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“unmissable and unforgettable experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of DID - Dine in the Dark

DID - Dine in the Dark
Street 19 | Cross streets 154 & 172, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Formerly Dine in the Dark)
+855 77 589 458
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Ranked #16 of 787 Restaurants in Phnom Penh
Price range: $18 - $19
Cuisines: Cambodian, Vegetarian, International
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations, Late Night
Description: Dine in the Dark is a new fine dining restaurant providing a unique culinary experience to its guests. The restaurant opens its doors this month of October, and will offer guests the chance to discover Khmer, International and Vegetarian dishes in complete darkness, thereby heightening all other non-visual senses. Dine in the Dark also raises awareness whilst promoting equal opportunities and employment, as it hires a team of talented visually-impaired waiters called guides. Dine in the Dark is a perfect place for indulging in an enjoyable new world of sensations, the venue is located at Botanic Cafe, in one of Phnom Penh's historical townhouses, amongst the city's entertainment area, close to the riverside.
Belfast
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“unmissable and unforgettable experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2014

Brilliant night. Our guide Daijo was the best. He really looked after us. Food was incredible and by the end of it we knew where we were to cheers my friend :) Book a table in advance. It gets busy very very quickly. thanks to all a wicked night in PP

Visited May 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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120 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
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  • Any
English first
Oahu, Hawaii
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
“I didn't know I'd feel so emotional dining in the dark!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2014

When you get to the restaurant, you pick what type of food you would like to eat: international, local, or vegetarian. I chose the local food while my husband chose international. Our waitress was Honey and she was one of the best english speakers I came across in Cambodia! She led us upstairs into the pitch black dining room and then to our table. Once we entered the dining room, I was really overwhelmed with my eye sight being taken from me. I started to freak out a little and was pretty close to leaving. It was scary! I had to calm myself down and think about the difficulties that a blind person goes through daily. Once I felt better, this situation made me feel really sad. You really do gain a whole new appreciation for the blind. Eating was extremely difficult. Everytime I would try to scoop something up with my spoon, it would come up empty. I eventually gave up and i used my hand! It was funny because Honey would tell me that I still have a lot of food on my plate and to keep eating! I don't know how she knew without touching my plate! Eating is intersting because you mainly go off of textures and smells, not too much on taste.

I would suggest you to stick to the international or vegetarian dishes if you aren't too comfortable eating all types of Khmer cuisine. Some of the dishes that were served to me had some sauces that are too strong and smelly for my liking and the dessert isn't something I would have picked if I could have seen it for myself. Of course this was my fault though for being a little too gutsy!

We arrived at the restaurant 25 minutes late because our tuk-tuk driver got lost and we ended up walking up and down every street until we found this place. We asked numerous people where this restaurant was but no one seemed to know. I suggest taking a printed copy of a map or their phone number just incase you get lost and possibly lose your reservation!

  • Visited April 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jay S, Partner at DID - Dine in the Dark, responded to this review, May 4, 2014
Dear guest,

Thank you for your excellent review of DID – Dine in the Dark. We hope to provide excellence in all aspects of our dining experience and are delighted that you had a memorable time at our restaurant.

I will pass on your compliments to Guide Honey, and your tasting notes to the kitchen team. We hope that you will visit us again in the future to try another one of our surprise menus, which change on a regular basis.

With kind regards,

Jay S

Partner - Dine in the Dark
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cincinnati Ohio
Top Contributor
127 reviews 127 reviews
79 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 64 cities Reviews in 64 cities
99 helpful votes 99 helpful votes
“A Novel Edifying Experience in the Dark with great food, too”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2014

My dinner at Dine in the Dark was one of the most fantastic dining experiences I've ever had. It gave me an unprecedented opportunity to both experience things from a blind person's viewpoint (or non-viewpoint) and a chance to be innovative on how to accomplish something without sight. It was challenging and enriching.

There were about 12 of us who met at the restaurant after a fairly long surgery day at the hospital. We sat around the greeting table and reviewed the menu. It had a nice selection of drinks and cocktails but only 3 choices for dinner---Khmer (Cambodia), Western/International, and vegetarian. We were told that if we had any food allergies we could tell them and they would accommodate that. One of our two student volunteers was highly nervous. She said, "I'm allergic to anything that crawls." She kept asking the greeter what we were going to have to eat and he said he couldn't say, only that he would leave out anything to which we might be allergic.

We were instructed to turn off all light emitting objects and they gave each of us a locked box into which we had to place cell phones, watches, etc.

We ordered drinks and chatted for awhile as they readied our table upstairs. Soon, we met our waitstaff for the night---Annie and Jeff who were blind. Each of us stepped forward and touched their outstretched hands and introduced ourselves. Then we were divided into two groups and each of us placed our hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us. Annie led one group and Jeff the other.

We ascended the steps and turned right, going through a series of curtains which became progressively dark until we were in total, 100% pitch blackness. We could hear the voices of other diners and those in our group but we had no clue where each was. As we stopped, Annie would come up to each of us and tell us to feel the chair on our right and to sit down. Everything became a matter of moving slowly and THINKING and FEELING before each move. I sat down and heard familiar voices. I asked who was to my right and one of the students, Carol, said she was. I asked her to reach out and touch my hand to get an idea of where she was. Skylar, our Patient Imaging Technician, was on my left, and she reached over to touch my other hand. Across the table from me was Helen and Annika. We all asked who was sitting next to whom so we could identify voices at the table. Next to Skylar was Caroline.

Every little thing took on a new light. We started talking about whether our table was round or straight. We all said round until Caroline said she was against the wall, as did Annika. We figured out there were 5 of us at our table, with Caroline at the head.

Annie, our blind server, instructed us that we had a fork on our left and a knife and spoon on our right. In front of that were two glasses---a wine glass and a water glass. We felt where they were.

Because we had a large group, each table received two bottles of complimentary wine. How would we find it to pour? We wondered. In the meantime, I was sipping my margarita. Helen, somewhere across the table from me, asked me how it was. I told her good and then laughed and said, "I'd give you a taste but I have no clue how to get it to you." She agreed but then I thought that's silly. What would someone who is blind do. I told Helen to reach across the table and give me her hand. When I felt that I told her that I was placing the margarita to the right of her hand so when I took mine away the glass would be right there. She found it and we were able to transfer it back to me.

Annie poured us wine and water. How? I have no clue, but she did a stellar job. Then dinner service began. It was comical. We were told that it was a salad/appetizer. Initially, I picked up my fork and tried to find the food. Then I tried to get it on my fork and THEN I tried to negotiate it to my mouth. Well, let me tell you, being in the dark is no different than being in the light some would say. I could feel some of it falling on my lap. SOOOOO...........I decided that finger food was appropriate at this point; in fact, we all kinda did. The student next to me was a stitch. She kept saying she felt something squishy and she knew it was a creature. Amazing what the imagination can do. I told her that it wasn't and we had the same thing. She insisted it was and then asked me to touch it for her. LOL~ So funny. Oh, btw, she and I had both gotten the Khmer dinner. I really couldn't tell you all the ingredients in that appetizer but there was a sudden awareness of strictly taste and smell. The salad/appetizer was delicious.

Then we were served the main course. By this time, I think all but one adventurous soul had decided to use fingers. Of course, that had to be the fastidious surgery resident. Again, the student said that there was something weird on her plate. Still so funny. It was really good, although texture-wise there was a kind of rice/bread ball sort of thing that was dry. The thing that baffled me was what I perceived to be something warm and chunky and wet in a kind of bowl. It was delicious but I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. I later discovered it was fish amok (Cambodian dish I love) in part of an EGGPLANT. Novel way to serve it.
Naturally, everyone had fun with what they might be eating. When the student next to me asked me to touch what she had on her plate, I reached over and then screamed, "Ouch, it bit me." She freaked. Then we made the usual jokes about cats and dogs, etc. BTW, it turned out to be lamb.

After dinner, they served us three shot glasses of a soup. One was watermelon, one spinach, and another I don't remember. None of us guessed any of it. Then came dessert which was another mystery to the taste buds.

We progressively became more comfortable through the evening and then Annie and Jeff both played the guitar and we did some sing-along and they did some individual tunes. Annik sang a song she had arranged with Sam. She had an incredible voice and should be on the public stage. Wonderful evening!

When it came time to go, I think most of us were looking forward to it. I know that at one point I wanted to be able to look at my watch (or phone) and see what time it was. I wonder how a blind person checks that.

