Is KOKS the best restaurant in the world?

I am told KOKS is a Faroese word for “adding something excellent,” though there are varying accounts of the translation.  In any case, in terms of originality, purity of concept and vision, execution, service, and also view — taken as an integrated whole — I can’t think of any restaurant experience that comes close to this one.  Noma in Copenhagen is a pale memory in contrast, as are the Michelin three-stars in San Sebastian.  KOKS is still unspoilt and on the way up, and the guiding star is the very young and extremely personable Poul Andrias Ziska.

It has been written up in the New York Times and Guardian for its innovative take on Faroese cuisine, though both articles are now out of date.   The dining room seats only 20, and Ziska is also the pastry chef, with no loss of quality.  You’ll find photos and food descriptions on their Facebook page.  Here is the shaved horsemussel on dried cod skin:


Here is one recent review:

Its cuisine style is earthy and refined, ancient and modern. Instead of the new, it emphasizes the old (drying, fermenting, pickling, curing and smoking) with a larger goal of returning balance to earth itself. At KOKS, the cuisine is about seasonality, seriously engaging with agriculture and history and of making age-old food delightful to modern palates…

Poul continues to simply enjoy the uniqueness and richness of the Faroe Islands. Fan of ræst, (local preservation method) he supports and defends this technique that captures and boosts flavour.

I can agree with this assessment:

And finally (and I have to say the best dessert I’ve ever had), dulse seaweed served with chocolate crumble, fermented blueberries and dulse mousse. Sweet, a bit tangy, a bit crunchy, silky-smooth on the mouth and simple heavenly. My marathon reward ended on a very special note.

I am willing to go out on a limb here: it is probably the best restaurant in the world right now.  It alone justifies a trip to the Faroe Islands.

Addendum: Ethika, also in the Faroes, has some of the best sashimi I’ve eaten, recommended as well.


It definitely sounds like a good candidate for most elitist restaurant in the world.

Perhaps by some infanticimal amount, on a metric that is arbitrarily defined.

Such as the number of rocks the food is served on.

Ah, that's the rub, isn't it?

When you are an elitist who would never, ever think of living anywhere near something like an actual Afghan refugee community.... you can still post endlessly about how great obscure Afghani food is, and call yourself enlightened and internationally cosmopolitan.

So I'm thinking of starting a restaurant to cash in on the elitism. I'll market to the niche intersect of people who want fresh natural, traditional food ala the neolithic diet and those high energy, high earning individuals who tend to be fitness buffs. You show up in your gym/running attire and we give you a spear and flint knife, then we turn you loose on a 16 mile trek to endurance hunt a solitary grass fed non-gmo non-horned four legged herba-critter released nearby. I think 200k acres near Jackson Hole ought to do it.

Earth balance, elitist, exclusive, traditional plus you get your weekend half marathon out of the way in the process. No foodie will have you beat.

Too much work, but here's an idea that might actually fly. You have a large backyard garden meticulously cultivated with exotic (but edible) plants and animals, such as snails and mushrooms of various sorts, shellfish in the ponds, and fresh greens like watercress and arugula. Then you give guests an exotically but vaguely bowl-shaped piece of pottery and let them forage themselves a meal. In the middle you have a sculpture full of little bowls of condiments such as melted butter and various dips and dressings, with a central cauldron of boiling water to cook the shellfish.

I like this.

It's a version of going apple-picking for the truly hip foodies.

How can this be the best restaurant in the world, if it is not located in a gas station near Tyler's house?

Faroe Islands needs more immigration and diversity, to bring that good food. With a population of 50,000, we can triple GDP with 50,000 Syrian refugees and 50,000 Central Americans.

Well, there are no beautiful women in it, which is a positive indicator of quality. The beautiful native born women have left the islands and the imported Asian ones stay home and tend to the house, like good mail order brides should.

Indeed. What's more, there is no indication that it is only open Thursdays between 2 and 4:30 PM.

