Imagine a pop-up restaurant that holds 56 people, has two daily seatings and a reservation waiting list of 60,000. Now imagine being the last person on that list. That may be the very definition of optimism.
Noma, the Copenhagen eatery that industry magazine Restaurant named Best in the World four of the past five years, assembled such a list for its five-week pop-up in Tokyo. I wasn’t one of the 60,000. I was one of the lucky few who nailed a reservation.
Which is how, on January 9, I got to be the very first customer seated for the very first meal on the very first day.
Noma’s 37-year-old chef and founder, René Redzepi, is the high wizard of “New Nordic” cuisine. Using traditional Scandinavian techniques like smoking, pickling, curing and fermenting, he and his small, dedicated team transform native ingredients into something entirely new and, more important, delicious. “The idea is to force creativity by setting limitations,” Redzepi says.