While abroad in Copenhagen, I had the privilege of visiting NOMA, a three-Michelin-star new Scandinavian cuisine restaurant that was haled as “the best restaurant in the world” in 2021. The experience is, as of yet, unparalleled, and gave me some key insight into what I value in a dining experience.
Taking a meal at NOMA was a pricey and lengthy affair, costing around $435 for the meal alone—which consisted of 15 courses— and lasting nearly four hours. The menu is seasonal, and I found myself in attendance when the vegetarian menu was in rotation. One could opt for a myriad of beverage pairings ranging from wine and beer to juice. I have attached photos of the 15 courses and a legend listing them (in order).
Each dish was thoughtfully put together and expertly crafted. Far and away my favorite was the grilled padrón pepper, which was stuffed with a vibrant mix of raspberry, strawberry, and various seeds roasted in mushroom garum. From a food perspective, though, even this course was only okay. As I moved through the courses, it gradually became evident that I had paid for the experience and presentation rather than the food itself.
There are those who eat for enjoyment, and there are those who eat for entertainment. NOMA is a place for the latter, and it showed me that I belong in the former camp. The culinary craftsmanship was truly fascinating, and the catalogue of flavor profiles was extensive. Any who find themselves in attendance will no doubt be entertained. It did, however, feel as though many of the courses were made different for the sole sake of being different. NOMA serves spectacles that happen to be food, not the other way around. It took going to NOMA for me to find out that the character of food is most valuable to me, not its uniqueness or how it is presented. It was in this way that, while the dining experience was not transformative, it was enlightening. I truly value my experience at NOMA but, if I ever have the opportunity again, I’d rather use my $435 to get a meal and not an edible show. All told, I can honestly say that I have been to the best restaurant in the world and, still, my favorite dining experience I had in Copenhagen was at Tommi’s Burger Joint.