Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thunder Tea Rice (Lei Cha Fan)

Lei Cha Fan

This was an interesting one. I almost resigned to eating from one of the "typical" local food court stalls at Suntec City's Food Republic today until these guys caught my eye. "What the heck is Thunder Tea Rice?," I thought. I wanted to find out.

What I got was a big bowl of rice topped with assorted veggies together with some kind of a green soup. The soup was bursting with basil in aroma, but was surprisingly still a bit boring in taste, thus requiring me to pour in a bit of soy sauce to help it down. Only after I finished the soup did I realize my mistake...one is supposed to pour that green stuff (made from tea, apparently), over the rice, thus making this a bit of a Chinese version of ochazuke.

Well, despite not having any soup left to pour, I actually still liked the rice quite a bit, as those veggies were still decently tasty (and the rice decently moist) on their own. And there was definitely no guilt here for eating something so healthy. I'd like to come back (other locations at China Square, Amoy Street Food Centre, and VivoCity's Food Republic) and make sure that I eat it the proper way next time.

15 comments:

Camemberu said...

Ahh, I have been yearning for some lei cha and your post has just made me decide to go for some this week! Yes, the soup is a bit bleah on its own but once you add it to the rice, the fried anchovies give it a savoury edge. I don't usually pour the whole bowl in though but you can try and see how much you prefer. Enjoy!

Kathy said...

Hey I think the thunder tea rice is only available at the Suntec & Vivo City branch of Food Republic.

May said...

I eat it the same way (rice & soup separately) at China Square food court and everyone seemed to eat it this way too! Frankly I'd much prefer to take it separately! Not sure if the stall is still there a China Square. Good to know its now at Suntec.

D said...

Dude, just to let you know. Xiao Ping (whispering man) hotpot is NO longer in Chinatown. They're in the process of shifting to Geylang. I dine there very regularly and knew something was amissed when they weren't answering my phonecall for a booking. I turned up at the shop and saw the boss packing things up. I have his number but it's not with me at the moment, will let you know if you're interested. Cheers.

bma said...

Yeah, rising rents in Chinatown forced him out, sadly. He gave me his new business card before he left, complete with the new address, but I've accidentally misplaced it. Does anyone have the details that they can share, please? He was supposed to be doing some kind of Chinese skewered meat thing that sounded rather interesting, and if I remember correctly, is slated to open next week.

The Cooking Ninja said...

That sure looks interesting dish. I love the food at Amoy street.

Alicia said...

Ooh, I love lei cha fan as I dig vegetables and fried anchovies. I always pour roughly half of my soup into the rice to make it porridge-like but with a bit more bit. Also drink the soup separately with the mixture.
It's an acquired taste but so yummy with nuts etc. I'm a sucker for foods with texture and bite.

onekell said...

Thunder tea rice is also available at Food Republic in Vivocity, a coffeeshop in Geylang (I don't know the address) and a few other places.

Seems like this traditional Hakka favourite is gaining popularity as our society becomes more health-conscious.

D said...

Mate, this is the cellphone number for the dude who owns Xiao Ping i.e. the whispering man himself: 96771160 He's most probably relocating to Geylang Lorong1 but business will only start towards the end of the month. Let's hope the standard of his fare doesn't drop.

bma said...

I tried this stuff again for lunch today (at Amoy Street - they are still there) and remembered to pour the tea in this time. It unfortunately still came across as a bit bland, but at least it was healthy.

budak said...

The vegetarian joint Pine Tree Cafe (they have a stall in the food court on the 3rd level of HarbourFront as well as their own place at Bendemeer Road) also has lei cha.

blackeyedpirate said...

The Lei Cha Fan at China Square is still there and going strong. The "soup" is initially quite thick; they add hot water in it before they serve it to you. What I do to get max flavour and nutrients from the herbs that go into the "soup" is to ask for less hot water. Then I dowse the lot over my rice. Yum.

Anonymous said...

Thunder Tea Rice at China Square has now moved to Lau Pa Sat. Still just as great!

Anonymous said...

if u think the amoy st version is good, wait till u try the geylang coffee shop's! they are the premier lei cha seller in sg, was even mentioned on Time mag..

http://www.time.com/time/travel/cityguide/article/0,31489,1845806_1845592_1845748,00.html

though it says 134 sims ave, its actually closer to lor 17 geylang, at the 933 roast duck coffee shop...

do post ur review if u visit!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a lover of the traditional KeJia ( Hakka) Leicha as well! My family is Hakka and until today my mother and I still make it! :))

I just wanted to say that "Lei Cha" is NOT the word "Thunder" that is "Lei" - pronounced in 2nd tone in Mandarin.

The word "Lei" in Hakka means "pounded" ( if you want to pronounce it in Mandarin, you have to use the third tone) so you literally pound the tea and the other ingredients with traditional mortar and pestle to achieve the thick green paste. The action of pounding the tea and ingredients together is called "Lei" in Hakka.

So the English name of "Thunder tea" is actually a misnomer. Nothing to do with thunder at all!

An Overseas Singaporean :)