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Noma Japan: what did you think about the food?…incredible

MAD Noma Dinner: January 28th, 2015 

Noma Japan: What did you think about the food? …incredible

Noma at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo: 9 January to 14 February 2015. 

Chef: René Redzepi

Mandarin Oriental Japan 

2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-8328, Japan

Worlds best 50 restaurants no 3 in the world 2015, no 1 2014

Michelin stars N/A

A once in a life time experience

A self confessed food devotee, you have to take life by the horns and what a ride. Predictable I know but has to be said, one of the most exceptional culinary experiences  of my lifetime. Every morsel savoured and the umami lingered, to take a bite of the next course was almost sacrilege, you knew it would be goodbye to a new friend forever. Incredible, culinary genius and miraculous all in one.

Noma Japan


The welcome note from the marvellous Mandarin Oriental Tokyo and home for Rene, his family and team of 65 culinary experts, for 3 months acknowledged a refined palate and the pilgrimage. It aptly described the visit as a celebratory edible outcome of of extensive research and development of his innovative philosophy of sourcing and actually foraging for, indigenous ingredients with Japanese culinary traditions, both ancient and cutting edge.

In his meticulous preparation he had explored Tokyo’s legendary Tsukiji fish market, met purveyors of esoteric Japanese ingredients from all across Japan.

Read this fascinating account from the Guardian of how Noma Japan came to be ‘We need 140 live shrimps now”: the inside story to Noma Japan”

Botanebi with flavours of Nagano forest

Yes the little black spots are ants, know for their citrus flavour. The botanebi prawns are the type used for such as they are soft enough to eat raw. The prawns were so fresh that he electrical impulses had not yet died down, one literally crawled off the plate. Tuny mollusc shells adorn rim.

Citrus and Long pepper

Japanese citrus: butane pummelo grapefruit , hassaku orange, mikan and iyokan both types of mandarin. Complimented with wild sesame oil and garnished with Japanese peppercorns, sansho leaves and sliced long peppers, traditional foods I have seen in the tiny family shops in Asakusa.

NJ 1

Shaved monkfish liver

Shaved when frozen, served on smoky finely sliced toast. My Japanese co diners were in raptures, despite a a complete lack of english I knew this was a special culinary moment for them as they clasped their hands with joy.

NJ 3

Koika Cuttlefish “soba”

Thin noodles of cuttlefish served the traditional way on a zaru strainer with pink rose petal and pine needle broth.


Standing in judgement

Noma Mass

Sea urchin and wild kiwi

My pick of the night, who would have thought? The wild kiwi cut through the rich creaminess of the sea urchin, the like of which I have never tasted.

Murasaki Uni are a smaller variety known for they sweetness and combine so cleverly with the wild kiwi.

This proves the theory that you need to represent food maybe up to 15 times before it is accepted, I clearly remember my very first taste of seas urchin in Sydney, I thought I had eaten sewerage, now can’t get enough of it and know how to savour it.

sea urchin

Tofu, just steamed with wild mushrooms

Shaved raw walnuts combined with made minutes before fresh creamy tofu, I am now a convert to tofu swell after enjoying the texture and flavour.


Scallop dried for two days beech nut and kelp

Probably the most confronting dish, frozen aerated ice. Swirled with roasted beech nuts and konbu infused oil. Flavours so intense that went poof in the front palate and were gone. The asian palates at the table were very comfortable with the intensity, it took me 2-3 mouthfuls to get it.


Hokkori pumpkin cherry wood oil and salted cherry blossoms

Served by the gorgeous chef with an excerpt from the poems of Paradise lost tattooed on his capable right arm.


Garlic flower

Black garlic with a texture and slight flavour of liquorice. A type of caramelised garlic that is results in a deeply rich balsamic colour and then air dried to form the pretty flowers.

Black garlic

Roots and starches with vinegar

Sneaking through the nutty creamy peanut milk and the array of Japanese root vegetables is a cured egg yolk.

IMG_0178 Roots

Wild duck and matsubusa berries

Breast sliced at the table, dipped in the tart sweetness of the berries. Later returned to the table to allow us to gnaw every morsel off the bone.

IMG_0182 duck

Yeast and turnip cooked in shitake

Paired beautifully with parsley oil.

IMG_0187 turnip


Refreshing Sake kasu ice-cream with shards of rice wafers on a bed of sorrel and salty crunchy dehydrated milk croutons.


Sweet potato simmered in raw sugar all day

Sizzle plate bubbling at the table,and served with the tangy wild kiwi fruit.


Wild cinnamon and fermented mushroom

Sticks are roots of wild cinnamon, to suck on but not eat, the mushrooms, fermented and covered with deep chocolate

The end and goodbye to an incredible experience.


Impossible to believe, difficult to believe : extraordinary, enough to make you cry tears of joy


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Noma Japan, February 2015, where every morsel was savoured and umami from each dish, lingered so intensely that to take a bite of the next offering was almost sacrilege.  You knew you would have to say goodbye to a new best friend to make way for the next. Exploring the street food and food halls of Tokyo, provided the matrix to begin to understand what Rene Redezpi’s genius set out to achieve. At the end, I asked “What did you think about the food?'  “incredible”  Massimo Bottura, Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy