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First Look: Having Häagen-Dazs In The Dark at NOX


New Flavour launched at NOX

What’s a better way to introduce an familiar taste to your customers? Blend it into a milkshake and make people guess what they’re drinking, is how. This was the prelude to the launch of the Classic Milk flavor by Häagen-Dazs held at NOX: Dine in the Dark.

We were served a shot and told it contained three distinct ingredients and flavours.  

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Try as we might, Beatrice and I were hard-pressed to come up with the third flavour. The shot was a smooth blend of sweet and saltish flavours. We were eager to figure out all the flavours so we asked the manager to see if he would drop us any hints. With a sly grin on his face he said we got two flavours down - salted caramel and peanut - but we’ve yet to figure out the ultimate star of the day’s event. 

Wanna know what it was? 

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Yup, as simple as milk. I should have known better. There was a fragrant and mildly sweet aroma that lingered at the back of my throat when I tasted the milkshake and there was a little voice that went ‘mm so milky’. But I didn’t know Häagen-Dazs wanted to go that basic. 

The reason for the launch of the Classic Milk flavour is a clever one. While everyone else is scrambling to come up with new and creative flavours, they’ve decided to do simple, and to do simple really well. Milk is basic, familiar and comfortable and if you can make milk ice-cream tasty, the ways in which the ice-cream can be enjoyed will be boundless. 

 

Our experience at NOX - Dining in the dark

 

It was all about rediscovering something you’ve neglected all this time. For us it wasn’t just about tasting the goodness of milk but having to dine without vision. Most people who’ve dined in the dark would tell you that when you do, all your other senses are heightened because you’re forced to rely on everything else but your sight. But I felt a little something more. 

NOX: Dine in the Dark, like SAVH (Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped) employs waiters with impaired vision. If you’ve always wondered how it’s like at NOX, I’m here to tell you it’s exactly how you’ve imagined to be, except maybe more intense. The staff prepares you by giving some instructions.

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  1. Leave all your belongs in the lockers provided. If your watch is capable of lighting up, that goes into the locker as well.

  2. You line up and put your hands on the shoulders of the person in front of you and form a human train, a blind waiter will lead you upstairs.

  3. When you’re eating, you’re given about 20 minutes for each course and the waiter will clear the dishes for the entire table at the same time. 

I was nervous and excited. When my human train got to our table I heaved big sighs of relief. I cannot begin to describe the anxiety you get under complete darkness and the paranoia of tripping over chairs and steps. When the waiters slipped in and out with our food with great ease my table was full of praises for them. It then suddenly occurred to me that while this was novelty for my companions and I, this unnerving state of mind and a very disabling physical impairment were everyday realities for the waiters at NOX. 

En route to our table, when we were fumbling around in the dark I spotted a tiny speck of red light on the ceiling, perhaps from the smoke detector sensor. That was my anchor for a while. “I can still see!” I bellowed to my companions until I realised that was probably one of the stupidest things I could have said.

After a painfully long time of deciding whether I should keep my eyes opened or close them, I decided to just relax and gave into the blackness. I wasn’t searching for the speck of light anymore. I was enjoying conversation, realising that we were a bunch of shy people before but in the dark we were suddenly interested in getting to know one another.

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At NOX, you didn’t need to fulfil social mores in the dark. You didn’t have to make eye contact, you don’t have to wait for one another to start eating to be polite. Dining pitch-dark not only heightens and forces you to rely on other senses, it centres the experience on you. 

Trying to guess what exactly it was that we ate was fun. The menu was revealed at the end but I’m going to let you find out for yourself when you go to NOX. Lucky for you though, you don’t have to go through a gruelling half an hour trying to figure out what that ‘milky’ taste was made out of. 

 

A Timeless Favorite

 

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Häagen-Dazs is retailing the Classic Milk for S$14.50 a pint, for the next six months. They’ve also come up with some in-store creations featuring the Classic Milk and some other flavors that you can check out. Personally, the Classical Medley (S$24 ++) - with Classic Milk, Raspberry Sorbet and Mango Raspberry ice cream - didn’t do it for me. They were served in tiny shot glasses and it’s difficult to enjoy it without messing up the entire plate. I would definitely go for the pint though. 

Fancy checking out other atypical restaurants in Singapore? Go here to see a bunch of Singaporean cafes with a cause, or here to see a list of quirky-themed cafes!


This post was brought to you by Häagen-Dazs.

 

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