Noma- What it’s Like to Eat at One of the Best Restaurants in the World.

Copenhagen in recent years has become one of the world’s hottest food destinations. New Nordic cuisine, with its emphasis on fresh Scandinavian flavors, simplicity and eating seasonally was catapulted into the world’s culinary spotlight by pioneering chef Rene Redzepi and his groundbreaking restaurant Noma. Currently located in a renovated warehouse along the waterfront in the Christanhaven neighborhood, Noma has earned two Michelin stars and the title of the World’s Best Restaurant 4 times since 2010 (the title went to Spain’s El Cellar de Can Roca in 2013 and again in 2015). With over 100,000 reservation requests per month and two seatings a day getting a table at this lauded 45-seat restaurant requires a great deal of luck. As it turns out fate was on our side and on a sunny June afternoon Steve and I found ourselves waiting at Noma’s unassuming entrance wondering about the culinary experience that awaited us inside.

What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com

Our journey to Noma started 3 months prior. We consider ourselves equal opportunity eaters and are just as likely to seek out the best hot dog stand as chase Michelin stars. However Steve had a 40th birthday to celebrate and we booked our trip to Copenhagen with hopes of eating at Noma. Reservations for an entire month typically open the on first Monday at 10am CET 3 months before, this date can be found on Noma’s home page http://noma.dk/ . This is how I found myself awake at 4am on the first Monday in March, furiously hitting refresh trying to score a coveted reservation (the Noma’s team was in Japan at this time and not accepting phone reservations) without success. A little defeated we made reservations at several other of Copenhagen’s Michelin-starred eateries(a 40th birthday does call for some indulgence after all). A week before our trip I was perusing the Chowhound boards, looking for where to find Copenhagen’s best danishes (which in Denmark interestingly are known as wienerbrød, or Vienna bread), when I spotted a post looking for two people to join them at Noma so they could keep their reservation. A couple of emails and a bit of faith in our new friends Samantha and David (who turned out to be a fun Canadian couple living in Stockholm) and Noma was back on the table.What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com

The dining space at Noma was simultaneously modern and rustic, with exposed bleached beams and plenty of natural light streaming through the windows. Rather than being stiff and formal as one might expect from a restaurant of this caliber,service was refreshingly relaxed. In addition to showcasing Scandinavian flavors Noma also embodies the Danish sense of hygge, or creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.

What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com

Local eau d'vie-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.comWhat it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com

 

The 18 dishes that graced the table over the next three hours reflected the ingredients and flavors I saw in the markets and restaurants across Copenhagen and experienced at an in-home cooking class the day before. Adoration for herbs, flowers and vegetables; a respect for the seafood, pork and dairy that sustained Scandinavia and a reverence for the smoke and vinegar that preserved food for generations past. Every dish was simultaneously inventive yet unfussy, forward thinking and straight-forward. Whether discovering the complexities of foraged greens(both from the land and the sea), contemplating the fact that the mahogany clam in front of you is over 150 years old (apparently they aren’t suitable to eat until they are over 100, I’m not sure who figured that out), or ending the meal with chocolate covered moss; these are dishes that can change the way you think of food.

The first shoots of the season with scallop marinade
The first shoots of the season with scallop marinade-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
Young cheese and new garlicYoung cheese and new garlic-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
Salt roasted new Danish potatosalt roasted new Danish potato-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
Grilled onion with onion preservesGrilled onion with onion preserves-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
Sweet shrimp wrapped in ramson leavesSweet shrimp wrapped in ramson leaves-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
Crispy cabbage with rose pureeCrispy cabbage with rose puree-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
Mahogany clam with fermented grainsMahogany clams with fermented grains-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com White asparagus, black currant leaves and barleyWhite asparagus, black currant leaves and barley-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
Langostine with nasturtium

Langostine with nasturtium- What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com

