As Asia's first dinner-in-the-dark restaurant, Whale Inside at Jianwai SOHO offers Beijing's gastronomes a taste of blind dining.
Inside, feasting foodies can't see their surroundings, their meals or their dinner companions. The dining experience involves searching for spoons, groping for glasses and floundering to find the food.
In concept, subtracting the distractions of presentation and dcor enables diners to better savor their meals' taste. In reality, however, diners are too preoccupied with trying to land forkfuls in their mouths to relish their meal's scrumptiousness.
Currently, diners can choose between two meal sets: the Dark Classic Set and the For Lovers Set particularly appropriate for a blind date.
Each meal includes at least one mystery dish, and diners can win prizes by guessing the constituents of the Five-Ingredient Mystery Meal. Only 18 guests have so far succeeded, according to management.
The Dark Classic Set includes a soup, two "mystery" entrees, two main courses and fruit pudding for 138 yuan. Costing 214 yuan for two, the For Lovers Set proffers soup, a plate of seven mystery foods, two entrees, two main dishes and a fruit platter for deserts. This set comes with the Ring Meal, which requires both members of a sightless couple to put a deep-fried apple ring on a deep-fried apple stick. Once this monumental achievement has been accomplished, the two must hand-feed the rings to each other much to the amusement of spectating servers bespectacled with night-vision goggles.
Management says that only 30 percent of visiting couples successfully land a morsel in their lovers' mouths.
The restaurant officially opened on January 20, but reservations are already full until Valentine's Day.
Whale Inside may be a trendy eatery, but it might not be the best place to see or be seen.
Address: Whale Inside restaurant. Room 1037, third floor, Building 10, west area of Jianwai SOHO.