Noma: The Danish deity

As Noma reclaims its spot at the top of the World's 50 Best Restaurants poll, William Drew, Restaurant Magazine's editor, explains the secret to René Redzepi's culinary success.

By William Drew
Published 24 Jul 2014, 11:10 BST, Updated 1 Jul 2021, 11:59 BST

The world's gastronomic cognoscenti gathered in April to witness Copenhagen restaurant Noma retake the number one spot in The World's 50 Best Restaurants ranking, usurping last year's champion and hot favourite El Celler de Can Roca of Girona, Spain.

In topping the prestigious industry poll — organised by the UK's Restaurant Magazine and sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna — the groundbreaking Danish dockside destination cemented its position as the most influential restaurant of its generation.

If El Bulli, the now-closed Catalan creation of molecular genius Ferran Adrià, taught the world that food didn't have to taste of what it appeared to be, then René Redzepi's Noma offers an entirely different proposition by seeking to bring diners closer to nature. A meal at the stripped-back 45-seat restaurant kicks off with an inimitable series of 'snacks': 10 servings including the likes of sea urchin toast, and caramalised milk and cod liver. A further 10 or so hard-hitting, sometimes visceral courses, will follow including a dish of beef tartar and ants, no less. To finish there's a stunning array of 'treats' that will not leave diners disappointed.

Yes, the famed foraging is an essential part of the sourcing process, and the long Nordic tradition of fermentation is also taken to new levels, but it's another 'f' that is at the fore: flavour. The food here slaps you in the chops, guaranteeing guests an unforgettable and exhilarating experience.

Lunch and dinner reservations are available three months in advance, but check the restaurant's website to be sure of the precise day and time the online booking system opens; every minute is crucial in the monthly battle for tables. Significantly, the entire restaurant is relocating to Tokyo for two months in early 2015, taking its philosophy but none of its Nordic ingredients with it. Bookings will be taken from this summer.

If you have no luck landing that ticket to Noma, check the other 49 on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list. They may not all have the global clout of the deified Danish destination, but they can all knock up a more-than-decent dinner.

Published in the Jul/Aug 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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