Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lei Cha

This is something totally foreign to me. I sort of remember Bento mentioning this before. I was told by a friend that I should try this Hakka rice especially now that they have moved from Lintas to shoplot 1 in the Taman Cantek shophouses.

Last Sat, Lily, Hub and I walked into the shop and asked for "lei cha" and this is what was displayed:

P1220330

My hub immediately walked off to the next stall and ordered Kuching laksa. He looked totally disgusted and upset. I guess it insulted his meat-loving cells. Lily and I settled for a bowl each, which came like this:

P1220335
Lei cha. RM4.50/US$1.40

We were half-amused and half-apprehensive. Almost half-afraid too. I thought of all the cha shao and chicken rice I could be eating. "This is crazy. It looks awful," was what went through my mind.

It wasn't so bad. In fact, it was pleasant. Imagine the taste of boiled veg, preserved radish (choy bo), dried shrimps, peanuts, fried tofu, boiled french beans with brown rice. Hardly any oil or salt. The peanuts and radish gave a lot of crunch while the saving grace was the flavor given by the dried shrimps and reserved radish. What I didn't like was the 'soup', which was milled or ground herbs ("Lei" means to mill or grind, "Cha" is tea) infused in boiling water. It tasted like a bowl of unsalted mint and basil chlorophyll. If I have to live on that, I'd have Kiera Knightly's chopsticks body too. Now that's an idea. Yi, are you reading this? This may be the mother of all diets. I intend to eat lei cha once a week. I swear it made me feel lighter and cleaner, very detoxified.

I took Ming there for lunch today. What I like about this boy is, he's like me when it comes to food. While we love meat, we also love veg. Ming can eat a whole plate of greens like Little Foot. Apprehensive at first, laughing with embarassment at the bowl placed in front of him, he was still better than his dad. He took a spoonful, then another, and gamely said, "It's quite good actually." We both skipped the soup. I saw this guy at another table pour all the soup into the bowl of rice, and I shuddered. I looked around and nearly everybody was eating lei cha even though there were two other stalls selling Kuching laksa and BBQ meat and noodles. We started a guessing game and we were pretty accurate on predicting which patron would order lei cha, and which one would go for the meat meal. The guys who won't eat lei cha are dark, pudgy sorts while the lei cha guys are fairer and more serene-looking. Could it be because they are Buddhists who come here for a vegan meal? I also noticed that most lei cha patrons are ladies and Ming said it figures because women are so into health and looks. Btw, I recommend that you have it with brown and not white rice. That's what L, who told me about this place, adviced me too and he's right. Given that the weather's been boiling, stuffy hot the past 4 days, lei cha is an excellent choice. I've always wondered why Malaysians eat hot boiling noodles in this heat.

Now the next person I want to bring to the lei cha shop is Wey. If I can make him eat it, it'll be like winning the Lotto.

16 comments:

bryan said...

What's the name of the shop? I don't really know where Taman Cantek is, I'll have to hunt for it. Sounds like a nice healthy meal, would be nice to have one of those once in a while.

Hong Yi said...

um, i don't eat rabbit food, thank you.

bryan said...

Neither do I, but sacrifices must sometimes be made.

Hong Yi said...

*shudder shudder*

b said...

heheheee... great to know that Lei Cha is avialable here...I'll check it out... my mom and I were just at the Kuching laksa stall this morning.. isn't it funny that in Peninsular, it's well known as a Hakka dish and over here many pure Hakkas have not heard of it before. I wonder where it originated.

Shan said...

I know where that shop is. I used to go there for breakfast - soupy noodle type dishes.

But I have never ever heard of this dish ever. It really does sound unique but I don't see myself enjoying the combination of flavors. And the soup looks a little scary.

Thanks as always for the info though :D

bento pet said...

Wheeeee....!!! I love Lei Cha!!! Glad you enjoy it too. New comers prefer eat it 'kon low' (dry without the soup. The professional lei cha eaters just dump their soup in together like a broth - it's an acquired taste.

The soup can get very nice if you add the correct herbs in. Basically made of Basil, mint, peanuts, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, some other herbs and 'char sum' (it's tea). I love it with lots of basil - reminds me of Pesto!! Yum! Yum!

This is very good for de-toxification. Always does the job well!!

Denise ^ ChiCkyEGG said...

ho ho ho !
if u can make Wey swallow that, I give u a BOW!

Precious Pea said...

I had it before and thank god that I didn't know pour the whole bowl of soup into my rice. Tried one sip and got turn off. The rice tastes good with the condiments alone.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

bryan: u don't know where Tmn Cantek is?! it's famed for houses with good structure bc the developers r Shanghainese...:0 The shop's name is Double Happiness. I think. yes, try it, i really will eat it at least once a week.

yi: u will eat it, n u will like it, n u will even crave for it like Ming does.

b: the lei cha guy told me tt it's a 'Hopo' Hakka dish. most sabahan Hakkas r not Hopo Hakkas, tt's why we have never had this b4.

shan: yes, it does look scary doesn't it. but have an open mind n try it soon. tell me what u think:)

bento: like pesto?? no way! but still, i am beginning to like it more n more. it is against my carnivorous nature, but lei cha makes me feel better, cleaner n livelier.

denise: he said "Over my dead body".

preciousp: yes the soup's quite disgusting. i now order the rice only. it's healthy n i'm glad there's such a thing as lei cha. now i can eat all i want and lei cha once a week.

Anonymous said...

I have actually tried it two years back. There was a stall in May & May at Lintas Square. The stall is no longer there, though. I actually like it don't like the taste of the soup. Too strong for me.
Raina

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

raina: the shop in Lintas moved to Tmn Cantek. bet Kiet, like Hub, refused to try it.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

bryan: have u checked it out yet? the shop's name is Kedai Kopi Double Luck.

bryan said...

No, not yet, spent the day at Kiulu today. I gotta convince someone to try it with me. Problem is most of my friends are avowed meat-eaters too!

Big Boys Oven said...

I had this near my place, awesome!

Anonymous said...

Actually Kiet was the one who introduced Lei Cha to me. Hope this will encourage Wedge to give it a try?
Raina

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