I’ve been lucky enough to do a fair bit of travelling in the past few years, and each time I experience great food or great service I make a promise to leave a review on TripAdvisor. After many forgotten promises, a trip to Brussels with my better half (we’ll call him Mr LittleWelsh for the sake of convenience) at the end of last year, and delicious meal after delicious meal, impressed me enough to actually create an account (though I lost momentum before actually getting around to reviewing). Five months after that, it was a trip to Noir in Ho Chi Minh city that actually compelled me to write my first review. I was a little tipsy at the time- overwhelmed by the whole experience, as well as a little trip to the hotel bar en route to the computer- so I do hope it came across as sincerely as it was intended!
“The food was quite possibly the most delicious combination of tastes, textures and smells that I’ve ever experienced”
I wrote that I had found it a little overwhelming, but that “the food was quite possibly the most delicious combination of tastes, textures and smells that I’ve ever experienced” and I stand by that, even after the following two weeks savouring every culinary delight Vietnam had to offer. The concept works on the premise that you don’t know what you are eating until you leave the dining room (though dietary requirements are catered for in advance). I considered myself to have a relatively refined palate, however without the visual clues to suggest what I was eating I actually struggled to identify a few of the 14 tasting bowls! My favourites were the starters, until the mains came out, then the desserts….Just, wow.
What is most incredible about this restaurant is the job opportunities it creates for blind and visually impaired Vietnamese men and women, who would otherwise join the other 94% in unemployment. Ironically, sitting in the dark had probably been one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. We take for granted how heavily we rely on sight, and to spend one evening being guided and served by those whose daily life is perpetually in some degree of this darkness is quite humbling.
If you find yourself in Ho Chi Minh city, I implore you to give it a try. Sit quietly and let the darkness envelope you as you strain every other sense to give some context to your evening (yes, I did stick my fingers in each bowl before I ate it!).
My evening at Noir was arranged as a group booking whilst attending our annual conference with my colleagues. Also worth noting for the delicious food and, in the latter, the wonderful entertainment provided were Ly Club and Maxim Nam An. Thanks to all for catering for such a large group, your TripAdvisor reviews are on their way, I promise!