It's okay to live vicariously through Tyler Cowen - especially since he values what I value, great food. Mild winters and cool summers and great food, what's not to like about the Faroe Islands. There really is a difference between a very good restaurant and an outstanding restaurant. And the difference can be large. In many ways, cuisine is like art. And like the artist, the chef can be as concerned with the visual and texture as with taste. Having said that, I'm also aware of mood and setting. The best wine I ever drank was a fine Bordeaux from Chateau Lynch-Bages, but what made it memorable was the setting, a Chateau in Provence with vineyards and almond orchards as far as you could see. My father, long since deceased, owned restaurants and was a chef, and though he never experienced the restaurants I have esperienced (and I haven't experienced the restaurants Cowen has experienced), he was ever in search of fine cuisine. I have vivid memories of traveling with my father when I was a child, and whenever we ate at a restaurant that impressed him he would always end up in the kitchen.

And some of us have no need to engage in gluttony. I only travel for weddings or family events, otherwise I stay at home.

Which is fine for an old bachelor, most of us here have families to raise and show the world to.

Nice post, Rayward. The best wine I ever drank was a DuCru Beaucaillou, I know it was good because some of the friends I shared it with had spent decades in poverty (The Depression, the WWII ration-card years, the ridiculously over-salted canned goods years of the 50s) and had tears in their eyes at how good it smelled just after being uncorked (in the modest kitchen of that Virginia Beach house that in any given year was only really clean for those few weeks or so that followed the annual power-washing of the mold off the sidings). Jamaican Mountain coffee has the same effect: as do some varieties of cannabis, I am told ( I am no fan of Weed - it is not a traditionally Christian drug, and it wreaks havoc on the minds of the vulnerable, but I am a fair minded person, and I want, at a minimum, de facto legalization and I also want, at a minimum, millions of letters of apology to those poor decent people who were brutalized by lazy prosecutors again and again in the War Against Weed that so many of my fellow conservatives, to their shame, played along with for so many years).

One of the peripheral issues from recent years I have wondered about is whether Aaron Swartz was, as he believed, actually a "super-taster" (roughly, someone who understands 50K varieties of wine and food as easily as a talented Latin scholar understands, one by one, any given 50K "etyma latina" and their variations). The Ducru Beaucaillou was almost a decade old and 75 bucks when I bought it in the late 90s, and I am not a super-taster but I know that the Ducru crowd didn't cheat me out of a penny. Whether you admire Aaron Swartz - who, I feel certain, could have told me if I am wrong about how good that wine was - or not, it is almost unthinkable that they threatened him with 50 or so years of prison for "stealing" copyrighted "academic" strings of words!!! Is there a single reasonable assistant professor in this large country who has contributed something valuable to JSTOR and who thinks such theft was worth even a night in jail?

Why bother maybe in 20 years some billionaire will endow a building at MIT and name it after Swartz (1986-2013) what difference will that make? The damage is done. There are middle-aged people alive today who are still sort of intending to call up and get together with friends they haven't seen since before 1986. Good for them. nunca dejes de mirarte como Dios te mira ("google image" that - here in 2016 - to see why I didn't write it in English). God likes short sentences He likes long sentences too. 50 years in jail threatened for stealing sentences written by academics! The mind boggles.

Poseidon Adventure was a cool movie.

" Here, here. To love. To love. To love, Dummy!"

I am willing to go out on a limb here: it is probably the best restaurant in the world right now. It alone justifies a trip to the Faroe Islands.

I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that this is one of the few places where major international foodie types will not have eaten and thus one of the few or only areas in which you're in rarefied company.

That's the intended Straussian reading.

"a larger goal of returning the balance to the earth itself", "seriously engaging with agriculture"

Let me continue in this vein a bit: "because the food, being a substance in and of itself, cannot but point to the very essence of our beings, forever impervious to adulterations, as if calling on better angels of our nature, impure, absolute and ephemeral. The balance in question, of course, is of a higher order, the one that reveals itself during the very consumation of food, an engagement between a person and nature, and therefore, between the person and the devine. Because, what is the meaning of engaging with the world, if not an elemental quest for our own destiny, be it in food, love, friendship or contemplation? In this very engagement we will find, then, that the best food, like a love poem, or like a ship abandoned in a storm, seriously challenges our preconcieved notions of angst and solitude. Whatever we may otherwise choose to believe, agriculture that provides life, and light, must forever remain in the domain of our earthly considerations, always self-renewing, alsways fresh and finite.

I am not in this league, but after a short run this morning I did make some spicy squid fried rice with left-overs from:

That combination of exercise, spice, and black coffee left me dizzy with well-being.

(I post this as encouragement. In the words of the lowbrow American comedy, You Can Do It.)

And you topped it all off by trolling the MR comments section with liberal drivel. Truly a perfect day.

Moderate drivel, Sir. If you please.

One does not rebuke Anon. He is genuinely thoughtful, for a liberal.

Cracking good show - raise the staysail and prepare boarders to enjoy a splendid repast.

Great strategy! Proclaiming the best restaurant in the world to be some decent joint in a geography you know no one will ever visit. Therefore you can't be proven wrong and readers are left in suspense.

New Nordic Cusine is bursting with different ways to prepare food that is built on hundreds of years og traditions. It is an interesting time, also for us, Nordic people. I myself live in the Faroe Islans, ten minutes from Koks and I agree that the place deserves praise for both originality and quality.

I know the New Nordic cuisine well, and it is only rarely based on traditional cooking. It strikes me as extremely faddish: it is perhaps described as the intrusion of the art world's "the shock of the new" philosophy into cuisine.

One thinks of Wilde's quotation: "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable".

"no one will ever visit"?

I think there's a strong element of projection there. It may not be New York or Paris, but the Faroes get a solid amount of tourists.

Well ... some like to look down on small places as the Faroe Islands, not even having the foggiest how beautiful this country is.

Besides having foreigners who came from all over the world to live here(USA, New Zealand, Mauritius, France, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Southern Korea and the list continues), Faroe Islands gets a very fair visitors even from the other side of the globe. So much for the "no one" theory.

"fermented blueberries": now then, are those the American blueberry, or the European bilberry/blaeberrymyrtilles/...... ?

It specializes in seasonal ... preserved food? Wha?

When they trot out such ridiculousness it really makes me question the veracity of everything else they say.

"It specializes in seasonal … preserved food? Wha?"

One must preserve when the food is in season, else it won't be there later! You don't preserve when the food is overripe .

However, controlled aging - like brine fermentation for vegetables - are methods of using nature to preserve the edibility of the food. Your comment indicates to me that you are likely only familiar with the common supermarket methods of food preservation. Even freezing leaves one with a reduced eating experience. Aging in a fridge for even a week greatly reduces food quality. More traditional forms of preservation convert the food to something that is different, not lesser.

If you ever get a chance to experience brine cured olives, or brine fermented pickles, you will find some of the best examples of those foods that you have ever had. You can't get them at a grocers. If you find vinegar in it, it's not what I'm talking about. For the pickles - fermentation methods don't add enough lifetime to make the store based sales practical, I think.

Various preparations of fermented fish are known throughout the world. I'm sure there are plenty of preservation methods for meat, as well, that I do not know. I think it is pretty common knowledge that one form of meat eaten by the Arctic native peoples was an aged meat typically served complete with maggot infestation. I would assume that the aging was done under controlled circumstances, and the maggots likely consumed and converted any bits that would be nasty for us humans to something, well, consumable.

Shaved horsemussels are red? Who knew? And as for dried cod skin, well... :-).

New Nordic Cuisine.... They seem not to be selling food, or places to socialise with joie de vivre (what restaurants were about in the Good Old Days), so much as the ideal that, with the application of enough slick modernism, you can overcome any point of origin and background, even the food traditions and basic raw ingredients of nations like the Nordics. With a kind of safe, consumerized cosmopolitan version of the nationalist urges that drove the formations and codifications of the great cuisines (eating a certain way to express the achievement of your culture and that you stand apart from the rest), and with a humanising edge to all that modernistic striving by local foraging expeditions and recipe "jam sessions". A neat little product for post-Recession high achievers clinging to meritocracy.

