With so many new dining options popping up all over Hong Kong, it can be difficult (and a tad over-whelming) choosing a spot that really stands out from the crowd. Not to mention, Honkers is a tough town of hungry foodies always on the lookout for the latest craze. So, from a pool of “it” restaurants, fashionable watering holes, cool cafés and sought-after saloons comes a wholly unique dining experience that is sure to alter your perceptions of food and drink. Tucked up on Arbuthnot road is Alchemy, a new French Creations group restaurant and lounge focused on letting your senses guide you. Thoroughly intrigued and filled with curiosity, our Sassy Hong Kong editor Lauren and I made our way up past the old Central police station to check out Alchemy for ourselves.
Separated into two sections, Alchemy is made up of a (fully lit) upstairs lounge and a pitch-black restaurant downstairs, called Alchemy in The Dark. Stepping through the unassuming entranceway, which evokes a 19th century apothecary shop complete with jars and drawers (that you can imagine being filled with all sorts of concoctions and potions), is Alchemy Lounge. At first glance, I already knew this spot was going to be a regular hangout. Reminiscent of a 19th Century study, you can’t help but feel a little like you’d walked into Downton Abbey with its dark wooden bar, luxurious velvet chairs, book shelves and intricate brass-work.
Open for casual dining and drinks for lunch and dinner (and a delectable weekend brunch we hear!), Alchemy Lounge serves a delicious selection of small sharing plates such as Seared Duck Foie Gras on home-made brioche, Marinated Salmon on Peppered Macaroons and Crispy Saffron Risotto balls with smoked duck, which we heartily gobbled up bite after delicious bite!
But, not to be outdone by the food, Alchemy’s cocktails are sinfully delightful, the sour-sweet Buddha’s Tear made with vanilla vodka, coconut, kaffir lime and chillies and fruity Mascarade with Chivas 12, fresh strawberries and mint were stand out signature favourites. Psst… we hear that bar manager Kevin Le Nabasque (previously of Le Boudoir fame) will also be creating a mystery cocktail each week!
Before we descended into the downstairs darkness, we were briefed by staff about what to expect from the dining in the dark experience; each table would be guided by a visually impaired member of staff, personal belongings must be locked away in individual lockers (that means no sneak peeking or instagramming, girls!) and we were advised to “take it slow”. So, with a touch of trepidation and plenty of excitement, we dove into the darkness!
Let’s cover the usual query first, yes it really is that dark. They weren’t kidding when they said it was “dining in the dark” because this 850 sq ft space is completely blacked out with multiple layers of heavy curtains and zero forms of lighting. In fact, the only light I was able to make out were the infrared dots on the security cameras dotted along the ceiling. These cameras help the kitchen and upstairs staff monitor how service is going so they can time the next course, make sure all plates have been served and cleared and that no one’s tripped over!
As each course is served, our guide directed our hands to our plates and cutlery but it was up to us to hazard a guess at what we were eating. Eating and drinking with utensils in the dark took a bit of getting used to and I’ll be totally honest, I ate most of the dishes with my hands and fork. With a focus on sparking a sensory response, chef Pascal regularly rotates the menu with dishes that mix different temperatures, tastes and textures. The dining experience was executed to precision and although we had an initial feeling of excited apprehension, we eventually forgot that we were in fact eating and chatting in total darkness.
Offering a 3-course menu at $500 per person with the option of wine pairing at $700 per person and no service charge (5% of restaurant profits go directly to the Hong Kong Society of the Blind), Alchemy is a one-of-a-kind restaurant that is sure to get HK’s epicurean crowd talking. Perfectly suited to an intimate one-on-one or small group dinner, you’ll find yourselves really listening to each other without any outside distractions. That being said, it may also be a great ditch-and-dash spot if the date isn’t going quite the way you’d expected! So, if you’re looking for a fun, new and exciting dinner spot, head over to Alchemy and let your senses guide you!
Alchemy, G/F-LG/F, 16 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong, www.alchemy-concept.com