The Vault, a bar and restaurant that opened up in Hongdae and Sangsu area, has a neat concept where people can dine in complete darkness. “Dine in the Dark” is a concept I’d never heard of, and it intrigued me to the point that I accepted a free meal with The Vault. When I went there last week, I was surprised to see how much I like the place. The place gave off a nice ambience, and I was impressed by the owner’s, Huw-Morgan Evans, hospitality and his willingness to chat with me and answer whatever questions I had.
The Vault was sectioned off into several areas. There’s the main dining and bar area with the dart game on one side. They have a party room they use to allow groups to dine in the dark or with light. There is also a smaller room for those wanting a more intimate setting to eat in the dark or with light. There is also the “game room” where people can opt to play “Escape the Room”. I was seated in the large party room. I came before dinner time, so I was alone in the room for a while.
And let me tell you — that room was completely dark. Utterly pitch black. I was under the impression that I could still “see” once my eyes adapted to the darkness, but nope! That was not the case at all! I’m glad I was allowed to sit closest to the entrance because I did not trust myself to navigate further into the room in that sort of blackness.
Prior to my dining experience, I was asked if I had any food allergies or a major dislike to any sort of food. I brought up that I’m lactose-intolerant, I don’t do seafood well, and I absolutely cannot stand raw tomatoes. That’s one good thing I like about The Vault — they take into consideration of their customer’s food preferences. In fact, I even asked if they’d cater their Chef’s Surprise Menu options for vegetarians and vegans, and they do. Anyway, once we got my preferences straight, I sat in the room and waited to “see” what I’d be served.
I was first given two shots of “Bitter” and “Sweet”, two non-alcoholic drinks they serve to help our tastebud adapt to the darkness. Bitter was very sour, but I still enjoyed the taste of it. Sweet, on the other hand, was amazing. I really like how it was so fruity and fizzy. Next I was given a mocktail (non-alcoholic cocktail) called “Fruity Mother” (5,000 won), a mix of pineapple juice, orange juice, apple juice, and coconut. If you’re like me with a love for anything fruity and sweet, then I recommend this mocktail!
Aside from the drinks, they served me the green salad (8,000 won) and a tenderloin steak (28,000 won). The green salad tasted good with the balsamic vinegar dressing. Normally this salad is served with ricotta cheese, but I didn’t have that. I recall munching on lettuce (romaine, maybe?) and some baby spinach. As for the steak, I recall it being wonderfully flavoured and juicy. The way they grilled it was great. And I’m normally not even a steak person, but I devoured that steak. The steak came with some garlic and bell pepper (capsicum or paprika) on the side.
Eating in the complete darkness made me really focus on my actions and it had me on the edge because I was so worried I’d knock down my drink or something. But at the same time, I felt my sense of taste and smell heighten in the darkness, and I really used my sense of touch to navigate and eat my meal. Yes, that included feeling for my utensils and then completely abandoning them halfway through my meal because it was difficult trying to stab something without my sense of sight!
All in all, this was a very unique experience, and I can see this being a neat concept to do with a group of friends. In fact, towards the end of my meal, a group of people came in, and I listened to their conversations, and I heard some hilarious comments regarding how it was so dark. I wished I’d stayed longer to hear their own meal experience. In fact, I hope to do this again in the future with a friend. I would love to return and try some of their spiked coffees and cocktails! Except, I think on my next visit, I’ll eat in the light, only because I do like seeing what’s on my plate!
02-338-8639 (Korean/English) or 010-6439-3271 (English)
B2 of N.S. Tower, 19-16, Wausan-Ro 21-Gil, Mapo-Gu, Seoul, Korea
서울특별시 마포구 와우산로21길 19-16, B2 N.S. Tower
From Sangsu Station, go out exit 1 and go around to your right and walk down the street heading towards Hongik University. After about 300 metres, you will come across a bigger T-intersection. Go across to the other side and keep going straight. When you come upon a side street on your left, take that street and walk past one side street on your right. When you come to the second side street on your right, take that and the N.S. Tower building will be on your left after about 60 metres. The Vault is on the B2 level.
7,000 ~ 40,000+ won budget per person