Noma – the brainchild of Danish mastermind chef René Redzepi – has been named the best restaurant in the world four times. For 10 weeks, starting today, Redzepi will be cooking his award-winning tasting menu at a pop-up version of his restaurant in Sydney, Australia.
More than 27,000 eager diners are currently on the wait list, each one of them willing to shell out the $339 per person that Noma is asking for its unique, bizarre, and otherworldly cuisine. When reservations opened, it sold out in 90 seconds, making nearly $2 million in just a few minutes.
Redzepi is known for whipping up dishes that are hyper-local, crafted to artistic perfection, and above all, surprising. His main restaurant is based in Copenhagen, but he did a pop-up in Japan last January as well. The menu for this Australian version has been carefully guarded up til opening, but we know that he is a fan of some unusual Australian ingredients: think crocodile fat and fire ants.
Lucky diners from Down Under have been sharing their experiences on Instagram. Let’s all celebrate Australia Day with a look at Redzepi’s latest concoctions.
First, the space. The Noma pop-up is in a Sydney neighborhood called Barangaroo, near the water. Inside, the restaurant is spacious, modern, and simply designed. It seats 56 at a time.
The exterior is simple and unassuming, although altogether the pop-up took 6 months to come together. Noma’s stark Scandinavian aesthetic makes a clean backdrop for the complex flavors Redzepi draws forth from the food.
All of the ceramic tableware is locally crafted and commissioned just for this iteration of Noma. At Redzepi’s first pop-up, in Japan, he did the same thing.
Redzepi relocated 75 staff members from his Copenhagen base for the ten-week residency — and brought his family, too.
Let’s whet our palate with a half-beer, half-cider beverage.
Each diner can expect 10 to 12 courses, all of them new creations. Unripe macadamia nuts in a spanner crab broth start things off.
Redzepi sent a team of chefs on foraging explorations to find just the right components for each course, taking full advantage of Australia’s unique ingredients. Here are wild seasonal berries in a seawood broth, topped with kakadu plum dust.
Next up: wattleseed porridge in saltbush leaves, like a kind of twist on Greek stuffed grape leaves. Wattleseed porridge, though rare outside of Australia, is actually a fairly common breakfast Down Under.
Think this is just a pile of rocks in a bowl? Think again. It’s a local seafood selection, topped with tissue-thin chips of crispy crocodile fat.
Where normal restaurants might go for a tuna tartare or crab cake appetizer, Redzepi takes it a step further. This is snow crab from the nearby city of Albany, mixed with egg yolk and cured in fermented kangaroo.
Next up: a savory seafood pie. The Noma version is scallop. The pastry base involves seaweed, and the pie is topped with purple lantana flowers. Redzepi told one diner that the stems are “mildly poisonous”.
Sun-dried tomatoes and sea urchins make an unusual pairing in the next dish, garnished with pepper berries.
Here’s abalone “schnitzel”, served with various foraged nuts and greens.
A kind of bizarre take on a taco, this is what Noma calls a “BBQ’d milk dumpling”. Inside, it’s marron with magpie goose ragu, all wrapped in a crispy milk skin — literally just milk caramelized until crisp enough to use as a shell.
BBQ’d Milk ‘Dumpling’, Marron & Magpie Goose. Call it dumpling or call it taco, this was the dish of the day for me. Perfectly cooked in its shell marron, topped with magpie goose mince, wrapped in nasturtium and finally…that amazing caramelised milk skin taco ???? It was just milk cooked off until you are left with this thin caramelly skin. Have never tasted anything like this before and it was AH-MAZING ???? #nomaaustralia