Noma is an acronym for “Nordisk mad” (which means Nordic food) and that says all about René Redzepi’s intention of creating and reinventing Nordic food. Chef René Redzepi is a brilliant man who is pushing the frontiers of food. The chef was born in Copenhagen and gained experience at a local Michelin starred restaurant in Copenhagen. At the age of 19, he started at Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier in Southern France. In 1999, he worked at the famous El Bulli in Spain during 1 season. Before opening his own restaurant, he also worked at Kong Hans Kælder, and at The French Laundry in California.
The Past: Noma 1.0 And International Pop-ups
Noma 1.0 opened in 2004 and created not only the New Nordic Food revolution but also gave echoes around the world on focusing on using what is local. Redzepi became the godfather of the Nordic cuisine and one of the most important figures of the ‘locally sourced’ kitchen philosophy.
The chef sources almost all of his food locally and does a lot of research by foraging for food in the wild. The cooking is extremely seasonal and focuses on what is available at the time. Fermentation and dehydration are also important aspects of René Redzepi’s kitchen.
At Noma 1.0, several truly amazing dishes were served that went straight into the history books. Everything from pure products such as ants to innovative dishes like the chestnut and löjrom, cress and walnut and all the newly discovered Nordic herbs and vegetables. The restaurant and the team became so famous that they started touring the world just like a rock band. They did renowned pop-ups in London, Japan, Australia and Mexico.
Noma 2.0 opened in 2018. Their focus changed to three seasonal menus only, with seafood season from January to late spring, followed by a vegetarian season, which is then overtaken in early fall by a game and forest season. The latter being the only season where meat will play a starring role.
Restaurant Location & Exterior
The restaurant is situated a bit further from the centre of Copenhagen but still within walking distance on a nice day. It is housed in a beautiful wood and brick building with relaxing views over the water. The restaurant is connected to a protected building located against a natural elevated bank, which houses various other kitchens and working areas. The new Noma is an 11-building complex featuring greenhouses, fermentation rooms, a staff canteen, private dining room, bakery, research kitchens, live seafood tanks and more. There are already several greenhouses next to the restaurant, but there is ample space to develop and there are talks of more greenhouses on both land and water.
The dining room is full of light and air and is as welcoming as the staff when you arrive. The interior retained the character of the past: modest and elegant, with a focus on natural materials. The inspiration came from the Danish farms and the whole radiates tranquillity. Here, too, the principle was that the functional and the aesthetic must go hand in hand. Guests also have the option to explore several of the surrounding buildings. The spaces between the individual buildings are enclosed in glass, so that they and the noma team remain in constant contact with nature and the changing seasons. Noma has a staff that displayd both a joy and pride of their working place. It is an honour to be served by them.
Of course, service is not enough. Noma has been known for pushing the boundaries of food flavours and product excellence. The restaurant still pushes the boundaries with dishes such as the plankton ice cream, jellyfish like creations and many more. However, today, the focus lays more and more on research and the perfection of ingredients in order to serve the perfect products in the best (and often purest) way possible. Fermentation is an important technique to conserve and change the flavours and the team even has their own fermentation lab today. Some incredible dishes from our recent menu included the salad of sea urchin with pumpkin, the squid with seaweed butter, and the king crab feast, with a barbecued leg and collar, lion’s mane mushrooms and a warm broth. But everything you will taste at Noma is extraordinary in terms of pure flavours and naturalness.
The wine list is extensive with a lot of hard to find natural wines but also there are some great pairings with juices. It is a wise choice to try some glasses of both pairings.
Seafood Season Menu January 2020
Score & Practical
Noma alone is definitely worth the trip to Copenhagen. The team changed the way we look at and consume food, and today it is all about product excellence. Be prepared to taste some of the best products and flavours you have ever tasted, in a setting that is ultimately Nordic, balanced and tranquilizing. The big challenge now is to get a reservation.
Written by Joakim, Frank & Sven