[Copenhagen] Noma - 1st Visit to World's Best Restarant
A foodie trip to Copenhagen would not be complete without a visit to gastronomic mecca Noma - a 2 Michelin star restaurant and currently #3 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list after being #1 for 4 years! Run by Rene Redzepi, the restaurant is known for its reinvention of the Nordic cuisine and one of the most influential restaurants in the world. Reservations are notoriously hard to get as reservations open 3 months in advance and gets booked out quickly but luckily I was able to get a seating here as part of the Opinionated About Dining's Top 100+ Weekend.
Since it was my first visit to Noma, I was super excited about my visit but I do have to admit that it wasn't exactly what I had imagined. Obviously I had really high expectations given the reputation of the restaurant and the price of the meal, and the food was certainly very interesting and different to anything that I've tried before but if you ask me if this was the best meal I've ever had, I don't think the answer is yes. The food was good and the restaurant served a lot of local and seasonal vegetables using innovative techniques to create dishes that are new to the usual palate but flavors-wise I'm not sure some of the dishes worked 100%. Don't get me wrong though, I am still glad that I visited and tried the food for myself, and I think everyone should do the same to form your own opinion.
The tasting menu cost DKK1900 (US$290) with wine pairing at DKK1100 (US$168) and juice pairing at DKK700 (US$107). Apparently the menu is shorter than before with 15 courses and the same menu is served at both lunch and dinner. One note about the wine pairing is that Noma serves biodynamic wines which are made using the principles of biodynamic agriculture developed by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920's. It's like one step above organic but the method is not without its criticisms and has been characterized as pseudoscience (I'm not going to get into here but you can read more about it by googling this topic). J had the wine pairing while I had the juice pairing, and he didn't quite like his wines as he found the taste to be not as clean as regular wines. Maybe it's an acquired taste as it's all about your preferences and what you are used to. If you choose to forgo the pairings, you can also choose your own wine on their extensive wine list.
We made our way to Noma on the day of our lunch reservation and of course had to take an obligatory selfie in front of the restaurant sign before walking in.
As we entered through the doors, we were greeted by Rene Redzepi himself and his entire team who were all gathered in front of the entrance which was a nice surprise!
The next course was a Vegetable Platter with pickled quail egg, black currant berry, and flatbread with ant paste. Initially we were surprised to be told to start with smoked quail egg but it turned out that the black currant berry was able to overcome the smokiness easily with its bright and tart flavors.
The Radish Pie with seaweed tart, vegetable fudge and horseradish oil was a delectable treat with a hint of spicy finish from the horseradish. Rene told us that the radishes weren't even ready until a few weeks ago so I was glad that we got to try this in time.
My first juice pairing with Verbena/Pine came with the next course which was Fresh Green Asparagus and seasonal herbs served with whipped cream. The asparagus had been barbecued with ants (but it's not visible on the vegetables) which was flavorful to eat with the horseradish whipped cream.
The Bread with virgin butter turned out to be amazing with a super crunchy crust and yet the interior managed to remain fluffy soft and moist.
Fresh Milk Curds and the first green garlic shoots with kelp and roasted yeast in mushroom broth. I quite liked the tofu-like texture of the milk curds while the flavors were light overall.
The next juice pairing with white currant and black currant wood oil.
Pan Seared White Asparagus with barley, elderberry leaves and black currant shoots while topped with fermented caviar sauce.
Sweet Danish Lobster with lavender and rose oil.
We were then treated to a Æbleskiver which is a traditional Danish pancake in the shape of sphere with salted flower blossoms and almond.
The Steamed Norwegian King Crab in cured egg yolk sauce turned out to be our favorite dish of the meal! We were intrigued on how the egg yolk was cured and apparently it was cured in fermented beef which gave it a rich and complex flavor.
The Sorrel/Apple juice pairing.
The Charred Ramson was another interesting dish as it had been grilled with smoked butter and scallop paste. The ramson had such intense scallop flavors - it was like eating scallops but without the real thing.
I loved the presentation of the Turbot grilled on the bone with sweet shrimp ravioli in sweet mushroom broth as it looked like a lily pad pond.
The second part of the Turbot dish included its ribs which had been brushed with a mushroom glaze and served with salted trout roe and pickled rose. We were told that Rene didn't want to waste the meat near the ribs of the fish which is actually very tasty so he came up with this creation.
Before we know it, we were already moving onto desserts with this Dessert of Bitters "Gammel Dansk" (a Danish alcoholic beverage) ice cream with flakes of dry milk and sorrel juice. The dessert wasn't that sweet and we felt that it could have easily passed as one of the starter dishes.
The last juice pairing of Elderflower & Kombucha.
Our last dessert was Moss Cooked in Dark Chocolate with Swedish pine mushroom seasoned with licorice salt. It was my first time eating moss and it was very crunchy to eat.
The dessert was paired with Egg Liqueur with elderflower in it.
After our meal was finished, we got a tour of the kitchens with three in total so we can see where our meals were prepared.
Many of the dishes were cooked on this grill which is outside the restaurant.
We then walked back inside to check out the private dining room on the second floor.
The second floor also housed the second kitchen where the interns were painstakingly assembling the radish pie.
The Noma fermentation lab, or Nordic Food Lab, is situated behind the restaurant and is dedicated to finding new flavors and processes.
Thank you Rene Redzepi and team for the wonderful experience at Noma!
DK-1401 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel: +45 3296 3297
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