At the end of the evening, we all stood up, reached out to touch the shoulder of the person in front of us, and were led back out through the progressively lighter spaces between the curtains. I can't describe the joy I felt inside as it became lighter and lighter and lighter until we were back in the waiting area below. We each paid our tab which was only $18 for dinner (similar place in San Francisco is $100). Our greeter was on hand to show us on an iphone the dinner each of us had. All I can say is that the presentation in the pics would have enabled a restaurant to charge 3x what we were charged. The most amazing thing was to look at what we ate and then realize that we had no clue what we thought we had eaten. Definitely "food for thought" (sorry, couldn't resist).

Whew! Those couple hours of living in darkness were tough. I can't imagine a life without sight. It sure taught me to try to slow down, savour every sight, sound, feel, taste, and touch. More importantly, it taught me that it takes time and effort to make a connection with others, with ourselves, and the world around us.

It was for lack of a better term, an "eye opening" experience.

So, this is a lotta "food for thought", huh? [ can't resist these quips ]

  • Visited April 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jay S, Partner at DID - Dine in the Dark, responded to this review, May 4, 2014
Dear guest,

Thank you for your detailed review of your experience with us, we are delighted that you had such a fantastic time at our restaurant! Our guides are extremely talented in many ways, and it is always rewarding to hear about the superb job they are doing, from satisfied guests.

We also thank you, for mentioning the price of the experience which we believe is justifiable at $18.00, considering the level of hospitality we provide and the satisfaction levels of our guests after their unique dark dining experience.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly, at jay@DIDexperience.com for large group bookings in the future, and we will happily organise another great night for your group.

We sincerely look forward to welcoming you, your friends, and family back in the future.

Kind regards,

Jay S

Partner – Dine in the Dark
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“Far better charity restaurants available in PP - this is not worth the hype”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2014

I do agree that the idea is fantastic and provides employment for a disadvantaged segment of society. But at $18 dollars a head this fails to meet the mark, especially in comparison to some of the other fantastic charity restaurants available. I do question how much of the $18 dollars actually does go to the staff of this restaurant.

But the food is terrible, I meal I had was borderline inedible. I am not sure if the current head chef tastes the meals before they go out, but suggest they start sampling the menu. I had the vegetarian option. All meals were cold when served. The starter consisted of a quiche dish which was cold and had no flavour. The only pleasant item on the plate was the rocket and dressing.

The main consisted of a vegetarian sushi roll which I was unable to each and a fried noodle dish (the only edible item and hardly the best fried noodle I had in Cambodia). The desert was a fruit and deep fried roll dish, The roll just tasted like unclean oil. I was surprised that none of the 3 plates served at this price point was excellent, overall just a bare pass.

My cocktail was also poor, but the highlight of what I was served. The staff serving are excellent and do deserve praise. I did receive a feedback form to complete so lets hope that some improvement occurs soon.

  • Visited April 2014
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jay S, Partner at DID - Dine in the Dark, responded to this review, May 4, 2014
Dear guest,

Thank you for your review of DID – Dine in the Dark. We are sorry to hear that you did not enjoy our cuisine, and have taken note of your constructive comments regarding the food.

To clarify, our restaurant is not a “charity restaurant” and our staff are all interviewed, employed, and rewarded in the same way that any other business would employ their staff. Not only that, but our visually impaired guides are paid salaries which are competitive with national averages.

We hope to be able to invite you back to our restaurant in the future, to re-experience the beyond-excellent service and unique dining atmosphere, but also so we can try to renew your faith in our cuisine, when we introduce our new surprise menus (which are designed on a regular basis).

Thank you again, for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Kind regards,

Jay S

Partner - Dine in the Dark
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Amazingly Cool Place!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2014

i was interested wz this restaurant through pic from facebook and creative idea for the restaurant itself. Too bad i couldnt go to the dark bar on the upstair because that was for having drink and I was only dining at that time. The food are delicious and up to par. Reasonable of course! The sofa i chose was really comfy. Next time i go, i'll go to the dark for sure.

I was a bit unlucky since the time i was there, a guy was smoking in his seat at the back of the restaurant. The environment and the decoration at the back was so wonderful but he came first so I can't just ask him to change, can i? So better remove myself. I changed to front seat sofa instead. Hopefully won't see ppl smoking again.

  • Visited March 2014
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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