If you already have a bevy of Chinese menus with sauce stains in your house that no longer excite you, Ren Dumpling & Noodle House in Norwalk may just become your new “go to.” Tucked in the corner of a vast shopping plaza in Wilton, Ren Dumpling & Noodle House seems to be far from overlooked. This cozy and clean joint was bustling with hungry customers dining in and picking up takeaway.
Full disclosure: I lived in Hong Kong for five years, therefore, with five years experience consuming copious amounts of dumplings under my belt, my curiosity was piqued although my expectations may have been skewed. Ren isn’t all about the dumplings, however. In fact, the rest of the menu showcases an impressive amount of options you would see on most Chinese menus, with the addition of the odd Thai or Vietnamese dish or two, which seems to be standard these days.
Honestly speaking, there are some dumplings which I feel aren’t worthy of writing about, but that is balanced out by those that do deserve a little attention. Nonetheless, for those of you who jones the dumpling “bite factor,” that moment you sink your teeth into a tiny package of savory goodness and feel your carb cravings melt away, read on.
The steamed pork soup dumpling was a quite good, warming bite of flavorful broth and pork, the perfect treat on a day like today, with plummeting digits outside. The dough, made in house, was appropriately delicate and the broth was flavorful. I also liked the Szechuan dumplings. Filled with pork and enveloped in a red hot sauce, I opted to order the dish with the heat dialed down. Think peanut sauce with chilies, clean and flavorful. The sauce would also be delicious over rice and veggies at home if you can manage to ask for extra sauce on the side.
The bbq pork bun (cha siu boa), a staple of Chinese dim sum, was just ok. The bun to filling ratio was off in my opinion, much in favor of the bun, but who would ever said no to eating one of the fluffiest boas known to mankind.
I ended up eating here on two occasions, as I was told after my first visit for lunch, that there was more buzz about this place than previously thought. I went back to explore the menu beyond the dumplings and bao.
With the menu as large as it is, there was plenty more to order the second time around. Their Mongolian beef, which I hadn’t had in years, was wonderfully flavorful as was their Chinese eggplant and tofu. Both dishes were cooked to my liking. The beef wasn’t overly chewy and the eggplant and tofu were soft, but still discernible. The flavors were distinct in each dish. In other words, it wasn’t the same old “brown sauce” reinvented each time a plate was put in front of me.
Off of their Wok’n’ Grill portion of the menu, I ordered their Dragon & Phoenix- white meat chicken with homemade sesame sauce and jumbo prawns. The chicken was actually a true bite of white meat chicken, which isn’t usually my expectation at a local Chinese restaurant and I enjoyed each morsel of the chicken and large prawns, gently coated with a lot of flavor.
Ren does a good job with their flavor profiles, each dish recognizable from the other as I mentioned before, and even more noticeable was that the food was not drowning in sauce. No soggy vegetables to be found and I appreciated that.
So, what’s the “takeaway” here? It’s Sunday night, you’ve been out all day at your kids games and cooking is not in the cards- well, you’ve got a new option in town! And pssst, “They are also on Uber Eats.” What good fortune!
Ren Dumpling & Noodle House
14 Danbury Road Wilton, CT