Soup on my nose, a nearly spilled glass of merlot and chocolate down my white blouse. As blind dates go, this was a messy one.

But (for once) my clumsiness wasn't plonk induced. Nor was I dining with a never-before-met companion. This blind date was of the literal variety: we could not see a thing.

"Put your left hand on my shoulder, and then we'll take small steps forward," Michael, the visually impaired server, said in an East London accent. We three shuffled along, brushing past heavy curtains before being deposited at the dining table, where we would eat and drink three utterly secret and unseen courses.

Welcome to Alchemy in the Dark, Hong Kong's first full-time restaurant in total darkness. Upon arrival, diners brief the chef on their allergies, lock away their mobile phones and enter the windowless restaurant, which can seat 25. When the meal is over, the contents of the delicious menu are revealed - often to the diners' surprise.

"This is definitely duck," my friend said, while eating chicken. "This soup," I declared, "is carrot and coriander." Even the too-close sniff that dunked my nostrils did not reveal the real tomato and cumin flavours.

Dining in the dark changes everything: smell is heightened, manners go out the window - using your hands to feel around the plate becomes the norm - and there is a strange thrill in being able to pull weird facial expressions.

Best of all? You don't have to spend hours beforehand wondering what to wear.


Alchemy in the Dark is at 16 Arbuthnot Road, Central, tel: 6821 2801 and is open Monday to Saturday, from 7pm to 11pm. Reservations are required. A three-course meal with wine pairing costs HK$700 per person. Five per cent of all profits go to the Hong Kong Society for the Blind.