(And I'm sure the food is palatable, as a nice little bonus, mind).

This whole thing reads like an exercise in self-parody.

Where is Tyrone when you need him?

Rumor has it Tyrone is going back to Al Hamra:

Personally, I never rate a restaurant until I've seen the washroom. If it's not clean and presentable, who knows what the kitchen is like?

Come on Tyler, let's hear a review of KOKS' (such a Straussian name!) washroom: the elegant, understated utilitarian grey stalls with recycled plasterboard affectation and the smooth, art moderne urinals. The stalls, have no door, in keeping with the modern Nordic style but come complete with (discarded?) novels by a greatly underrated Latin American writer, all delivered in a modern and yet ancient style. As the attendant, who is also the pastry chef, (without loss of quality) gently hands you the folded Egyptian quilted roll, your eye is drawn sideways to the washbasins fashioned in the shape of a dead whale. Nearby, a bottle of Borneo 1834 and scented oils is playfully concealed underneath a giant naked mural of a Selkie attempting congress with an EU grant check, arranged with typical Faroese irony.

It might be the best washroom in the world.

Ha! I enjoyed this.

Well done, Alistair.

In Los Angeles, back in the late 1990s, the LA health department rated restaurants A, B, C depending on the washroom among other things, and the 'tastiest' places got failing "C" grades. So food quality and hygiene are inversely proportional. Who has time to wash the restroom when the restaurant is making money hand over fist?

It is nonsense to say this is the "best restaurant in the world". Different people will wildly disagree when it comes to cuisine. For example, many (perhaps most) people in India simply hate the idea of eating "raw" seafood, i.e. sushi and sashimi. You can take such a person to a Japanese three-star Michelin restaurant and there is no way that the food will be rated highly. Conversely, many cultures simply cannot stand the idea of spicy food, whether it is Thai, Mexican, Indian, or Chinese.

The best restaurant in the world is actually Jerry's Pizza and Subs in suburban Maryland.

Does Tyler spend any time around actual upper class people? Like I get that he's an elitist but does he spend time with actual elites or just the mid-tier people at GMU. Because an actual upper class person would find this post so crass and off putting so as to if anything dock Tyler status points.

I think scoring status points of kids that couldn't even get into William and Mary is hurting Cowen's status game.

Gosh, Sam, do you spend lots of time around "actual upper class people"? If so, well,it is great to know that we have an expert on "actual elites" commenting here. And I am sure that any really "actual upper class person" will indeed find this post "so crass" that, well, Tyler is just going to have no "status points" with these folks. It is really good to have an inside expert around here to make sure we know just what is what with all those "actuals." And I am sure Tyler will never recover from learning this.

Oh, but I must apologize, Sam. You are the actual upper class elite person who finds all this so crass. Thank you for letting us know of your traumatic experience reading this post.

Yikes someone's a little status anxious aren't they. Look you invited the mail order bride Barks there's got to be some status in that.

Oh my, this display of class insecurity is more embarassing than the average Rosser post. Stick to adulating Krugman and preening over ODU students and lower class whites in lifted trucks, Rosser.

Gosh, Thomas, thanks for letting me know about the those hot ODU students. Oh, but unfortunately I live four hours from there, so won't be able to preen over them, not to mention the fact that I have one of those mail order Russian brides, and those babes are super jealous, let me tell you, so I can't get away with that kind of stuff anyway. But thanks for the tip.

I'm Barkley Rosser and unlike a normal person I like to use my real name on an anonymous board. Although I work at a fourth-rate university and I am a fifth grade Economist I like to pretend my opinion matters more than other people. Also despite the fact that I earn $60,000 a year I like to pretend that I'm an upper-class individual. Curiously while I work at JMU I apparently live 4 hours away from ODU which is a 30 minute drive from JMU.

Also I have a hard time with reading comprehension. I thought by preening Thomas meant that the students were attractive, actually according to the dictionary that's not what preening means. Preening is what I do to all people at all times except for the establishment to whom i virtually fellatiate.

Well, Thomas, one is more inclined to preen when one wants to impress those one finds attractive. And to get from JMU to ODU in 30 minutes will require using a jet car.

Now now, Thomas. I am not a "fifth grade economist." I graduated to sixth grade a few years ago, made it into Middle School! If I continue to spout Establishment lines well enough, They might let me move on to the seventh grade, :-).

Says the racist and xenophobe Sam Haysom. He's got class, like the English domestic helper in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, who impressed everybody with her English accent and manners until she started spouting racists themes, then everybody knew they were superior to her.

Your balls are bluer than Walter Mitty's. Although you probally won't get the reference because it isn't sci fi.

Gosh, Sam, all I did was defend Tyler against your silly stuff. Said nothing about myself. Forgot that you were the most recent person here to make wisecracks about my "mail order bride." Just so you know that the postal delivery price was a bit high, the current head of the Russian central bank is a former student of hers and she knows Putin's top economic adviser. These sorts of things made the mail delivery system a bit difficult, as is known in the open historical record.

And all I did was try and offer a little salve to your status-anxiety Barks. Think about it you were a pioneer- a Jackie Robinson for the shy and lonely male demo.

It's becoming quite apparent that the reason Barkley Rosser takes every establishment opinion to heart and defends it on the Internet is because he's a status climbing, insecure individual. JMU is basically a nameless small liberal arts college so it makes sense. Barks desperately wants to be one of his betters so he desperately defends their pragmatic beliefs as if thry were objectively right. If Tyler Collins said that Olive Garden was surprisingly high-class Barkley would nod his head in agreement.

Tylerl praised the view. Where are the photographs of that?

Who doesn't like to eat KOKS?

Same people who, in the Philippines, patronize a restaurant called "KAKA", which means...excrement in many languages including slang in Greek.

In other words, it's rotten food.

Traditional sushi is rotten food, aged in buried ceramic containers until it reeks like kaka. Delicious. Certain German white wines, very good, like Dr. Loosen, are from rotten, moldy grapes. And then there's blue cheese...

Food always tastes great when you don't pay; did that happen here?

Where's my pepperoni?

Everytime I travel I enjoy the best espresso in the world l in spite of having an espresso machine at the office ....funny things happen in our heads when we're happy. So, it's good to read about Tyler being happy, mind the experience review.

Doesn't hunger make the food taste better? One of the best salami sandwiches I ever had was in the city of Bologna when I was so hungry even the dry hard toast they sell as some sort of bread was delicious.

I ate there on 6th August. It is a workshop, rather than either dinner, or theatre, but that is a good thing. They present, item by item, everything on the island that is edible but that you probably couldn't source for yourself, or cook so as to be appetising; and they then work a bit harder and pair it, and intersperse it, with other local-but-normal food to make it less disconcerting.

It beats any conventional degustation menu hands down because the ingredients are unusual enough that they don't need to bribe you along with salt sugar fat or gimmicks.

Napoleon clam with turnips and dill oil
roe of a kind of herring, with nettle puree
the horse mussel and cod skin you see above, with lovage
fermented mutton and dried mushroom
lamb tallow
raw cod
cooked halibut
boiled sheep head with potato
stewed fulmar with beetroot
sorrel ice cream with grass granite
candied rhubarb and angelica
seaweed caramel
more stuff, adding up to 19 courses, not too much at all. Everything was both interesting and enjoyable, except the lamb tallow which was only interesting.

I ate there in exactly the right company of world class eaters who are all very entertained to find themselves trending on an economics blog. They photographed the horse mussels too.

I thought fulmar was deer dung. Oh, wait a minute, deer dung is "fumar" (or something like that, but not fulmar; sure the fulmar was good, whatever it is). Actually I think deer dung is "fumit," not fulmar anyway, :-).

Fermented mutton?

Why wasn't I informed!! ;)

Hrmm. I won't try to fix that formatting. Anyone interested enough in the menu will work it out.

"best sashimi'?

The best raw fish? In what sense is one piece of fresh, raw fish better than another? And what does that have to with the restaurant?

Comments for this post are closed