14 July, 2014
Let your senses guide you
Social dining to the next level

In the heart of the hustling Hong Kong, a new experience awaits the adventurous diner. Alchemy is a place where culinary conventions are thrown aside in favour of a truly sensory experience. Set across two levels, Alchemy delivers a very different experience in each. We recently experienced this unique dining experience of dining in the dark!

Upstairs, a relaxed yet indulgent bar setting where the focus is on crafted cocktails; masterful mixology alongside casual dining. Downstairs, a coming together of the most basic elements of a restaurant: food, space and people – but in a way that is entirely counterintuitive and with quite magical results. As the name might suggest, flavours and textures take on new dimensions as guests dine in complete darkness - raw ingredients combine with this unusual setting to create an experience verging on the miraculous.

A selection of tapas, as well as assorted hot & cold dishes and indulgent desserts, accompanied by an impressive wine list is available Upstairs, including the Marinated Salmon with peppered macaroon and seaweed butter and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Valrhona praline & salted butter cake. A new mystery cocktail each week can be sampled alongside signature cocktails including Mascarade, a mix of Chivas 12, strawberry & mint and Buddha's Tear made of Absolut Vanilla, Coconut & Kaffir Lime.

Introducing a sensory and social experience, Downstairs is where guests are invited to re-evaluate their perception of taste and smell. Total darkness removes the attention from the superficial and focuses the mind entirely on the array of tastes and textures with which we’re presented. In an 850sq. ft. room with no light, this intimate setting has only 25 seats. Each guest is personally greeted and guided to their table by our team of ‘guides’ – visually impaired waiting staff – and will experience a new style of dining – relying entirely on touch, smell, taste and hearing; each sense heightened by the completely dark environment. Our tip: be sure to wash your hands before eating and do not wear white as you seriously have to use your fingers to help you scoop up the food and sometimes, you may have no idea where the food is! The menu will change regularly with a focus on highly distinct textures and flavours, and dishes will retain the structure and organization on the plate as in a traditional restaurant.

The theme of Alchemy in the Dark extends also to people – with no mobile phones and no light pollution, guests are invited to engage in a social experience alchemy between them without distractions; a richly human experience that is both mysterious and intriguing. The interesting thing we observed is that no one was looking down at their phones as we dined as anything that emits light needs to be locked up.  Instead, we got to know the people sitting near us and were engaged in a social experience that is not distracted by technology.  This could definitely turn into an interesting experience for those who literally want to go on a blind date!

On arrival, an orientation is offered at which the team can answer guests’ questions before leading them into the dining room. At this point diners are invited to share details of any allergies and dislikes. Rather than selection from a menu, the chef will craft a three-course menu with the construction and arrangement of each dish explained in detail. The menu remains secret until the end of the meal, so naturally guests have fun guessing what is being served!

A team of three visually-impaired waiting staff will take care of guests as they experience dining at Alchemy in the Dark. With a role that goes beyond usual restaurant service they will act as ‘guides’, using their long experience of living without full sight to steer diners through their voyage of discovery.
Alchemy in the Dark is available from Monday to Saturday from 7pm to 11pm by reservation only. Alchemy Lounge is available Monday to Saturday from 12 noon to 11pm.

Alchemy is located at: G/F & LG/F, 16 Arbuthnot Road, Central.  Tel: + 852-6821-2801.  For more information, visit:

By: Karry Lai


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