Review Score: 92 / 100.
In retrospect, I honestly couldn’t think of many restaurants around the world who created as many waves in recent culinary history as Noma did. From being ridiculed by locals as Seal F**kers, to garnering international acclaim and being crowned the best restaurant in the World (if there’s even such a thing) many times over. It is destination restaurant that I had always wanted to dine at, although never had such luck to whilst working in the Netherlands. I was finally rewarded for my patience when I bagged the lottery for lunch at Noma Tokyo, in the opulent Mandarin Oriental. And what a lunch that was, truly a revelation on all counts (More Here).
Noma is slated to move to a new location in Christiania, which is a hippie suburb in Copenhagen. So I reckon I’ll have to visit its original location one more time before the move., plus Copenhagen is a fantastic city to visit (and to live in, if one feels so inclined).
We enter the restaurant and were immediately greeted by the kitchen platoon, who seemed totally psyched and ready to rock out a brilliant meal. Then after being seated, we were greeted by this other guy. Why hello there, big fella!
We start off the meal with a perfect summery course of First apple of the new season. This was little globules of crisp, tart apples with herbs on top. At the bottom was a sauce made from fermented apples, which was rich and dark with some earthy sweetness. A very refreshing, and apt start to the meal. We enjoyed it so much we ate the entire apple around it as well, which was obviously very good.
The next course were three bites of Reeve’s plum with kelp skin, flatbread and ant paste, and nasturtium stuffed with black currant berry. The Reeve’s plum was well balanced and sweet, with a hint of umami from the kelp. The flatbread was amazing with the ant paste, the latter of which consisted of some mayonnaise like paste and ants strewn across, which had the most amazing citrus punch to it. The combination of textures and flavours were brilliant, and could actually imagine snacking on these quite happily. Certainly brought me back to the Nagano wood ants that were served with the Botanebi at Noma Tokyo. The final bite was also a surprise, as I bit into the black currant berry, of which the surface was actually brittle, that cracked and brought forth a torrent of intense currant juice which poured into my gob. All three were quite delicious and a surprise in different ways.
I saw this dish on Instagram and was blown by how visually stunning it was. Now that it’s actually right in my face, it seemed rather petite but equally impressive. Radish pie, with the radish marinated with Horseradish and a tart crust made from seaweed. The radish was light and delicate, with the tinge of heat from the Horseradish, followed by a lovely bite and texture from the tart. A beautifully balanced dish.
Next was grilled baby corn wrapped with nasturtium leaves, topped off with horseradish cream. The corn was grilled in stages, and had a natural sweetness and lovely smokiness permeated through it, and then balanced against the cool, savory cream.
The following course was air-dried tomatoes with fresh milk curd. The air-dried tomatoes had a very intense, concentrated sweetness and tartness to it, while the fresh curd was perfectly smooth as silk. I can’t recall exactly, but I think the juice was Sorrel, which added another hint of acidity to the dish.
Next, was sea urchin with hen of the woods, pickled Chantarelle mushrooms, wrapped with lettuce. The initial bite penetrated the crisp lettuce, what followed next was a burst of the freshest, luscious sea urchin that one could possibly imagine. Stunning freshness and it felt like biting right into the sea.
Moving on, was lobster with barbecued onions and lavender. The lobster was perfectly cooked and sweet, whilst the onions were also nicely barbecued with a hint of smokiness and sweetness as well. In between were tiny bits of lavender that added the perfect amount of perfume to the dish, which was terribly well balanced.
The next course was slowly cooked butternut squash, with kelp chips, beech nuts and barley. The sauce had a velvet, sweetness and a hint of acidity to it, which was a good contrast against the rich butternut squash. The kelp chips and beech nuts added some texture, which were also quite lovely.
I understand that the next dish was conceived back in Noma Australia, although then they had use the amazing, local snow crab. It is encouraging to see the team is constantly evolving and learning, then bringing new techniques and concepts back home to Copenhagen to further refine. This particular iteration of the dish with king crab and egg yolk sauce was ridiculously decadent, with the sweet, meaty flesh contrasted against the rich egg yolk. Another brilliant dish for the books.
Just a preview of what is to come.
Next, were an array of charred greens which had been brushed with scallop paste. It was an impressive collection of varied, textured, smoky and bitter greens which were all quite delicious. The scallop paste added a salty, savory element to the dish, that had an almost Asian feel to it.
Finally, for the main course, we had a whole roasted wild duck. On the side were some large leaves to wrap it with and some sauces to accompany it. The duck tasted great, albeit certain parts could have been cooked a bit longer as it was verging on rare. Didn’t quite fancy the leaf wrappers, which were a bit too dense and tough for my liking.
Progressing to the dessert courses, which kicked off with a Sheep’s milk pudding of sorts topped off with ant paste. The sheep’s milk was light, while the paste on top brought some sweetness and acidity to the dish. Notably, the texture of the ant paste was a tad coarse, and not sure if that was the intended effect.
And the coup de grace, was another dish created back in Australia and brought back home. Black currant wood ice cream with roasted Kanini, and then topped with a blanket of wild flowers. It was like a Magnum ice cream bar, but refined and was utterly luxurious. In the middle, the ice cream had a hint of black currant and was pure velvet. This was then coated with what I reckon was the roasted Kanini, which was redolent of a nutty caramel. The bed of wild flowers added some slight bitterness to balanced against the rich, sweetness. This was a visually stunning dish, and mighty delicious to boot.
We capped off the meal with seasonal wild raspberries.
Some moss cooked in chocolate which had a lovely crisp texture. Followed by chocolate covered cep mushrooms, which was also served back in Tokyo.
And some fancy Eggnog, with a potent Schnapps flavour.
And a surprise birthday cake! Thanks Noma!
It was certainly fun to kick off my birthday adventure in Scandinavia with a trip down memory lane at Noma, albeit back in their home ground with the same impeccable level of service and warmth that one might expect here. Food was seasonal, and some dishes were quite a surprise. Overall, a delicious and enjoyable experience. I definitely left here quite satiated, and needed a good, long walk to breathe and bask in the invigorating sunshine at Nyhaven. Indeed, it was a good day to be alive.
Location: Strandgade 93, DK-1401 Copenhagen, Denmark. +45 3296 3297. Website.
(Please note that the restaurant will close by End December 2016 and move to a new location, so do follow their website or newsletter for the latest updates)