- Voted The World’s Best Restaurant in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2021
It is hard to imagine the culinary world without Noma. When it opened in 2003, the idea was to challenge the Old World order of gastronomy and celebrate Nordic ingredients. The following year, New Nordic Cuisine was born with a focus on simplicity, freshness and seasonality. The concept of cooking according to season is now so common throughout the world it’s almost become hackneyed, but back then 25-year-old chef René Redzepi and restaurateur Claus Meyer were about to change everything.
Within a year of Noma’s opening, Redzepi had gained the confidence to move away from what he had learned from other high-end restaurants, including El Bulli and The French Laundry. He wanted to show the world it was possible to create something exceptional without foie gras or caviar, and that Nordic ingredients like cod liver and milk crisp could be just as special. The restaurant housed in a waterfront warehouse in Copenhagen’s Christianshavn neighbourhood soon won critical acclaim, making its debut onto The World’s 50 Best Restaurants at No.33 in 2006 and claiming the No.1 spot four times from 2010 to 2014.
Noma’s name didn’t only arrive purely based on its style of cuisine. It also came to represent a pared-back Scandinavian style and décor that dispensed with white tablecloths, silver cutlery and overly formal service in lieu of wooden tables and unpretentious staff. Redzepi pioneered the practice of having chefs cross the dining room and serve the guests themselves. He believed that if a chef looked a diner in the eye, it would help them to understand the true point of dishes and the craft behind them, such as the now iconic Flower Pie.
After more than a decade of Noma, Redzepi felt that routine was killing his creativity, so he decided to close the restaurant for good – to “dare again to fail”. He shuttered it at the end of 2016 and soon relocated his entire team to Tulum, Mexico, for a pop-up that followed similar ones in Tokyo and Sydney. He finally unveiled a new Noma in February 2018 at a different location, now with its own farm, three completely distinct seasonal menus and a revised ownership structure. Redzepi honed his concept, using striking presentations to create reactions in the diner, including a tempura-style duck breast served alongside its blue-feathered duck wing, and thus capturing the imagination of the global foodie community all over again.
Due to its fundamental differences from the original Noma, with many calling the new restaurant ‘Noma 2.0’, it became newly eligible to be voted in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. In 2019, it debuted at No.2, then proceeded to once again top the list in 2021, further establishing Noma as one of the most influential restaurants of the last two decades – perhaps even on par with the only other venue to ever top the list five times: the legendary El Bulli.
Take a peek inside Noma: