Top chef serves shrimp with ants

Top chef serves shrimp with ants

The three-hour, 15-course tasting menu costs 149,500 yen (S$1,700).

But the highlight of the menu was the show stopping opening course: Jumbo shrimp, so recently killed that they were still twitching, served with about a dozen tiny black ants for seasoning.

The man behind the special meal is Mr Rene Redzepi, the celebrated chef and owner behind restaurant Noma, one of the world's top restaurants.

The tasting was at Noma Tokyo, perched on the 37th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel with views of Mount Fuji in the distance, The Guardian reported.

It was inspired by the same imaginative use of ingredients that have made Mr Redzepi's restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, arguably the best restaurant in the world.


The presence of half a dozen ants clinging to the wobbling flesh of each prawn is more than just a visual gimmick.

With their natural reserves of formic acid, the ants give the botan ebi - or botan prawn - a sour kick, described by Mr Redzepi as "flavours of the Nagano forest", a reference to a mountainous region in northern Japan.

Noma has used ants in its dishes before. They have been served at its Copenhagen restaurant with beef tartar, among other dishes.

Writing in the Japan Times, food writer Robbie Swinnerton described the tasting menu as "unlike anything anyone has ever served before in Japan".

The black ants, he wrote, produce "little pinpricks of sharp acidity acting as a perfect accent for the sweet, pink flesh".

In his review for Bloomberg, another food critic, Mr Tejal Rao, recalled being confronted by a "pristine shrimp…so recently dead that its brain has yet to telegraph this information to the rest of its body. For now it's all twitching muscle and whirring antennae".

After regaining his composure, the critic described the sensation of biting into the prawn as "shockingly good".

"It goes from terrifying to beautiful, like the ocean after a storm," he wrote.

This article was first published on Jan 30, 2015.
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