Wild, weird and wonderful: Food editor Tan Hsueh Yun's verdict on Noma

If you secure a reservation, get invited or somehow land an opportunity to dine at Noma, go.

Go not because you want to tick another item off the bucket list or score bragging rights. Go because you want to experience something wild, weird and wonderful.

It is hard to get a table at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant, owned by chef-restaurateur Claus Meyer, 49, and chef Rene Redzepi, 35.

Once you do, head chef Dan Giusti, a 29-year-old American, and his team pull out all the stops so you never forget the meal.

The first of many snacks in a multi-course, 1,500 kroner (S$335) dinner is Nordic Coconut, which is really a pink potato with a hole in the centre and a dill stem for a straw. I sip a warm, strangely delicious liquid made with fermented split peas, coriander, lemon verbena and white currants. A Nordic interpretation of a pina colada?

Later, I drag pretty, tender elm leaves across a plate of roasted yeast and eat fragile puffs of reindeer moss scented with cep mushrooms.

"You're going to be eating ants," a friend predicts.

Yes, pulverised wood ants give a citrusy tang to a blob of fresh milk curd covered with blueberry preserves.

I take apart crayfish and dip them in a sauce made with the gooey stuff excavated from the head. It takes me immediately to Or Tor Kor market in Bangkok, where bags of boiled river prawns come with a funky and addictive sauce, also made from crustacean head goo.

The chefs take turns to present the dishes. One of them guides the table through The Duck And The Egg, in which duck eggs are fried in hay oil and covered with herbs before we dig in.

A meaty beef shortrib aged for three weeks, cooked sous vide for 36 hours at 60 deg C and covered with dried lingonberries and chopped nasturtium stems, resembles a mossy log on the forest floor. I look at it and experience the kind of wonder I had throughout dinner at the now-defunct elBulli in Spain.

Some places mine the weird for theatrics.

Noma, however, stays true to its name, which comes from "Nordisk mad" or Nordic food.

With every course, I am reminded of Scandinavian heritage in cutting-edge dishes, and the rich pickings from the region's forests and seas, used in ways no one has thought of.

It is some kind of wonderful.

This review was first published in Sunday Lifestyle on June 16, 2013.

This article was published on April 29 in The Straits Times.

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