Saturday, December 10, 2016

My journey to noma in Copenhagen

A truly magical yet crazy adventure with three lovely ladies from the Girls Love Travel group. This food experience will be one I'll remember for a long time. 

My favorite dishes from noma
Sent to my email on Nov 23, 2016:

Dear Alaine,

I am writing to you from restaurant noma in Copenhagen.

We have you on our waiting list for the 29th of November 2016 for a table for 4 people. Please let us know if you are still interested in coming at 12:00 for lunch. 

Please note that we unfortunately cannot put the table on hold and guarantee its availability given the short notice, so we hope to hear from you soon.

Med venlig hilsen/Best regards
Booking Manager


Oh wait, I need to fill those remaining seats because I can't just eat at noma alone and it's noma so I could probably find others who are as crazy as me about wanting to dine here.

I messaged everyone I knew that might be interested and the possibility to join me. I couldn't find anyone. I took to Facebook and posted in my female travel bloggers group and the Girls Love Travel group. I've met a few people in real life from these groups so I know that these women are as passionate about travel as I am. I was hoping that some were also diehard foodies as well.

I found them after a few hours. Allie was first to respond then another person tagged her Rachel who then messaged Allison. It was totally an adrenaline rush but also nerve wrecking, truly amazing that these ladies came through!

So HAPPY to be able to have this beautiful belated birthday lunch here!
The beautiful nondescript entrance

For a very long time, I've been fascinated with this restaurant. I can't even remember how many years its been that I've been wanting to come here to eat the avant-garde new nordic cuisine. When it started to receive the accolades of Worlds' Best Restaurant, I watched and read closely on the success of this restaurant. Passion, pushing the envelope, creativity, amazing produce, talent are the forefront to Rene Redzepi and his team's success. When one dreams far and impossible then pushes relentlessly forward to realize the dream, it is hard not to notice and be inspired to do the same in one's life.
So I began to plan. I also wanted to make sure that it was the right time. The right time meaning, the food scene is bursting from the inspiration of nordic cuisine in the city of Copenhagen. I've always been fascinated with Nordic history, culture, cuisine, fashion, design, lifestyle, and language. In fact, when I was an undergraduate student at UCLA, I took a number of Scandinavian literature, film, and Swedish classes.

I planned my first trip to Copenhagen as part of a 30th birthday trip at the end of 2013. It was my first visit to Copenhagen and it was cold, rainy, dark but I was happy. I didn't plan noma for this trip because I just wanted to get to know Copenhagen. A few short trips later that resulted in visiting some landmarks like Amalienborg, Nyhavn, Rundetårn, Den lille havefrue (The little mermaid), and some good meals. Fast forward to 2016. I just graduated from my Postgraduate program in hospitality management and was completing my internship in social media for a large hotel company. No plans had been solidified for the rest of the year and I had always wanted to go to noma. With the announcement that noma would be closing to re-open as a different restaurant concept I knew I had to go.

Its been 10 years since my last amazing fine dining experience (which was at Eleven Madison Park in New York when I was living there). It was time...

Ugh. A waiting list. noma releases their bookings 5 months in advance and I tried to book in August as soon as the schedules were open for November bookings. Ugh. Waiting list.

As the months passed, I made plans for a nice dinner at Relae for my 5 day trip to Copenhagen. I also planned for Tivoli gardens, Copenhagen street food, Torvehallerne, a dance class, and wandering around Nørrebro.

Then that email appeared in my inbox while I was traveling through Finland... I half-jokingly now refer to food as Before noma (B.N.) and After noma (A.N.)

A beautiful lounge area
I love wine and I was excited to see so many beautiful bottles of wine from small batch wineries


I arrived earlier than the other girls and was greeted by the entire service staff with huge smiles on their faces. It was a little intimidating at first to see all of them there to greet you at the door. I was also first to arrive for lunch service so there was no other guests in the restaurant. I waited for the others to arrive in the lounge area which was situated by the collection of beautiful bottles of wine. 

I opted out of the wine pairings but two of the girls did the pairing. However, I did order two glasses of wine with a couple of the courses. I love wine and food pairings. It was only lunch and I had dinner at Relae the same evening, I decided to pace myself. 

Photo Credit: Allison M.

The starters:
Apple starter
The contents of this juicy apple starter
Scallops carpaccio
Some leaves and ants! ;-) 
Ants served on a cracker made to look like a branch with cheese and leaves
Radish tart - it looked so beautiful!
The wine pairings and mains begin...

The first wine pairing was a refreshing natural white wine
Milk curd with fresh walnuts and parsley

Sea Urchin wrapped in cabbage - This is probably my favorite!
Langoustine with grilled onion and hot lavender oil - My second favorite dish. The other ladies Loved this dish a lot!
Another beautiful biodynamic white wine paired with the langoustine

A white paired with the butternut squash
Butternut Squash and Barley

I had a glass of this beautiful Moustillant white wine paired with the crab
Steamed crab with egg yolk

The wild duck cooked on top of hay was presented to the table with a caution to look out for the bullets!

A wine with almost port wine qualities to it that was an acquired taste

Cool knife 
Charred greens with scallop paste
An Italian red wine pairing with the wild duck - I also had a glass of this. A traditional pairing for the wild duck.
Whole roasted Wild Duck
Served with a side of greens and horseradish
And pickles of gooseberries, pickles, flower, and leaves
Something Sweet to end the journey:

Sweet dessert wine

A Scandinavian dessert of plum, mashed potatoes, whipped cream in an aquavit sauce
Black current wood ice cream Popsicle with roasted konini flowers

Chocolate moss and chocolate flower

Served with whipped cream and aquavit sauce

A very alcoholic egg cream liquor. Photo Credit: Allison M.

We really didn't want this noma food experience to end... :-(

My favorite dishes were the Sea Urchin, Langoustine, Crab, Plum and Potato dessert, and the Chocolate covered Moss. Overall, I loved the personalised and warm service, attention to detail in the presentation of the dishes, the clean and rustic ambiance of the restaurant, and they even accommodated our food allergies. 

We had such an amazing time talking, eating, gossiping, and the experience ended with a tour in the kitchens. (Next post!)

What was the most memorable dish for you?

Allie L. says...
I would say the chocolate covered moss was the most surprising. I would never have expected that something you see so often out in nature could be not only edible but delicious! I also really enjoyed the langostine with lavender oil. It was a wonderful mix of flavors. I definitely want to incorporate lavender oil in my cooking now.
 Allison M. says
I agree completely with allie! Also really liked the ants (surprisingly) and the crab with egg yolk
Rachel S. says
I would say that I also loved the langoustine. The touch of lavender was very unexpected but made all the difference. The chocolate moss reminded me a lot of chocolate covered kale chips, which I occasionally eat back in California. They also did a great job making all of the dishes gluten free for me! They even made a special gluten free roll with almond flour which was served warm. This was one of the best gluten free breads that I've had and I was super impressed with the result.
Photo Credit: Rachel S. 
L-R: Alaine, Rachel, Allison, Allie
Photo Credit: Rachel S. 

A Very Short Film About the Past, Present and Future of Noma from Rene Redzepi on Vimeo.


  1. Alaine: I liked many things about your approach to this story. Your opener hooked me right away. Describing your connection to and love for Nordic culture is also good context for the reader. Another nice touch is how you used photos to walk me through your meal. Nice job! --Rose / Travelerose Blog

    1. Thank you for reading and the nice comments Rose!

  2. The food presentation all looked very interesting! I'm in GLT too other than FTB, but haven't met anyone offline yet. See you soon!

    1. It was so exciting to have that opportunity to dine there. Once in a lifetime dining experiences.