When we were at Copenhagen, we were fortunate enough to score a booking to the world famous restaurant, Noma. According to several sources, this restaurant has been rated the No.1 Restaurant in the world several times. You can read it from another source here: (http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners/noma). In this post I’ll talk about my entire experience, from booking to getting there, dining and the final tour afterwards. So let’s get right to it!
What We Wanted
You can either go there for lunch or dinner. There’s also a shared table of 16 or private dining. The shared table idea is kinda cool cause you just get a giant table and everybody from all over the world sits with you, but we weren’t interested in that. So the mission here was to get a table for a table for 2 for dinner.
Like any other ultra famous restaurant, booking is always a pain in the butt. Though I understand that it’s part of the prestige, because what kind of #1 restaurant would it be if you could just walk in whenever you want right? Now thank goodness, unlike Jiros, they take reservation both online and in you can call in to chat with a representative in english. The official booking instructions are here (http://noma.dk/reservations/).
Reservations for October 2014 were released in the beginning of August starting at 10:00a.m. Copenhagen local time. That meant Alison and I, on separate computers had to wake up at 4:00a.m. in order to get what we wanted. So boom 4:00a.m. comes, Alison and I both load the link. Now we didn’t know this at the time, but you get your reservation via a lottery ticket system. What does that mean? At 4:00a.m. when you go to the reservation website, it comes back with a ticket number. E.g YOU ARE NUMBER #50 in line. You also get informed of approximately how long you have until it’s your turn. You then sit there in front of the computer, confused and asking what the heck you’re doing. If you’re lucky, you are then presented with the actual reservation screen with an option of what time, what day, lunch / dinner, and private / shared table. Otherwise, thanks for nothing, maybe next year.
Alison was unfortunate enough to get something like #1800 (yes i’m serious). I, being the lucky star that I am got #12. Now there’s no youtube video tutorials, and this wasn’t mentioned on the instructions but just imagine a confused asian boy sitting in front of the computer at 4:00a.m. just trying to book dinner, and I just see “YOU ARE NUMBER #12”. So i’m just sitting there like, what the hell do i do?
Anyways maybe 1 minute elapses (and i’m on the phone with Alison asking her what to do), and boom i get my options presented to me. Now there was a SECTION to pick my date, lunch / dinner, and private / shared. But the only options AVAILABLE TO CLICK ON, were 1 of 2 dates (Oct 11 or Oct 18), Lunch, and Private. That’s right, the option menu is really an illusion, because I was really only given 1 option, lunch on the 11th or 18th. So boom, I select Oct 11, it gives you a confirmation number, I’m done and off to bed.
The restaurant was about 2.6km away from our hotel, which was an easy taxi ride. But that entire day we wanted to bike around the city, so Alison and I decided to use the great bike in copenhagen. I can tell you that while I don’t exactly regret it, biking there was a pretty stupid decisions. Oh but why Carson? Biking is so fun in Copenhagen, it’s fun, get off your butt! (Yes I know you’re saying that ELAINE) Guys, let’s be realistic here. After a 20 course meal, you want me to get on a bike, and go 2.6km? Get your head out of your ass. Now, I did it cause I had no choice, but I felt like crap half way through that bike ride. I mean do whatever you want, bike, walk, crawl take a rocket, but my recommendation? Take a taxi.
The Actual Meal
Upon stepping foot into the restaurant, you are greeted with an army of chefs. I was so in shock I didn’t even take a freaking picture :(. But there were maybe 10, or 12 chefs all of different ethnic backwards just greeting all the people going for lunch, and it was just a very cool sight.
Our waiter just also happened to be from Toronto, so that was sorta cool. After a brief introduction of the restaurant and the meal format, we said “let’s do it!”, and the most expensive meal of our lives was just about to begin (well one of them).
Note: Even though I am a proud photographer, the following pictures are all taken from the iPhone. With Jiros, I really learned that when the dish is presented to you, you should focus on the dish, and enjoy it because that is the optimal moment to do so, vs spending 30 seconds getting the perfect picture with your DSLR. So I kept all my pictures simple.
The actual meal is composed of 20 courses. Noma calls it their tasting menu so you basically get a little bit of everything. You can choose to get wine pairing or juice pairing. I really wanted to get the wine pairing, but if you know me then you know after half a glass of wine I’m done anyway. Also the thought of going on a 2.6km bike ride after so much wine frightened me, so I went for the juice pairing.
Most of the courses are brought out by the chef who put the finishing touch on it. This was sorta cool because after serving you, they explain to you what it’s made of, where the ingredients come from, and if needed how to eat it. (you’d think it’s obvious but really it’s not) The chefs come from all over the world and each one pretty much has a different accent, so that was interesting in itself. The first 10 courses are really all little appetizers, and the next 6 are “entrees”. The last 4ish are desserts. You get juices maybe.. every 4 courses. Alison got the vegetarian menu, which i’d say its the same for half of it.
All i’m going to show here is the picture of the course, the description, and a simple comment from me. I’m not going to bother telling you where the ingredients came from or how it was made, simply because I forgot. (It’s twenty courses, can you blame me?)
After our really freaking long meal (3 hours), they give you a tour of the restaurant, and a little bit of a history lesson. One of the chefs brings you into the kitchen where they finalize all the food. (Each chef also says hi to you and is super nice) Then you are brought upstairs and shown the prep area, the “food lab” and where the cooks eat. They talk about how the come up with their food, their techniques and just how Noma became what it is today. I didn’t take photos out of respect for the chefs. I did however ask for 1 photo after the tour with our tour guide and our waiter (both were from Toronto!)!
Holy shit, it’s over! 20 courses, 5 bajillion dollars (okay, it was about 400 bucks a person), and KABLAM, Copenhagen, noma , world best restaurant, scratched off the bucket list. What are my final thoughts? Look, 400 bucks a person is no small amount of money, and if you know me, I’m not a lawyer or some investment banker, my name isn’t Andrew Chung. i don’t make a lot of money. But I do like to invest on these type of unique experiences (especially before marriage and kids). And hey it’s not like this happens every meal, on not every trip that we do. You only live once, invest money wisely into assets yes, but also into what you love. Enjoy!