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World's best restaurant heading to Tokyo

By Tracy You, for CNN
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Noma head chef and co-owner Rene Redzepi (third from left) celebrates with restaurant staff after winning first place at the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2014.
Noma head chef and co-owner Rene Redzepi (third from left) celebrates with restaurant staff after winning first place at the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2014.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Noma, winner of the 2014 "world's best restaurant" title, has announced a pop-up venture in Tokyo
  • Head chef and co-owner Rene Redzepi says the reason is simple: "We really want to go to Japan."
  • It's not clear what will become of the original venue when the current team are gone

(CNN) -- Just when we were getting used to the idea of restaurants as travel destinations, the restaurants themselves go traveling.

First it was Fat Duck, the Michelin star-studded rural English venue created by scientific chef Heston Blumenthal, that announced it was upping sticks and heading to Melbourne for six months.

Now, fresh from scooping top honors at this year's San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards, Denmark's Noma is preparing to tantalize the unsuspecting diners of Tokyo with its visceral version of fine dining.

Both restaurants are planning to hit the road in 2015 -- taking their chefs, kitchen staff and cookery concepts with them.

"I have planned (the move) for two years," Noma's head chef and co-owner Rene Redzepi said after his Copenhagen venue was named top of the 2014 World's 50 Best Restaurants this week in London.

So, come the beginning of 2015, diners already desperate to grab one of Noma's tables could face further frustration as the whole venue appears set to pack its famous foraging bags and head east.

MORE: No chance at Noma? Here are 6 more great Copenhagen restaurants

'Awestruck' by Japanese food culture

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"Guys, we are not losers!" said ever-gregarious Noma co-owner Rene Redzepi to his staff from the stage upon accepting the 2014 world's best restaurant award.

Despite the prospect of using ingredients they've never cooked with before, such as tofu and sudachi, Redzepi says there are other worries on the horizon -- such as Japanese work permits.

"At the moment the most difficult thing is to make sure that my three people from Guatemala, two people from Mexico City and two people from Gambia, who are dishwashers, will get work visas for three months," said Redzepi.

Announcing the move on his website a couple of months ago, the 36-year-old chef said his palate rather than his profit motive were to blame.

"We really want to go," he said, adding that he was "awestruck by the richness of Japanese food culture" during a trip to Japan five years ago hosted by Murata, a chef from Kyoto's Kikunoi restaurant.

MORE: Japanese food by region -- which is best?

Don't expect a sudden switch to sushi in the Noma kitchen that gave us sea urchin toast, beef tartar with ants and other modern Nordic specialties.

"I have a plan with Noma Tokyo," said Redzepi. "I'm not going to turn it into a Japanese restaurant, but I have a plan. In the next five years, Japan is very important in my big plan of restaurant Noma."

That said, the chef has in the past revealed to CNN that, despite his strict insistence on locally sourced produce, in his home larder lurks miso paste, sesame seeds and aged seaweed from Japan's Hokkaido island.

It's not clear where in Tokyo Noma's pop-up restaurant will appear, nor is it clear what will become of the original venue when the current team are gone.

Redzepi is keeping everyone waiting another few weeks before dishing up the full details.

In the meantime, perhaps he should consider changing the name to Nomad.

MORE: Obama dreams of Jiro's sushi in Tokyo

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