Everything we know about Noma’s 10-week stint in Japan

Why is one of the world’s most successful restaurants packing up and moving?

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When I met chef René Redzepi in 2019, I knew he wasn’t a settler. He had every trait of a wanderer. In fact, the very name of his restaurant is one letter short of being “nomad”, although Noma is an abbreviation of the two Danish words "nordisk" (Nordic) and "mad" (food). But that’s not the point.

In October this year, Redzepi declared (on Instagram) that he’s packing up the 2.0 version of Noma’s Copenhagen-based restaurant, which won the top title at World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in 2021. This is not the first time Redzepi has done something like this. 

It will be the fourth full-scale pop-up by Noma, with their Tokyo residency being the first one in 2015. A year later, Redzepi took his team to Sydney, Australia for a 10-week stint and in 2017, to Tulum in Mexico. I said he is a wanderer. 

His latest one is in Japan, a country he traveled to just before the pandemic hit. When his trip that he took along with his wife Nadine and three daughters—Arwen, Genta, and Ro was cut short due to Covid-19, it was obvious chef Redzepi had unfinished business here. 

Here are all the details of what’s happening next for them: 

1) The restaurant will be popping-up at Ace Hotel in Kyoto. Owned by Los Angeles and New York-based hospitality group Ace Hotel. Their Kyoto outpost is located in the heart of the city housed within a converted 1920s building. With their east meets west philosophy, the collaboration with Noma seems apt.

2) You can call this Noma’s latest “global residency”, which will come roughly a year later from the five-night pop-up that the restaurant did in New York’s Brooklyn in May this year. 

3) The pop-up opens to the public in the spring of 2023 and will run for 10 weeks, from March 15. Noma will be taking over the main restaurant at Ace Hotel and will be offering one lunch and one dinner service in a communal setting four days per week—from Wednesday through Saturday.

4) This is not their first time in Japan though. They first came to the country in 2015 for their maiden residency where they popped up in Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. The menu, in line with Redzepi’s philosophy, had blended local Japanese ingredients with his Nordic cooking style: think Japanese ants, fermented black garlic leather, and dried salted ume (Japanese sour salted plums). 

5) Noma Japan’s menu isn’t out or declared yet, but “The team is preparing something poetic, working alongside local foragers, farmers, ceramicists, hunters and fishmongers,” Ace Hotel claimed via an Instagram post.

6) Expect lots of ferments, true to Redzepi’s Nordic cooking style. For this stint, the restaurant has particularly studied and researched the practice of kaiseki, which is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. “Our menu will reflect the sakura season in Kyoto, yet, we will not be a Japanese restaurant,” it says on their website.
7) Interestingly, reservations will be released only on November 7 at 1 PM CET via the restaurant’s newsletter. So, if you want to bag one of the coveted spots, it’s best to subscribe to their newsletter now. 

8) Diners who book a room at the Kyoto-based hotel for two nights, will also get a reservation for two to Noma Kyoto. And each meal will roughly cost ₹63,000. 

9) Lastly, with this bold step, to pack up a successful story and set base at a residency abroad, chef Redzepi continues to be “the most relevant chef of our times”, something I said in my interview in the summer of 2019. 

Lead image: René Redzepi/Instagram