Restaurant review: noma
This is my first restaurant review and I think it is necessary because it is for the number 1 restaurant in the world. I haven’t posted in a long, long time because…study abroad. I’m in Copenhagen, Denmark for the fall semester. When I found out that Copenhagen is home to the #1 restaurant in the world, noma, I knew I had to go. The restaurant is known for being minimalistic and serving Nordic cuisine, where all the ingredients are gathered from around the area. Noma has 2 Michelin stars and has been named the best restaurant in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014. They make slight changes to their menu based on the season but there is a set menu of usually 20 courses (very small portions) and the meals are about 3 hours long.
The restaurant, with seating only for 45 people, is known for its extremely long reservations. Typically, you have to book your reservation 2 months in advance and it may be hard even then to get a spot. Our situation was extremely rare and unexpected – my foodie friend Karina was looking at the reservation schedule online and there happened to be an open spot for 2 days later! We thought it was most likely because someone had just canceled. Two days later, we went to noma at 1 pm for lunch. (Their lunch and dinner menus are the same).
The day of noma
Karina and I were still in shock we got a reservation to noma just 2 days ago. If I had gotten a reservation, I would have expected 2 whole months of anticipation but the fact that we were going was still processing. Neither of us ate anything for breakfast since we were anticipating a huge meal. After class, we took the bus over to noma, which is in Christianhavn. The restaurant was very hidden and discrete. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, in an industrial looking area right next to the water. We got to the restaurant about 10 minutes early but they sat us down right away. There was one little table on the side that was waiting for us, the rest were all filled. The waiters who greeted us were very friendly.
There were 10 appetizers that all came pretty fast, one after another. They were all very smallest samples, about 1 or 2 bites. As soon as we were finished, another waiter would come with the next dish. I could barely keep up with taking photos, eating, and discussing the food with Karina!
Even though there were about 10 appetizers, I did not feel full. My favorite one was the brown butter flatbread with wild roses. It had a sweet, floral taste and was very delicate. Another favorite was the baked leaves and watercress sandwich, that tasted like potato chips. The savory Æbleskiver was another good one – the waiter said it had grasshopper sauce on top of it but we could barely taste it. We had anticipated the beef tartar with ants for a while because it is one of the more famous dishes at noma. I had never eaten ants before but I was pleasantly surprised by a huge burst of flavor. They use ants because it is a natural salt and there aren’t any normal salts in the Nordic region. The acidity of the ants is supposed to balance the beef tartar. Having never tried raw beef before, it was actually not too bad.
After the appetizers, we had the option of ordering the wine or juice menu along with our main courses. Since the wine was on the more expensive side and because we were not big wine enthusiasts, Karina and I went with the juices. There were 6 juices, all freshly made. Our favorite was the apple and pine juice, followed by the grape juice. There were also cucumber, watercress, and celery and seaweed juices. These tasted less like juices that I was used to since they weren’t sweet (no added sugars!) If I were to go again, I would definitely order the apple and pine juice but not the others.
In between the appetizers and main courses, we were given a basket of bread with creme fraiche. Of course, it was amazing. The main dishes were bigger portions and came at a much slower pace compared to the appetizers. We were also anticipating the bone marrow, since that was a unique dish that a lot of people are turned off by. It had a surprisingly jelly-like texture that I was not a fan of. The nasturtium flowers were good though! My favorite was the butternut squash since it was such a simple dish and because I love butternut squash. The creamy sauce went perfectly with it.
Dessert (the part you’ve all been waiting for)
After the main courses, we were basically full. The food was all paced out over a long period of time so we were not stuffed and of course, we had room for dessert! I loved all of them but my favorite was the almond cream, mashed potato, and plum compote. This dish truly blew my mind. I tried a little bit of each of the three parts individually, and they were all good alone. Then, I had a spoonful of a little bit of each and together, the combination was amazing.
After the meal
We were extremely satisfied with our 3 hour long meal and could still barely believe we were at the best restaurant in the world. Since we were one of the last people to leave, we asked our waiter if we could have a tour of the kitchen. He was happy to let us take a look. When we were brought into the kitchen, all of the chefs happily greeted us. There were about 20 of them, all saying “hi! hi! hi!” The lounge they had upstairs, where they brainstorm new recipe ideas looked really cool.
Noma was definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. There were so many new textures and tastes I have never had before and I found that there were some things I liked and some I didn’t. The service was absolutely flawless and I like how the waiters all rotated so we would have a different one for each of the courses. I also enjoyed that the chefs themselves would serve their own dishes and describe them for us. This was one of the most exquisite food experiences I’ve had and I would recommend it to all foodies who are willing to try something new!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions