Noma – Heavenly lightness of good food

Scandinavian food when it’s best

The entrance to heavenly food

I’m in love. In love with noma. It’s as simple as that. noma is the best place to eat in Copenhagen at the moment, in my opinion. I’ll try to explain why. But first, I’d like to introduce what I ate there.

noma’s good food:


noma’s snack


Crispy paper-thin and generously salted skin flakes of pork, chicken and fish being the best crisps I’ve ever had. The crispy-ness of them was remarkable. Fried tempura scrimps and mackerel and a cream comprising cepe mushrooms (boletus edulis).

noma’s amuse

What an amuse. Watch the photo. Doesn’t it look like a painting? I think the waiter called it milk soup with fresh cheese and with lump fish roe, seaweed, radish, snow made of semi-frozen horseradish and underneath it some brown/black crackling stuff I never found out what was.

The horseradish contained a hidden surprise. In my mouth the cold root and the stuff under it melted a little, and the next second it fire worked, unexpectedly. It was like a small blow and an explosion, completely new and innovative, to me, the cool-ness and tingle-ness of it, all at the same time. Moving the spoon round at the bottom of the plate, the algae were revealed, which weren’t at all what is often served with maki rolls and sushi, sometime a bit leathery, maybe. No, this was very different and so much better. If you can talk about tenderness, I think this the right word to describe its texture. The taste was fresh and mild, not really bitter, perhaps a bit like the taste of artichoke. A really delicious course.

noma’s eel

Exquisite smoked eel of the finest quality melting on my tongue, and cider vinegar gelly with eel soup and dill. Although the power, the fat-ness of the fish, and the taste of smoke, this dish remained light and with finesse. The apple and the herbs must be the reason behind this. The various ingredients, and the perfect balance of fat, salt, sweet and sour gave an impression of the high complexity in this good food.


noma’s main course

Roasted chicken with an intense, powerful and delicate sauce, not thick. The green parsley foam and the nicely well-done cooked parsnip were both very tasty. Flowers of spring on the top emphasising the pureness and wish for presenting the season as well as the idea of the Scandinavian origin.

I got two slices of nice, moist and tender chicken. The one part was a tiny bit rose in the middle of the thickest part of the meat. However, and I would like to stress this, it didn’t change the taste nor the eating experiencing comparing with the other fully cooked part.


noma’s sweet thing

Brilliant dessert. Buttermilk jelly at the bottom and ice-cream with liquorish raisins kicking the mild taste, and on top, the decorative sweet malt flakes. But most importantly the sprinkled mint leaves, this is where the brilliance come in, the fine characteristical and fresh taste sort of took the flavour of this dish to another dimension. The mint matched the strong and intense taste of the raisins and gave lightness to it. Again each ingredient was tasty in itself, but mixing them and that’s what I did with the last 2-3 spoonfuls, to circle my spoon round the plate and to melt the rest altogether – even nicer.

What I love so much about this food is the lightness and elegance of it, the fact that all superfluous fat had been removed. I was stunned by millions of flavours. That’s how I sensed it, and afterwards when I left the place, feeling light and tremendously happy. This food is so high-level and complex that I can hardly find ways of describing it. The large number of ingredients in each plate makes it impossible to remember every one of them. Each single little element was wonderful and mixing them made the course even better.

I would like to emphasize that the service which the waiters provided was excellent. First of all they made me feel welcome and easy. I liked the way they explained us about the food, and one waiter helped me with the chair, when I was going to the loo. All in all to the point, not too much and not too less.

We had one glass of white wine to accompany the food. The sommelier suggested a Grüner Veltliner, Spätlese from Fred Loimer (forgot which year, again sorry). It had a wonderful smell, lots of it and taste, full-bodied and well-balanced dryness and sweetness. Nicely cool at first, hiding a bit of the fruit and this went well with the amuse, and then a bit warmer and more soft for the eel but still with a good body, also for the chicken. To my surprise it didn’t hurt the dessert either.

We got the best, in my view, table in the restaurant, watching the ships in the canal, and further away the new building of the Royal Danish Theatre and Nyhavn‘s colourful houses and boats.

To be honest, I had very high expectations. I’ve had dinner at quite a few one Michelin Star places here, which were all very lovely, but I’ve never tried a two stars restaurant before. I had also heard very good things about noma lately and I was thus very intrigued, high prospects. However, every expectation was fulfilled. I had a splendid time and actually the impression stayed with me longer than just for the rest of the day.

Senses and surprises – that’s what I look for in dining. And noma truly understands how to provide it. noma really has knocked me sideways!

Oh, one fantastic thing, though that noma didn’t provide directly, was to share this experience and to watch how my friend enjoyed it and was surprised by it as much as I was. That was really something.

By the way, what to eat for breakfast at such a noma day? Rolled oats, of course, with cane sugar and milk. But just a small portion, though.

I wonder why the name of this great restaurant is ‘noma’? Short for ‘Nordisk mad’ (Nordic food) in Danish?

Two stars – what makes three of them? Perhaps a ‘Toilet’ sign on the door?

noma Thursday 29 March 2007

10 Responses to “Noma – Heavenly lightness of good food”

  • absintheur – That’s why I don’t rate restaurants; I don’t want to be a judge. I would like people to get a feeling of my taste by reading my description about how I experienced the food I eat and where I dined. My wish is to thereby enable a comparison with people’s own taste so that he/she can evaluated whether a restaurant would be a good selection for him/her, too.

