SINGAPORE RESTAURANT

Renku

A high tea buffet with artisanal heritage teas and bites in Marina Bay Sands

One for the tea fanatics, Renku Bar and Lounge at Marina Bay Sands delights the senses with an unlimited buffet of finger sandwiches, desserts, and artisanal tea blends. Pick from the 13 unique flavors available (many of which are inspired by our country's heritage and local flavors), or craft your own concoction, using fresh flowers and herbs from MBS's very own herb garden. 

The hype: Renku joins Marina Bay Sands’ portfolio of restaurants as its latest premium bar lounge—and the only one that operates 24 hours. Specializing in high tea and beverages, Renku promises a first-of-its-kind high tea experience, complete with a personal tableside service allowing guests to create artisanal tea blends.

The vibe: Meaning “linked verses”, "Renku" is a Japanese form of poetry that eventually gave birth to the now more popular haiku. The bar and lounge reflects that same Japanese influence, with decor that evokes calm, artistic serenity, and an ambience to match. Plush armchairs are peppered around the lounge area, while oak furnishings and shades of bronze and deep emerald bring out the nature element—so you can take your tea in utmost comfort.

The food: As part of Renku’s high tea program ($48 on weekdays, $53 on weekends), guests get unlimited access to a three-course afternoon tea menu of savoury and sweet bites, wheeled to you on an elegant custom-made gueridon trolley. Of the premium sandwiches, go for the prawn avocado with tobioki aoli, served on an attractively pink beetroot bun that tastes healthier than it looks. The truffle egg salad is another easy favorite, wedged between charcoal buns elevating a bog-standard egg mayo sandwich. The selection varies daily, so we’re looking forward to coming back to give some of the others a try, like the tomato with burrata and macadamia pesto.

After that, ring up an order of the traditional scones, modelled specifically after the buttery scones in London. Renku’s are dense but still light, and served with fresh orange butter and clotted cream to balance out the carb overload.

You’ll likely be stuffed by now, but no matter, for dessert goes straight to the heart. The selection of sweets on the trolley impressively matches that of the savoury nibbles. To start, sample the strawberry pistachio cake (sweet but not too cloying), or the dark chocolate majestic cake; either way, you’ll find yourself at the end of the meal gorging on the yuzu cream cheese mille feuille—a lightly flavored creation of citrusy cream sandwiched neatly between pastry slices. That, or the little mochi balls painted to look like watermelon.

The drinks: The plating and variety of the tea-time finger food are delightful, but the piece de resistance has to be the five-star tea service. Choose from 13 unique tea blends, free-flow and produced by local tea atelier Ette; each tea is served in a full pot, but feel free to switch out to another flavor any time throughout your meal so you can taste the full lineup.

Most of the teas on the menu pay homage to Singapore’s heritage, and use herbs picked from Marina Bay Sands’ own herb garden. We were partial to lighter flavors, like the pandan earl grey black tea that blends pandan, blue corn flower and bergamot; and the Nasi Lemak tea, which boasted an aromatic coconut taste (nothing as overwhelming as a certain infamous burger). While the teas are available for purchase in canisters or from Ette stores, two tea blends are exclusive to MBS—a subtle, jasmine-scented tea called Marina Pearls, and a more daring black tea concoction called Durian Lapis. You can even customize your own tea from the selection of tea bases (green, white or black) and herbs available, with the help of professional tea masters on-site.

If you’re in the mood for day-drinking, Renku also serves a wide variety of tea-infused cocktails and beers. The Renku Lager is a green tea-infused, craft Bavarian lager that’s light on the palate and a refreshing pairing for the buffet.  

Why you’ll be back: The unlimited tea buffet alone is reason enough to come, and arguably worth the steep price tag. The blends are fragrant and incredibly unique, and Renku’s decor makes for a most luxurious high tea dining experience. That, and the fact that nowhere else in Singapore will you find a dedicated tea service that allows you the flexibility of switching out your teapots constantly, simply because you fancy sampling another—no matter the time of the day. A must-go for any tea connoisseur; it’s death by tea in the most delightful way.

Venue Details
Address: Renku, Hotel Lobby Marina Bay Sands Tower 1, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Ave., Singapore, 018956 Singapore
Phone: 6688-5535
Website: www.marinabaysands.com/restaurants/cafe/renku-bar-lounge
Area: Central, Marina Bay
Cuisine: Buffet, Sandwiches
Price Range: $$
Open since: September, 2017
Opening hours: daily noon-midnight
Nearest trainBayfront
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