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Noma’s Former Head of R&D Is Opening His Own Restaurant in Tokyo

Thomas Frebel’s Inua opens this June

An assortment of vegetables Inua/Facebook

Noma’s ever-growing sphere of influence now has a solid foothold in Japan: Thomas Frebel, who formerly led Noma’s research and development team, is opening his own restaurant in Tokyo, Bloomberg reports. Inua, named for “the spirit that exists in all living things” in Inuit mythology, opens June 29.

Frebel worked at Noma for 10 years before leaving to open Inua. “When I was here with Noma, I felt this strong connection with Japan,” Frebel said in a statement to Bloomberg. “I was drawn to the landscape, the culture and the ingredients. When we left, I felt a sense of not being finished with my time in Japan.”

The 50-seat restaurant will serve a $265, Nordic-influenced tasting menu during two nightly seatings, Japan Times reports. Frebel says Inua will be “quite different” from the five-week-long Noma Japan pop-up but notes that it shares the same philosophy, primarily using ingredients grown in Japan. According to Noma’s chief executive Peter Kreiner, who is on the board at Inua, the tasting menus might include dishes like bananas from Okinawa with roasted combu from Rishiri Island, or baked octopus from Hokkaido, Bloomberg reports.

Noma chef Rene Redzepi will help out with the restaurant, according to Bloomberg. Although he won’t have an ownership stake, he plans to visit Inua periodically. Bloomberg critic Richard Vines quoted the chef on Twitter: “Thomas [Frebel] is a soul brother to me and it was very hard to see him go. But if he ever was to leave Noma, it had to be for the chance to live and work in a country that we’ve both come to love very much through our travels.”

Frebel is just the latest Noma alum to strike out on his own. Former chef de partie Jose Luis Hinostroza stuck around Tulum after the Noma Mexico pop-up to open his first solo project, Natal, and former Noma pastry chef Rosio Sanchez is renowned in Copenhagen and beyond for her Mexican restaurants. Although Frebel is entering a crowded landscape of fine dining restaurants in Tokyo, Noma is big in Japan (the waiting list for the Tokyo pop-up was more than 60,000 people long), and the Noma name will no doubt carry some weight there.

Reservations for Inua are available now.

Noma Stars Throw Their Weight Behind New Tokyo Opening [Bloomberg]
Nordic cooking, Japanese bounty: Strong Noma current runs through new Tokyo restaurant [Japan Times]
Inua [Official]

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