For most Copenhageners, Noma – four times “The World’s Best Restaurant” according to Restaurant Magazine – has always been out of reach. Forget about getting a table any time in the next year or so. Not to mention paying the bill, or tempting my family to sit through eight mini-dishes including seaweed, milk skin, pine cones and fried ants.
But when Noma’s co-chef, Kristian Baumann, opened a family-friendly pop-up this January on Noma’s premises, to whet the palettes of diners prior to this May’s opening of his restaurant, 108, I booked a table for two and invited my eight-year-old son, Felix, to join me.
Sitting on reindeer skins at a sturdy communal wooden table, we felt like two ingénus about to be sworn in as Vikings. A blonde waitress explained the menu. Felix embarked on his culinary adventure with raw lamb and cured squid. I went for the braised oxtails with fresh pine and romaine stems in oyster sauce. But the most unexpected – and unexpectedly delicious – dish was our shared pudding. “Sweet sweet potatoes” was just that: a dessert of egg cream whipped with caramelised and baked sweet potatoes, topped with a fine flake of baked potato skin and sprinkled with Asian yuzu fruit sorbet that felt like new-fallen snowflakes on our tongues.
Faithful to Noma’s philosophy of using seasonal ingredients where possible, the dessert was made from local potatoes, to which Baumann had added his Asian twist, in the shape of the citrusy yuzu. Felix described the experience of eating it as “constantly having a new fresh, sour and sweet taste in my mouth”. To end the night, a waiter suggested we joined him in 108’s after-dinner back room, for a game of table football.