We’ve been glued to Instagram ever since January 9, when the NOMA Japan pop-up opened in Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. NOMA in Copenhagen is considered by many to be the world’s best restaurant, and chef and owner René Redzepi is known for being obsessed with local, wild ingredients. This is the first time he’s applying that philosophy outside of his native landscape, and the results look (and apparently taste) unbelievable, and has critics all like:
Here are some of our favorite Instagram photos from #nomajapan. WARNING: You might want to put a bucket down to catch the drool that’s about to leak out of your face.
First impressions are important, which may be why raw langoustine with ants is the opening course. Ants contain formic acid, which can mimic the sourness of citrus, according to Bloomberg food critic Tejal Rao.
Although Redzepi could easily have used actual citrus in his opening volley—they’re in season right now and he uses four different kinds in this salad.
Redzepi brought his team of 60+ chefs and servers over from Copenhagen to staff the pop-up. Shucking and prepping clams for this seaweed-crusted tart reportedly takes the staff 8 hours.
But this two-Michelin star chef isn’t too famous to serve the food himself. This guy is seriously the best, and totally worth the roughly $2k it costs to book dinner and a one-night hotel stay (lunch is more like $400, according to Condé Nast Traveler).
Redzepi uses hyper local ingredients back in Copenhagen, and he’s brought that same sensibility to Tokyo. Almost all the ingredients are farmed, caught, or foraged in Japan.
This ode to unripe strawberries illustrates why Josh Ozersky of Time once described Redzepi as “the personification of nature worship.” Apparently it took Redzepi three months to find a strawberry farmer who would harvest his fruit before it ripened.
Sometimes he lets the ingredients speak for themselves, but other times he totally deconstructs them to amazing and dramatic effect. For one dish, scallops are dried, mixed with beeswax, and then aerated for a spongey texture.
Those who have eaten at NOMA in Copenhagen may be familiar with this dessert: chocolate covered fermented mushrooms. These ones come with chewable cinnamon sticks on in what looks like a bowl of bonsai.
Pretty as some of the dishes are, our favorite photo from NOMA Japan is this one, from the man himself.
Chef crush, big time.