Noir. Dining in the Dark - Restaurant Review
We were introduced to Noir after noticing that the restaurant ranked first in the list of TripAdvisor restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. Other than dining in the dark, what else does this restaurant offer? We were curious and wanted to find out ourselves, especially after interviewing the owners Germ Doornbos and Anh Tu Vu.
Noir. Dining in the Dark, an upscale and unique dining experience in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Featuring set menus that start in the 500,000 VND range, Noir pairs up fun with a well-produced and curated culinary experience. The building is set in a French heritage building, spanning two separate villas. One is the lobby and bar, where you’ll enter through. Here, you’ll be greeted with a welcome drink and an introductory game that is meant to prepare you for dining in the dark. The owners go to great lengths to provide exceptional service and a fun experience. And it shows. The staff will also walk you through the building to the dining room, which is 100% pitch black. They’ll lead you to your seat, so no worries about bumping into a neighboring table. Once you sit down, the staff will walk you through the dining experience from start to finish.
Why We Like It
Noir is a great spot to visit if you’re looking for something different and fun. Similar experiences outside of Vietnam will typically run in the hundreds of dollars, but you’ll find yourself with a reasonable bill here. The owners are down-to-earth and genuine in their hospitality and service. It comes with a few decades of experience between the two of them.
The social mission, to provide opportunities to the visually impaired or hard-of-hearing, is a compelling enough reason for me as a local to support the restaurant on a regular basis.
It’s one of the few places in the city featuring only set menus. It keeps the dining experience focused and curated. They also leave a bit of mystery to diners by not revealing what’s exactly in each meal, until after the dinner is done.
Tips for a Great Experience
Noir features western, Vietnamese, and vegetarian menus. Chances are, you’ll never have someone in the dinner group unhappy with the choice. We also recommend going with the wine pair rather than a single bottle. The culinary team here does a great job pairing up wines with the food, keeping in mind the dining in the dark experience. It’s a much more enjoyable experience dining in the dark if you choose the same menu as your dining partners. Talking about your food while dining in the dark is a fun way to keep the conversation going.
It’s also worth noting that the restaurant has a no phones, watches, or other accessory policy in the dark dining room. This is meant to allow diners to focus on the meal. Given this policy, I enjoy going to Noir with friends or on dates with people you don’t know too well. It’s a fun way to get to know the other person without any visual or physical distractions. It seems intimidating at first, but in reality is a much more relaxed way to enjoy someone’s company.
Need to Know
Location: 180D, Hem 178 Hai Ba Trung, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Hours: 11:30 – 14:30 and 17:30 – 23:00, daily
Best sellers: The Vietnamese set menu
X-factor: When paired up with a well-curated menu and experience, the social good component of the restaurant is enough to keep us coming back