hours:
Daily: 6pm - Late

No comments: