Iluka is a fine seafood restaurant helmed by Noma alumni Beau Clugston, who has quickly been titled “King of Sea Urchin” by local media.
Whilst Denmark is surrounded by the sea, you’d be surprised that seafood is not a culinary focus in the country. If you are lucky, you get some good salmon, herring or cod from your local fish truck. That’s it. The lack of cooking tradition and mainstream interests, as reflected in the lack of fresh, easily available seafresh supplies, may explain why there are almost no famous seafood restaurants around town. Iluka nicely fill in the gap.
We tried Iluka on 2 occasions within 1 month. Both times, we went for the tasting menu (around 600kr for 4-5 dishes) featuring a couple of dishes selected by the chef, based on seasonality and at times, customers’ dietary requirement.
Due to Clugston’s fame for his sea urchin, we felt obliged to order the faroese sea urchin & grilled bread (120DKK). It is, like the nordics – crisp and calm. Compared to the Japanese ones, it is not as fatty and sweet. Nonetheless it was an interesting Danish experience, especially for my friends visiting the city.
We were utterly surprised by the mussel soup with peas and milk curd. Without any salt, the soup is a delicate reduction of the mussels. So fresh and naturally sweet whilst smoothly balanced with the silky milk curd.
Next up – the minced mackerel is fatty and nicely complemented by the lemon juice’s acidity. Appetite level went more up.
As the main came, we were equally stunned by the sumptuous, juicy whole sea-beam, topped with an expansive layer of kale and soft herbs. As it entered, the steamy fragrance of herbs made us crave for more and the tender bites did not disappoint. We were so joyfully full at the end.
It was definitely the best dining experience I had this year.
Therefore, rather quickly, I booked another dinner in Iluka – as I simply couldn’t wait to try again. However, things were on a rather salty for almost all dishes this time. In fact, after just 1 sip, I could no longer take the same mussel soup I once enjoyed so much. Moreover, there seemed to be some problem with the ventilation. So on that particular evening, the dining room was rather smoky. It was truly a shame – if not for its inconsistency, Iluka could readily be our top restaurants and I would even imagine it winning Michelin stars.
Address: Peder Skrams Gade 15, 1054 Copenhagen, Denmark
Telephone: 30 30 95 89
Menu is available here.