Funky Flavours: Eight Restaurants Doing Crazy Things With Fermentation

Turn up the funk with our pick of the most innovative restaurants putting pickles, pastes and ferments on the menu

Pass the kombucha: we're raising a toast to funky foods. Fermentation has never been more popular, with chefs from Brighton to Bogotá discovering the tongue-tingling delights of letting a little bacteria bloom. This culinary technique is nothing new - humans are thought to have been playing with funky flavours as far back as 10,000 BC - but with its food waste-cutting credentials and the ever-expanding potential of what fermented foods can do, both in adding flavour to dishes and improving our health, innovative chefs all over are playing scientist and adding a sour, umami bite to their best dishes, with some mouthwatering outcomes. Here are eight restaurants around the world doing funky things with ferments.

Bubbling and brining: the world's best restaurants for fermentation

Scully Restaurant, chef


Scully Restaurant

London, UK

Chef Ramael Scully doesn't hide his fascination with fermentation - at his eponymous London restaurant, the kaleidoscopic splendour of a wall of jars housing all manner of homemade spices, pickles and preserves acts like the gastronomic equivalent of the chef putting his heart on his sleeve for all things funk. Born in Malaysia and brought up in Sydney, with a Chinese-Indian mother and Irish-Balinese father, Scully experiments with the bold and vibrant ferments of his diverse culinary heritage. Expect lightly spiced tomatoes and turnips in a six-month-fermented tomato shrub, thinly sliced celeriac with a nut granola, spiced butter and two-year-preserved lemons, and bergamot labneh with aubergine sambal and arepa - a ground maize dough that's fermented for eight days.


4 St James’s Market, London SW1Y 4AH, UK

Herbs, Unsplash
Photo credit: Annie Spratt /


L’Air du Temps

Liernu, Belgium

Korean-born chef Sang-Hoon Degeimbre uses every carrot top, cabbage leaf and wayward spiral of citrus peel harvested from the several hectares of garden and greenhouse that surround this two-Michelin-starred Ardennes restaurant. Planted with over 400 varieties of vegetables and herbs, the garden provides 95 per cent of the food used in the kitchen, with any surplus fermented for future use in a purpose-transformed basement below the historic farmhouse. Expect plates of Breton lobster with jangajji pickles, and vegetables doused in a furious and fiery kimchi sauce. Dinner will dig into your bank balance; set menus (not including drinks) start from £150.


Rue de la Croix Monet 2, 5310 Éghezée, Belgium

Mother, Toronto Drinks



Toronto, Canada

A stalwart on the fermentation scene, this Canadian spot (primarily a bar, but with small plates on the pass) borrows from a global cookbook of funky concoctions to curate its pickle-packed menu. Must-orders include the creamy burrata served with pickled tomatoes and lacto-fermented celery, and the koji-aged beef tartare. For drinks, try the sake and lacto-fermented pear pour, or a creamy, koji-spiked gin cocktail.


874 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G3, Canada

Kabi, Tokyo
Photo credit: Megumi /



Tokyo, Japan

This Tokyo restaurant is bold in its intentions: Kabi translates as "mould", a somewhat unenticing name considering the funk-fuelled magic that takes place in its kitchen. Chef Shohei Yasuda brings the New Nordic style of cuisine practised at his former posting in hotshot Copenhagen restaurant Kadeau to Tokyo, serving a regularly changing tasting menu of 14 courses shaped by what he finds on foraging trips beyond the megacity's borders. A drinks menu of natural wines and sakes pairs perfectly with the umami-rich flavours of the food. Previous dishes have seen crunchy daikon paired with fermented tomato water, and pickled mackerel wrapped in shiso.


4 Chome-10-8 Meguro, Meguro City, Tokyo 153 0063, Japan

Atomix, New York, US



New York, US

Located in a discreet residential building in New York's NoMad neighbourhood, this cutting-edge kitchen plates traditional Korean dishes using globally sourced ingredients. Running two 14-head seatings a night, with guests arranged around a U-shaped counter that overlooks an open kitchen, chef Junghyun "JP" Park has devised a tasting menu of 10 dishes, the majority of which offer something funky. Dinner commences with diners picking their preferred pair of chopsticks, and then dives into eight savoury dishes, followed by two dessert courses. Soju and sake recommendations come courtesy of JP's partner Ellia Park.


104 E 30th St, New York, NY 10016, US

Ræst, Faroe Islands



Ræst, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Stuck out in the remote edges of the Danish kingdom, the self-governing Faroe Islands are rugged and wild - and an unexpected spot for a fine-dining destination that showcases traditional Faroese fare. At Ræst, dinner guests enter a 400-year-old, turf-roofed building and sit at long, communal tables to taste some of the most out-there fermented foods going. Expect to try cow intestine and lamb cuts air-dried in the traditional hjallur shed, alongside fermented langoustine liver, cured cod belly and marinated mackerel. The menu comes in at around £166, but we'd add the wine flight (£112) for the full experience - a selection of fermented alcohols paired to each dish.


Gongin 8, FO 100 Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, Denmark

Burder, Austria
Photo credit: Marius Mammerler



Vienna, Austria

Bruder's USP might be cocktails infused with fermented concoctions, but the food heading out of its pass holds its own against the theatrical drinks offering. An ever-changing menu interprets traditional Austrian cuisine with a modern twist, using, where possible, ingredients gathered by the chefs themselves. The space is moody and melancholy - a cavernous labyrinth with backlit pickle shelves behind the bar - and there's a popular garden out back. If you're just drinking, expect to encounter bitters, infusions and ferments in whatever you order, and don't leave without trying the brosecco - a funky, biodynamic take on fizz dreamt up by the innovative duo behind the bar.


Windmühlgasse 20, 1060 Vienna, Austria

7th Door, Seoul
Photo credit: Jet Dela /


7th Door

Seoul, South Korea

Prepare to be lifted to a higher realm: chef-owner Kim Dae-Chun's aim at this Seoul restaurant is to take diners to gastronomic heaven. After a 20-year quest to perfect his flavour creations, he reckons he's worked out how to evoke paradisiacal pleasure through eating. The secret? Fermentation. Diners entering 7th Door walk down a neon-lit, jar-lined corridor and enter the dining space via - you guessed it - the seventh door. The walk is meant to represent the ethos behind the space, where our five main tastes are joined by a sixth, fermented food, and a seventh - the fusion of all six others. Don't worry if that's flown over your head; you'll have plenty of time to quiz the kitchen team. The chef keeps things exclusive, with only 14 diners per each 10-course meal - and you'll have to book your space via a hotel concierge if your Korean isn't tiptop.


41 4F, Hakdong-ro 97-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

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