NOMA: The Stories And The Myths Behind It… and How I Made It Here
I made it to NOMA, the restaurant hailed as the holy grail of all the World’s Bests and all the famous (and infamous) Michelin-starred restaurants, the restaurant which for many consecutive years was awarded the recognition of Number 1 Best Restaurant in the World. After several months of calling them back and forth, and being put in their 20,000 people waitlist, I finally made it inside…and not just to take a peek mind you, but I was able to get a table and actually eat inside!
NOMA as we know it is shrouded in mystery. For those of you who have been here and have experienced it, you will probably agree with me that all these stories and myths surrounding it are most likely true and the hype around it are all deserving. And once you get that most coveted table in your hands, you realize that coming all the way here (from wherever you are in the world and waiting for months to receive a call back from their reservations) was definitely all worth the trouble!
Rene Redzepi, the chef, the owner, the creator of NOMA is a real genius, a mad scientist (in every sense of the word), who likes to experiment and concoct all these “weird stuff” that eventually turn out to be the most delicious things you will ever eat in your life. We were given a lot of greens to eat like weed, kelp and flowers! We also ate fresh gooseberries, elderflower extracts and drank geranium and coriander oil! We tried fresh Scandinivan sea urchins, whole roasted wild duck and ants on a flat bread! For dessert, we enjoyed their black currant wood ice cream (yes a really delicious kind of wood!) and their trademark moss dipped in Valrhona chocolate — which made this big chocoholic here ecstatic! Yes all these weird stuff I never imagined I would eat like ants, wood and moss — you name it, we had it — were right there in front of me which I all happily devoured!
So how did we make it here? NOMA, being the world’s best is also (infamously) known as the hardest table to book — and rightfully so. You can only make your reservations exactly three months in advance of your preferred date and time (and must be on the dot). So no matter how far in advance you can call them, it just won’t work. No matter who you are, what your last name is or who you will be dining with, they don’t really care. You can name drop as much as you want, they won’t even bother. They don’t need these things, to be honest. In short, even if you beg them, it won’t change a thing! If you didn’t get the reservation, you simply didn’t get the reservation. Just like the 20,000 other people in their reservation list every month, all vying for a seat in their sacred 45-pax dining room!
We actually called them every single day, three months in advance to be exact. We called them unceasingly until finally, someone answered our call and got our hopes high…only to find out after 30 seconds of speaking to us that the seats were all gone because hundreds of other names from all over the world have just called a minute or so right before us! We must be really THAT unlucky we thought… so we hang up. But in our heads, we never gave up.
Fast forward to our trip and we finally reached Copenhagen. Again, we called them EVERY SINGLE DAY and gave them every imaginable reason and excuse why we NEEDED to dine in their restaurant. Of course, we were turned down too every single time. We said okay we may not be lucky now, but who knows, our persistence (aka our kakulitan) may just get us there sooner than later. Seven days in Copenhagen and still no reply from their reservations. We are scheduled to leave in the next 2 days, have packed most of our bags and were ready to go home and simply let it go. (Besides as we tried to console ourselves, we have already eaten in some of the other amazing restaurants in the city too — but more on that in a future post!)
But because NOMA is NOMA… and we felt that since we were already there and just a few streets away from the world’s best, we might as well make it inside too! So our never ending quest to get that table continued on…
Then one cold morning, I received an email from NOMA and with it a simple message that said to call them back. Of course, my whole body shivered like it never did before. (It was 5 degrees outside but my body felt like 0 degrees inside!) After that call, I knew right then and there that the stars were now slowly aligning for us! Yes we finally got the table… and not just any table they said, but the chef’s table! (So I guess I’m lucky after all!)
Now here’s another myth about NOMA. A lot of people think that a restaurant like NOMA with the rating and reputation they have is a very formal and strict restaurant. Well guess what? I was very much surprised to find out that this is not the case at all! This restaurant is about as casual a restaurant as could ever be. There were no white tablecloths or silverware anywhere to be seen! Of course many people will naturally dress up a bit when dining here, but there is certainly no dresscode in this restaurant. The only thing you really need when in NOMA… is to get that table!
So what were the dishes that were served to us that one happy, fateful day? Since I don’t want to give you such a long post here, I decided to break this article down and move the story about the food to the next blog post! (Just click the link down below.)
But before we even get there, you have to see this amazing video made by the superstar chef (and mad scientist) of NOMA himself, Rene Redzepi, who narrates to us the real story behind the past, present and future of the world’s best and let’s find out why this is indeed the most influential restaurant in the world.
To continue reading my story about NOMA and what I ate here, just click the link here!