    Purple prose. Hmm, learned a new term there, thanks! As far as I understand what you say, noma really was a purple prose. To me.

    Do you know of any restaurant in Prague that’s able to provide what you’re looking for?

    What about the Kruts absinthe, have you ever tried that?


  • I find blogs like yours – and Robert Gilles – to be excellent resources; they speak “my language”, if you like. I actually don’t trust guide books – Michelin’s “Bib Gourmand” award to one Prague restaurant is SO wrong. I also do not like the acclaim given to experimental cuisine ( Bulli etc), but that is a personal preference.

    The words “honesty and dedication” appeal to me. It’s something that you can sense sometimes when you first sit down – like a 6th sense. The pleasure of anticipation, when this happens, is truly joyful. A long lunch streches out before you, waiting…like a friend you haven’t yet met. Purple prose? Maybe, but heartfelt.

  • Restaurants in that end do have a lot of foreign customers, I guess, and therefore need to take cultural differences into consideration.

    But it’s a problem. When your foreign and go to a new city – where and how to find the nice spots with high quality ingredients and honesty and dedication?

    Every city should have a guide, where people write their opinion about eating and other amusements. Like the mitKBH on Copenhagen for example, but in Danish.

    So far, I haven’t had much time to explore WordPress. Unfortunately. I’ve browsed around Robert-Gilles Martineau’s blogs a little. Why do you ask?

  • “where they served wine with the sick taste of cork and made me pay for the bad one as well as the one that was fine”

    LOL 🙂 Welcome! A friend of mine had a bottle of red wine “served” on his shirt. The manager came over and said that he wouldn’t charge for the full bottle – only what was left! This is Prague. It is getting better, though.

    Those places that you mention are very expensive:

    Traditional Czech Potato Soup: 195,- Traditional Czech Crispy Duck, Red Cabbage, Bacon Dumplings and Dripping Pancake 495,>

    Crazy! and if you wish to eat this kind of food, then this is not the place anyway. I also note the trite Asian element to the menu:

    “Chicken Soup with Fresh Galgan, Coriander and Coconut Cream” 245,-

    Again, a crazy price and from what I hear, very average.

    This one made me smile: “Grilled norwegian salmon with Panko crust, udon noodles with enoki mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and spring onion: 445,” Those sun dried tomatoes again!.. looks pretty on the plate, I guess! This is the definition of CON – fusion.

    Years ago (mid 90s) I went to their first place. The service was shocking…in that one felt as if the staff were trained at a boot camp. Every few minutes the waitress appeared and did something – the final straw was the uninvited appearance of a cheese trolley, like a tank rolling in. Very stressful and pretensious. This is the problem with many so called “high end” restaurants, which are merely shimmering mirages of gastronomy.

    I find that one should eat either in “mom and pop” style eateries, or places that are truly committed to their craft, and have a quiet self confidence.

    Sermon ends 🙂

    Do you read Robert-Gilles Martineau’s blogs?

  • Wow, thanks! I wasn’t aware of that. Actually, I have been to Kruts‘ but to watch a comedy show, not to drink the absinthe, unfortunately. Is it good?

    I tried the Czech absinthe last year and also the French variant, which I liked more, in Paris in a not recommendable restaurant. However, they do know how to serve it – a small tower arrived with ice on the top and little taps round it to pour the water drop by drop onto the absinthe spoon melting the sugar (?) down to the green liquid. It was so funny to see how people at other tables also ordered this booze afterwards.

    Anyways, I don’t like the chain concepts much, when it results in mainstream and no personality. The Mlynec restaurant though, part of the same group, was almost as nice as the Bellevue one, and I couldn’t really complain about their service. Especially, the Mlynec did a good job although there were almost 30 of us.

    One last note on service in Prague. There is a place by the water front close to the Charles Bridge but on the castle side, where they served wine with the sick taste of cork and made me pay for the bad one as well as the one that was fine!

  • Hi Trine!

    The Prague dining scene is influenced by tourism in the down town area. Things are better in Prague 2, and in some hidden corners of Staro Meste. The place that you mention, Bellevue, is part of a chain which I avoid; the foie gras was most likely Hungarian and good!! I love it with a simple chutney and brioche toast. The best I ever had was in a pub in Karlovy Vary during the annual film festival 🙂

    Unfortunately there is a big problem with service standards in Prague.

    Kruts Karport is a cafe and an absinthe! Here’s a picture:

  • Hi absintheur

    The service at noma is great, personal, to the point and just right, right.

    The Kruts Karport you mention is a bar/cafe they have absinthe, but I don’t think that they produce it themselves. In the old days it was the only place in Copenhagen where you could get this green drink.

    But the absinthe you get in Czech Republic isn’t that different from the stuff they have in France and Switzerland?

    Prague, by the way, I’ve had a couple of nice eating experiences there, Bellevue Restaurant for one – lovely foie gras I recall. At night, the view from the restaurant is magnificent with the lights on the castle and on the Charles Bridge.


  • Interesting! I have had some very average meals in Copenhagen during brief trips. I think Noma sounds like a gem, thank you. What about the service? As I recall you Danes get it just right – a mix of friendly confident professionalism. PS: Denmark has a brand of absinthe called Kruts’s Karport.

  • Hello Robert

    Thanks so much for your very kind words.


  • In Germany we have an advertisment on Television for a travel company, saying…I want to go to Rio…in bad English….

    Well dear Trine, having read your review I can honestly say…I want to go to Noma…..

    Thanks for a beautiful nd interesting blog.

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