Roasted marrow with sea buckthornRoasted marrow with sea buckthorn-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com Rhubarb with sheep’s milk yogurt and sorelRhubarb with sheep's milk yogurt and sorel-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
Chocolate reindeer mossChocolate covered reindeer moss-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
Egg liqueurEgg liqueur-What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
The Noma experience didn’t stop when finished our meal. One of Noma’s chefs stopped by the table and asked if we’d like a tour of the kitchen. Ben, an American from Denver, greeted us with a warm smile and first led us to the open kitchen, the heart of Noma where the artful dishes are prepared with a quiet precision. Ben explained there are 50 chefs on staff and typically around 30 interns, who do everything from whittle the birch branches used to serve our potatoes, to joining the foraging team and manning the grill. The interns work for 3 months unpaid for the opportunity to learn in one of the world’s top kitchens. Upstairs revealed a private dining area, an herb garden and the test kitchen where recipes for the coming months are conceived.What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.comWhat it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.comWhat it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.comWhat it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com
At over $700 for dinner and wine for two Noma is most definitely an extravagance. Walking hand in hand with Steve along the sun warmed canals of Christianhaven I reflected on the tastes, sensations and emotions of the previous hours. A warm atmosphere? Check .Enjoying the good things in life? Check. Good people? Check. It’s this sense of hygge that makes Noma a singular dining experience.

47 Comments on “Noma- What it’s Like to Eat at One of the Best Restaurants in the World.

  1. Well, noma is definitely the pride of Copenhagen – if not Denmark. And what incredible luck that you got to go there after all. Can’t believe it’s so difficult to get a table there, but then again, that’s only a good sign, right?
    I will probably never go there as I’m such a fussy eater, but I always enjoy hearing other people’s stories about the place 🙂

    • Noma was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and for us worth every penny!

  2. What an amazing experience! I probably have not tried half the ingredients from what you ate- but it all sounds fantastic. Glad you made it!

    • When you’re at someplace like Noma everything is bound to taste amazing, not to mention for $350 pp we were definitely eating everything brought to the table.

  3. It was nice reading about your experience, fellow travel blogger!

    Regards,
    Hyper Gypsy

  4. Impressive menu. Love how all this amazing new stars are turning luxury eats into relaxed and even fun experiences. Although 700 for dinner is way out of budget right now :/

    • It’s typically not in our dining budget either but a 40th birthday deserves a bit of a splurge.

    • Like avery dish there were so many layers of flavor, it was almost velvety!

  5. This is definitely a meal-experience I want to have. I had a version of this on Lummi Island in Washington, where Blaine Wetzel, a long-time Noma sous-chef opened his own restaurant in a very similar style. The food is simple, yet fantastic and you get a real appreciation of being able to eat seasonally and freshly. I absolutely love langostine, so I am sure that would have been my favorite course! Nice to see the kitchen as well!

    • Noma has blessed us with a number of chefs who trained with Rene.It was hard to pick a favorite but the langostine was up there!

  6. I like the restaurant setting and decor. The food looks really delicious, but the portions are very small. To be honest with you, I avoid places like these because although the food is great, they rip you off.
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    • The portions were decently sized considering we got 18 courses. We typically don’t spend this much on a meal but a 40th birthday certainly deserves a splurge.

    • The price tag is certainly more than we normally spend but a 40th birthday definitely calls for a splurge.

  7. Looks like it was an amazing experience to savor new and delicious foods in a place like that. But when we travel, we generally cook for ourselves in apartments, to save money. If I had to pay to eat in places like this, I would never be able to travel!

  8. Beautiful pictures! I love the décor of the restaurant! I love the exposed rustic beams! I haven’t made it to Copenhagen yet, but I will have to check Noma out when I get there.

    • Noma packs up the entire operation for few months every year and heads to a different country. Last year they were in Noma and this year they are currently in Australia.

  9. I went food foraging in Cape Town but my meal wasn’t as gorgeous as this. I would love to eat at Noma! It would be worth a trip to Copenhagen just for the meal.

  10. We’re very much the same – we love street food just as much as Michelin star restaurants. Did both in Copenhagen too, but we weren’t so lucky to get the reservation. We ate at Relae instead, which was also very good. All of the dishes at Noma look fascinating and I would love to pick them apart to examine the ingredients. Bone marrow! Yum.

    • I would also recommend Amass, run by another Noma protege the food was equally as artistic yet more accessible.

  11. Just lovely! You make me want to trot out to Copenhagen now to enjoy a feast like this. Total foodie over here!

    • The Copenhagen is definitely a destination for you! The food everywhere was great.

  12. Went to Copenhagen but didn’t get a chance to get in!!! It is booked for months in advance. Now I really want to go back!!!

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