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Noma’s René Redzepi seasons his starter with live ants

Critically acclaimed Noma chef René Redzepi has reinvented a live prawn starter by adding wriggling ants to the mix. Would you try it?

A still-twitching, shelled prawn seasoned with live ants is chef René Redzepi’s newest interpretation of his revisited world-class Nordic cuisine. 

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Noma, named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine in 2014, has once again pushed the boundaries of ground-breaking food exploration, serving live ants at a three-hour, 15-course tasting menu. 

This isn’t the first time ants have been served on one of Noma’s signature dishes: the 2012 pop-up restaurant in London featured live ants accompanied by a dollop of crème fraiche on a bed of lettuce.

Noma, which is best known for its innovative approach to Nordic and Scandinavian cuisine, is now on a two-month relocation period on the 37th floor of Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

René Redzepi, Noma’s head chef, has altered his signature Nordic food to appease the taste buds of Japanese restaurant-goers: the citrus seasoning in the popular sushi dish, botan ebi, was substituted with live ants. The ants give the shrimp a sour kick, described in Redzepi’s menu as a ‘flavour of the Nagano forest’, a mountainous region in Japan.

Robbie Swinnerton, a food writer for the Japan Times, described the menu as  ‘unlike anything anyone has ever seen before in Japan’. According to him, the black ants were ‘little pinpricks of sharp acidity acting as a perfect accent for the sweet, pink flesh’.

While most wouldn’t look at live ants as a seasoning, this prospect certainly hasn’t discouraged people from choosing to dine at Noma – this world-famous restaurant currently has a waiting list of 60,000 people.

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Written by Annalisa D’Alessio