It's been a few years since I wrote about Noma again, and I've really thought it through. The new Noma 2.0 cookbook contains dishes spanning two seasons, evoking memories of the past. As it has for years, the restaurant explores the possibilities of a full range of ingredients, presenting the best of them conveyed through an unimaginably elaborate process that is both wild and traditional, unpretentious but time-consuming. In the spirit of Noma 2.0, the Kyoto pop-up pays true homage to the city’s profound history and diverse culture, with local approach in ingredient selection, preparation and presentation.
Refer has all the qualities of a top-notch restaurant. With competence and confidence, Chef has insisted on doing a trifold menu that encompasses a vast range of ingredients, but each dish is dealt with utmost care and exquisite technique. The ability to combine perceptions, cooking skills and the art of plating with subtlety and elegance requires meticulous craftsmanship.
Having studied Politics of developing countries at Keio University - one of the top private universities in Japan - Chef Namae came to the culinary world with critical thinking and a philosophical mind. Apart from playing rock music and wanting to become a journalist, he worked in Hokkaido, South France and The Fat Duck in the UK before finally opening his own restaurant which was destined to be special.
London's many foreign hospitality workers had to leave the UK as the restaurant industry faced intermittent shut-down policy during the initial phase of the pandemic. What's more, many were unable to return to the UK due to visa issues caused by Brexit. As a result, restaurants are generally experiencing a shortage of staff.
It's been over three years since I last visited Reale, a celebrated restaurant situated in the remote town of Castel di Sangro nestled in the mountains of Abruzzo in central Italy. It is not a tourist town and takes about 1.5 hours driving from Naples. It is interesting that a world-famous three-starred Michelin restaurant is housed in a time-honoured 16th century monastery.