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Eating in darkness: Saigon restaurant offers dining experience with blind, deaf servers

Sunday, June 14, 2020, 10:25 GMT+7
Eating in darkness: Saigon restaurant offers dining experience with blind, deaf servers
Customers put their hands on a staff member’s shoulders while they are guided to a dark room at the Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant on Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City has been offering its diners an off-the-beaten-path experience, with blind or deaf people serving the meals.

The name speaks for itself. ‘Noir. Dining in the Dark,’ located on Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1, has diners enjoy their meals in a pitch-black surrounding.

“Every facet of daily life depends on sight. How would your other senses react to being in complete darkness?” the restaurant explained the concept on its website.

“You will embark on a sensory journey into a different world and savor exquisite tastes and textures in complete darkness.

“This multi-sensory dining experience will stimulate your senses and open your mind.”

Visiting the place, diners will be guided by visually impaired staff who “have been specially trained to assist and reassure sighted guests who are in complete darkness."

The restaurant is part of a series of recreational venues established in the hope of creating jobs for people with vision or hearing impairment.

The chain, including a restaurant, a coffee shop, and a spa, currently employs nearly 60 people with either visual or hearing impairment.

Vu Anh Tu, owner of Noir. Dining in the Dark, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that people with impairment often face difficulties in finding jobs, so what he does simply offers them more chances at doing honest work.

Vu Anh Tu (right), owner of the restaurant talks to his hearing impaired staff. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Vu Anh Tu (right), owner of the Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, communicates with his hearing-impaired staff in sign language. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

At Tu’ restaurant, staff use sign language, body language, and facial expressions to communicate with diners.

Employees are also taught foreign languages as the restaurant has become increasingly popular with foreign tourists and expats living in the city.

Every new recruit goes through two-month training before starting their job.

Diners coming to the venue are required to put their phones and anything that emits light into a locker before being led by staff into a world of darkness.

“At first I was worried whether I could do the job. Now I love my job as it helps me meet many people and build up my self-confidence as other staff members and customers are very friendly,” Tuan Linh, a 30-year-old employee who has hearing loss, told Tuoi Tre.

Tuan Linh, 30, is one of the hearing impaired staff at the restaurant. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Tuan Linh, 30, is one of the hearing-impaired staff members at the Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Trang (left), staff at Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant on Hai Ba Trung Street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 introduces diners to the complete dark room at the venue. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Trang (left), an employee at the Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant on Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, introduces diners to a completely dark room at the venue. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A diner puts his phone into a locker before entering the dark dining room at Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant on Hai Ba Trung Street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

A diner puts his phone into a locker before entering the pitch-black dining room at the Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant on Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A display of sign language to help customers communicate with staff at Noir. Dining in the Dark. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Instructions on basic sign language to help customers communicate with staff at the Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A staff at Noir greets customers to his place. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

A staff member greets customers at the Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Staff at the restaurant uses sign language to exchange to each other. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Staff at the Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam use sign language to communicate with each other. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Thuy Duong, 28, and Thi Binh, 23, enjoy their moments at work. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Thuy Duong, 28, and Thi Binh, 23, enjoy their moments at work at the Noir. Dining in the Dark restaurant in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Impaired staff at Noir series of restaurant, coffee shop and spa said they are respected by their customers. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Vision or hearing impaired staff at the Noir. restaurant, coffee shop, and spa chain in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam say they are respected by their customers. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

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