A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to dine at Noma. A fellow Dubai blogger and her husband had a table reservation for 4 on a Saturday night, so they needed 2 more persons. Would I be interested? Oh yes!
I had wanted to dine at Noma forever, but getting a reservation is hard work and I’m lazy. I like good food, but I’m not religious, and anything, which requires more from me that filling out an online reservation form a couple of days in advance, turns me off.
We had 18 courses that evening, and I’m not a fan of 10,000 words blog posts, so I’ll keep it short, and I’ll only mention the dishes, which left the biggest impression. If you want to hear more about a certain dish, please leave a comment, and I’ll fill you in.
The first starter was fermented wild plums and wild beach roses. It tasted salty and sour, like a giant smear of Japanese umeboshi. Fermented plum can be quite overwhelming, if you’re not used to the taste, but I liked the “Hello taste buds! This is your wake-up call!” nature of this dish.
If you’re from Denmark like I am, you know how much we treasure new Danish potatoes and the ones I had at Noma were exquisite and one of the most beautifully presented courses that evening.
It’s asparagus season, and the menu both included green and white asparagus. The green asparagus dish looked amazing. It was topped with kelp and tasted very healthy.
I think a vegan or two would have cried tears of joy, just by the sight of it. The delicate white asparagus came in a frame of black currant leaves, and the taste was subtle and exquisite.
One of the more conservative dishes was grilled bone marrow topped with garlic and served with lettuce leaves, so you could make your own marrow wrappers.
A person at our table pointed out that it was less sophisticated and experimental, than the other dishes we had, which might be true, but it was nonetheless very delicious and one of my favorites that evening. Maybe I got a less sophisticated taste?
Another favorite of mine was the sliced monkfish liver, which looked like peach-colored tagliatelle. It was served ice cold, and we were advised to eat it quickly, while it was still chilled. You had all that cold creaminess on top of crispiness (the toasted bread), and it was delicious.
We also ate a very old Mahogany clam. The staff told us, you could estimate the age of it by counting the lines outside its shell. I think mine was more than 100 years old, and I felt sad eating it. Can you imagine having survived the rough life of the sea for more than 100 years, and then Sanne comes along and eats you? Shame on me!
When I first saw the forest floor-ish dessert of chocolate covered stuff, I was skeptical. There are so many nice things you can cover in chocolate, so why would you want to cover moss and mushrooms.
Well, turned out that the crunchy, airy texture of the moss actually went really good with the chocolate (a bit like giant, fancy Maltesers), and the intense taste of mushroom actually accentuated the richness of the chocolate perfectly.
The dinner menu was 1700DKK, and I was driving so I had the juice pairing (700DKK), which was different kinds of green juices of varying sweetness. Most of them tasted the same (either apple-like or kale-like), and I regretted that I hadn’t arranged transportation, so I could have gone for the wine pairing instead.
Right after finishing the dinner, all the food was just a blurry mess of flowers, leaves and moss in my mind. To be honest, I felt like I had been chewing up an entire garden.
I tried going through each single dish we had with the help of the printed menu we received and my iPhone pictures, but dissecting the menu and putting each dish under the microscope for analysis felt wrong.
Instead I stepped back a little and have a look at the overall impression. Noma is moving around in the zone between art and food and the dinner actually left me with the same feeling that a visit to MoMA often does. While there are elements, I just don’t get, some of the stuff was absolutely brilliant and made me think.
I loved the experimental spirit of Noma which we got a first hand impression of during the after dinner kitchen tour.
It’s hard to believe that Noma has been Noma for more than 10 years, because the backstage atmosphere was much more like a grass-root start-up, with white board brainstorming and different fermenting projects going on.
We even got to meet René Redzepi, which was a surreal and outright awesome experience. Like a food god, he descended to tell us more about Noma, food and a horrible dining experience he had in Dubai.
I thought that the dinner at Noma would be a one-time, been-there-done-that experience, like a foodie’s pilgrimage or anther box to tick, but the more I think about it, the more I want to go back. I want to dine again at Noma because I’m curious. I want to see what’s going on in this food lab-turned-world’s best restaurant. If only it weren’t that
expensive difficult to get a table..