February 17, 2015 / 9:29 AM / 3 years ago

World Chefs: Tokyo sojourn ends for Rene Redzepi and Danish Noma

Rene Redzepi, the head chef of Noma in Copenhagen, poses for pictures after an interview with Reuters at Noma at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

TOKYO (Reuters) - The world’s best restaurant moved to the world’s gourmet capital for five weeks and 2,800 diners in Tokyo made good use of it.

Rene Redzepi, chef and co-owner of the Danish eatery Noma, temporarily moved the Michelin-starred restaurant and its staff to the 37th floor of a five-star hotel in Japan’s capital.

The Noma at Mandarin Oriental closed on Valentine’s Day after serving 15-course meals twice a day at a 40,200 yen ($340) price tag, with 62,000 unlucky diners still on the waiting list.

Redzepi’s Copenhagen establishment, which reigns atop the world’s best restaurant rankings, seems a perfect fit for Tokyo, the Michelin guide’s gourmet capital for eight straight years.

But Redzepi, 37, told Reuters he has no plans to move to Japan, despite adapting to local cuisine and showcasing a line-up of signature dishes such as fresh prawns served with ants.

Q: How was it to cook and serve food for Japanese customers?

A: It’s easier because people are more adventurous here, because they are used to eating so many foodstuffs so people have bigger dedication and they are more curious.

Rene Redzepi, the head chef of Noma in Copenhagen, poses for pictures behind the logo of Noma after an interview with Reuters at Noma at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Q: Was Noma Mandarin Oriental profitable?

A: We don’t really know yet. We will find out when we pay all the last bills. But it’s very tough. I mean there are so many factors we didn’t know. We didn’t realize the plates (sourced locally from artisans) would cost more than flying 77 people here.

Rene Redzepi, the head chef of Noma in Copenhagen, talks during an interview with Reuters at Noma at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

When we agreed on the price for the menu, we didn’t know how much ingredients would cost. Then we pay the rent here and we pay the rent at home. Two rents for only one income. Since we signed the deal the yen dropped, but all of our paychecks are in Danish krone.

Q: But you chose to spend a lot of money on the project.

A: We could have done it much easier. We could have just kept the restaurant as it was, use the plates from the hotel, taken ingredients from back home. There are a lot of ways to do it very simple. And I think it would have been still full, but then we wouldn’t have learnt.

Q: Would you consider opening permanently here in Tokyo?

A: No. I don’t think I can add anything to the city. There is so much good stuff here, and I am also happy at home. We didn’t do this to look for a business opportunity.

Editing by Tony Tharakan

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