Dim sum is a long-standing southern Chinese institution which began on the Silk Road when tired travelers decided to stop for a tea break. For centuries, the Chinese thought the combination of tea and food was bad for the health. Gradually tea houses began to realize the benefits of tea for the digestive system and started offering snacks as well. Since then, dim sum (which means “touch the heart,” “morsel” or “snack”) has grown to include all forms of steamed and fried buns and rolls, whether sweet, salty, or filled with meat, vegetables or seafood.
Located in Marunouchi, Ren Ren Ren does its best to follow those traditions in Japan for the area’s weary suits. This Chinese teahouse dishes out a considerable range of dim sum from 11am daily—all served with jasmine tea, of course. We had pan-fried leek and shrimp dumplings (¥600), which didn’t look authentically Cantonese but satisfied our cravings nonetheless. We also shared steamed pork dumplings (¥700), which arrived steaming hot in a bamboo basket.
But customers are not restricted to dim sum. The lunchtime selection morphs at 3pm into an afternoon tea set. You have two choices: a soup noodle set and a dim sum set. The latter consists of dumplings plus dessert and a drink (¥1,600), and the soup noodle set includes noodles, black and white dumplings and a drink (¥1,500). Although a bit bland, the vegetable noodles (¥1,000) were slightly healthier than the dim sum, packed with carrots, cabbage and mushrooms.
Outside of tea time, Ren Ren Ren offers other sets such as stir-fried beef and vegetables or pork and eggplant for ¥1,200, with rice and tea included. Desserts such as Cantonese mango pudding tasted bona fide.