DAY OFF IN KYOTO: 5 THINGS WITH René Redzepi
René Redzepi is among the world’s foremost culinary talents owed to his transformative take on Nordic cuisine at Copenhagen’s noma. He is also walking the Philosopher’s Path.
Take that in the literal sense — the stone walkway tracing Kyoto’s Lake Biwa Canal, famously paced by Nishida Kitaro, René deems “a must” during sakura season — and the figurative one. For the fourth time, René and the noma team are moving their Copenhagen culinary mecca around the globe, settling in for 10 weeks at our Kyoto home.
What does it mean to be noma in another city? Another country, at that. Is it a methodology? A mindset? A knife? At Noma Kyoto, it’s all the above and more. The famed translators of Nordic terroir have long held Japan in their hearts and its outsize influence in their kitchen. Over the past two years, the team has prepared: traveling, aforementioned philosophizing, R&Ding and working alongside local foragers, farmers, ceramicists, hunters and fishmongers to create seasonal culinary poetry. Which they served for the first time this week.
In advance of the residency’s inaugural day on March 15, we caught up with René to chat 5 points of inspiration in Kyoto — which, if you’ve been you’ll know, the city’s awash with.
Read on for where you’ll find René in Kyoto when he’s not in the kitchen.
Kyoto is an incredible city, in a valley surrounded by mountains. As a Copenhagener, we’re surrounded by water and have no mountains, so to me that was the first thing I noticed when arriving here. I thought to myself, “I’m going to conquer every single one of them,” and that has been my number one pastime while we have been here. Whenever I have a moment off, I’m somewhere hiking in the mountains, and it is incredible. So, hiking in Kyoto is a special thing!
There are all varieties ranging from very classic three Michelin stars like Kikunoi, to Japanese modern like Ogawa, or farm-to-table, the fantastic restaurant Monk! Everything in between exists as well; it is something quite unique to this city.
Another thing I also love about Kyoto is that it is a walkable city. You can spend a day here walking east to west, north to south, visiting temples in between, going into small artisanal wood makers, tatami makers, tofu makers — you can find it all here in Kyoto and I love the fact that you can walk or bike to any place. Spending a couple of days and having this whole array of craftspeople you want to visit, from yuba tofu makers to woodshops and galleries, is just an incredible thing to do.
Kyoto flea markets – they are so good! Come early, otherwise you will be shocked by the amount of people, but the flea markets are special, and they are in abundance all year long, almost every weekend. They are typically around a temple location, which make them even more special, surrounded by street food. You can easily spend most of your day here.
LOCALS + SEASONS
The people – they are just so friendly here! Kyoto locals are quite outgoing, and they are used to tourism. And lastly the wonderful seasons! Of course, if you are coming in the peak season, the Sakura blossoming, a walk down the Philosopher’s Path is a must. If you come in the fall season, when the leaves are changing colors, hiking in the hills and temple hopping is also a must!
*Lead image of René Redzepi photo credit Amy Tang
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