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Inside Noma Japan: Clam Tarts, Ants, and a Spectacular View

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No farm-raised turtles in sight.

Noma Japan
Noma Japan
Mandarin Oriental/Facebook

Chef/foraging enthusiast René Redzepi's hotly anticipated Noma Tokyo pop-up is finally under way at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. The chef told Saveur that he's "dreamt of something like this for years." He adds,"Much has been written about the range and beauty and complexity of Japanese cuisine. But there's still so much for all of us, cooks and eaters, to learn from its examples. That's why we're in Japan now."

Over the past few months, there has been much speculation about what the menu would look like, especially because Redzepi is known for using obscure ingredients in avant-garde ways.The chef hinted to the Wall Street Journal in November that the menu would be kept "primarily vegetarian" but he was thinking of serving horse meat, venison tongue, and possibly even farm-raised turtle. Redzepi also revealed that the dishes would make use of atypical but local ingredients like larvae from lethal hornets, Japanese ants, and wild kiwis.

Ramen maestro Ivan Orkin attended the first night of the pop-up — last night — and Instagrammed his entire meal. Some of the aforementioned ingredients — namely the ants — made it on to the menu, alongside a labor intensive clam tart ("45 clams per tart, 13 people shucking for 8 hours"), chocolate-dipped mushrooms, rice ice cream, and more. Below, a look at Noma Japan and its menu (so far):

Jan 6, This is it!! Let me introduce you to the Team of #nomajapan #nomatokyo We had our group picture taken today. Everyone is excited about this project, every dish is delicious and the products are well sourced. Wild baby kiwis from the forest of Nagano is insanely delicious, salted cherry blossom are delicious as well. I could talk about it for days, so I'll stop here ;p find me if you can. I'm so lucky and blessed to be a part of this team, they are truly the #1 team in the world #dinnerbykear #nomajapan #nomatokyo #creativity #inspiration #chef #cheflife #la #lafoodie #mandarinorientaltokyo #Tokyo #food #foodie #forage #foodporn #finedining #美味しい #マンダリンオリエンタル #ノーマ #humble #love

A photo posted by Chef Jacob Kear (@dinnerbykear) on

View from the kitchen #nomajapan

A photo posted by Rene Redzepi (@reneredzepinoma) on

And so it begins! Fuji in the background is an excellent omen!

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

First course just killed and still moving super fresh acidic noes from the ants.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"First course just killed and still moving super fresh acidic notes from the ants."

"Under ripe strawberries how to convince the best strawberry farmer to harvest perfectly under ripe strawberries! Awesome!"

Assorted citrus, Okinawa chili peppers.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Assorted citrus, Okinawa chili peppers."

Shaved ankimo toast.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Shaved ankimo toast."

Cuttlefish "noodles" wild rose petal broth.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Cuttlefish 'noodles' wild rose petal broth."

Scallops. Can't explain, just delicious.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Scallops. Can't explain, just delicious."

Clam tart. 45 clams per tart, 13 people shucking for 8 hours. Worth it!

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Clam tart. 45 clams per tart, 13 people shucking for 8 hours. Worth it!"

Tofu, shaved walnuts. Best tofu dish, ever?!

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Tofu, shaved walnuts. Best tofu dish, ever?!"

Squash and dried salted ume. Sublime.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Squash and dried salted ume. Sublime."

Fermented black garlic leather. Grown up candy.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Fermented black garlic leather. Grown up candy."

Things from under the ground.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Things from under the ground."

Wild duck.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Wild duck."

RoastedTurnip.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"RoastedTurnip."

How to incorporate rice into the meal? Dessert, rice ice cream and crisps.

A photo posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"How to incorporate rice into the meal? Dessert, rice ice cream and crisps."

Sweet potato slow cooked in raw sugar comes molten to the table. Wild kiwi dipping sauce.

A video posted by Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) on

"Sweet potato slow cooked in raw sugar comes molten to the table. Wild kiwi dipping sauce."

"Finale: cepes dipped in chocolate cinnamon dipped in sugar probably didn't describe everything correctly, great meal fabulous experience and only first day! Hats off."

Mandarin Oriental/Facebook

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