Denmark's Noma founder gives Nordic twist to Singapore food

Mon Sep 2, 2013 8:28am EDT
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By Geert De Clercq

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Claus Meyer, co-founder of Denmark's famous Noma restaurant, became a star chef by using local and seasonal Nordic produce. His new Copenhagen restaurant Nam Nam turns that concept on its head with street food from equatorial Singapore.

Nam Nam samples the cuisines of the different ethnic communities that live in Singapore - Chinese, Malay and Indian - and its menu reads like a selection from a food court in the city-state: roti prata pancakes, laksa soup, beef rendang stew, char siu barbecued pork and chili crab.

Taking the classics of the Chinese-Malaysian "Peranakan" kitchen to a fine-dining level, everything is cooked and presented with that mix of simplicity and sophistication that made a name for Noma. The food is not greasy, like it can be in some Singapore food stalls, and the spices give flavor but do not burn the tongue.

Nam Nam uses local vegetables from Meyer's gardens and Danish free-range pork, but it imports all the key ingredients like sambal sauces, chilis and pandan leaves from Asia.

Meyer does not care if that seems to contradict the all-local, all-seasonal philosophy behind Noma, which has been voted world's best restaurant in the S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna list in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

"When people said that the Noma guy says you can't eat lemons or kiwis, because they are not Nordic, it hurts my heart," Meyer told Reuters.

He said Nam Nam is a statement about his love for ethnic food, but most of all it was his way of helping his Danish-Singaporean friends and business partners Michael and Tin Pang Larsen, who had to close their restaurant a few years ago.

"I have had some of the best moments in my culinary life at their table, and it would be unjust if this food were not accessible anymore," he said.   Continued...