What is thunder tea rice (擂茶饭)? It was a dish I had heard of but had not tried before. And so when we decided to eat at the Food Republic food court at Capitol Piazza recently, it was an easy choice for me when I saw the Hakka Lei Cha stall. My lunch companion had a tougher time deciding what to eat as all the stalls look so nice there. She eventually settled on mee pok with Teochew dumplings.
I have since learnt that lei cha “擂茶” is ground tea. The pronounciation sounds like “thunder tea” in Chinese. Thunder tea rice is a Hakka dish which is made up of a bowl of rice topped with vegetables and other ingredients. It is accompanied by a bowl of green soup. According to an article in the South China Morning Post, the soup ” … is made of seven types of vegetable and five condiments including mugwort, sweet leaf and three-leaved acanthopanax.” These are ground and boiling water is added to create a thick green soup.
Hakka Thunder Tea Rice
There are different types of rice and food combinations at the Hakka Lei Cha kiosk at Food Republic. I selected the Hakka Lei Cha with olive rice ($6.50).
This is how my thunder tea rice looks like. I must admit the murky, foamy lei cha soup did not look very appealing. It tasted like a cross between green tea and vegetable soup. The rice was topped with various finely chopped vegetables, together with some ikan bilis and peanuts. It was like a low meat, more veg version of nasi lemak. The tea can be added to the rice to create a porridge-like meal. With all the ingredients cut into tiny bits, it is easy to eat this using just a spoon.
How does thunder tea rice taste like? Bland and healthy are two words that come to mind. This is not a dish I would eat because it is delicious. But I would eat it again as a break between heavy meals. It felt light and not oily. According to a sign at the stall, consuming lei cha has many benefits. They include longevity, enhanced immune system, detoxification etc.
Guan’s Mee Pok
Guan Mee Pok is a popular stall at Food Republic, Capitol Piazza. I suspect it is because the familiar mee pok dish is offered with some less common toppings, such as fish maw and sotong. We decided on mee pok with Teochew dumplings in chicken soup ($6.80).
The Guan’s mee pok was quite ordinary. It was thicker than usual and felt substantial. We thought that the chilli and flavouring was also rather ordinary.
The dumplings were another matter. They were very good. The soup and the dumplings will be the reason we want to eat at Guan’s again.
Hakka Lei Cha
Guan’s Mee Pok
Food Republic @ Capitol Piazza
13 Stamford Road
Tel: +65 6384 3359
11 am to 10 pm (Daily)
Nearby MRT Stations: City Hall, Bras Basah
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