"Yum Cha" means "drinking tea" in Cantonese and refers to what most people generally call "dim sum" - an event that marries drinking tea with eating small dishes. Whatever the correct nomenclature, I love me some good dim sum. Having lived in San Francisco for most of my adult life, I always had access to amazing, and amazingly cheap, dim sum.
Chinese food in Tokyo is generally very disappointing - I would venture to say that most Chinese food I've had so far in Tokyo doesn't even live up to Panda Express standards (although to be fair, ramen is technically Chinese noodles, and the Japanese have ramen down to an art form).
So when a Cantonese friend told me there was an excellent dim sum joint in Ebisu that served dim sum all day, every day, I put it on my list of must-eats immediately.
I wasn't disappointed - all of the dishes we ordered were delicious, from the deep-fried wonton nest-wrapped shrimp, to the slightly sweet fried glutinous rice balls filled with meat, to the various steamed har giow, to the sauteed pea sprouts. I was in dim sum heaven. The price was a bit of sticker shock after being used to being able to get more than my fill of dim sum for less than $10 in SF, but just knowing that there is a haven of excellent Cantonese food in Tokyo makes me feel a little bit closer to SF.
Egg roll, wonton-nest wrapped fried shrimp, glutinous rice balls filled with meat
Assortment of steamed dumplings
Sauteed pea sprouts
Food rating: **** and a half
Bang for buck rating: 3.5
3 minute walk from west exit of JR Ebisu station, Tokyo
Average price of meal for two: 8000 (~$90)