Noma, which is short for nordatlantiskl mad, or North Atlantic cuisine, is routinely voted one of the best restaurants in the world—that's with good reason, and that's a good warning. If you don't make a reservation months ahead (slots tend to open about two months ahead; check its website), you won't be finding out why. Its stone-sided warehouse in Christianshavn, once storage for dead whales, is not the kind of place most people would wander past otherwise, and the food served within is not the kind of food most chefs prepare.
It starts by importing seafood a few times a week from Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and other places from which you've probably never tasted fish before. In a plain white setting, Chef Rene Redzepi takes his carefully sourced ingredients—if it's not Nordic, it doesn't exist—and concocts plated artworks within the constraints of minimal portion size. Dinners are rendered unto diners in a fusillade of weird ideas and umami flavors: about a dozen small-plate courses and as many as 9 amuse bouches, in parry after parry of novel gastronomy. A "leather" made from sea buckthorn. Pickled rose hips. Radish and asparagus sprouting from malt "soil". Reindeer moss. And famously, honest-to-goodness live ants that somehow taste of lemon and are meant to be scooped up and eaten with sour cream and rye bread. Every plate is a work of art, every flavor a surprise, and by the end, you feel like part of the magic, even if you've had to kill one or two ingredients yourself to get them down. This is a place people book plane tickets for once they snare a reservation.
At the end of 2016, Noma will close, only to be reborn sometime in 2017 as a farm-to-table restaurant—one that maintains its own farm on a patch of previously derelict city land.