Friday, 1 November 2013
Johor Lei Cha 擂茶 at Volcano Coffee House 火山 in Kelapa Sawit, Kulaijaya
Lei Cha Rice Set RM4
The night before going to Kulai for food hunt, I asked Johor Kaki Facebook readers for suggestions. I was especially interested in traditional Hakka dishes as Kulai has a large Hakka population. Some readers from Kulai suggested that I try the lei cha 擂茶 at Volcano Coffee House in Kelapa Sawit.
By the time we got to Volcano at nearly 2:00pm, they were already getting ready to close for the day. We were their last customers for that day.
Volcano opens at 5:00am to serve the workers who do the daily commute from Kulai and Kelapa Sawit to Singapore for work. Leaving for a long commute and a hard day's work with a warm home cooked meal at Volcano is a small comfort for these hardworking workers.
Volcano is a family run business by Mdm Lew, her husband and their two daughters. Mdm Lew showing me just two of the many green vegetables and herbs that went into making the lei cha tea 茶. These are ground into a paste to make the green gruel or lei cha.
Mdm Lew said that she used to make lei cha at home for the family. So now the whole family chips in to make lei cha for anyone who comes to the shop. So it is still very much home cooked food here at Volcano.
The steamed white rice is topped with a colourful blanket of diced pickled radish, long beans, sayur manis, cabbages, and fried scrambled eggs. There was also a small bowl of chopped peanuts.
Lei cha is eaten by pouring the "tea" into the rice and diced vegetables. While the lei cha tea is full bodied and slightly creamy, the flavours are all subtle and gentle on the taste buds. It has hints of mint and comforting sweet fragrant greens.
I love this complex blend of texture and flavours, and enjoy it even more when I appreciate the hard work that went into preparing it.
We could only have this basic set as Volcano was sold out for the day. If we were early, we could have a full range of Hakka yong tau fu sides.
Seeing how we loved the lei cha tea, Ms Lew brought us a second bowl of hot lei cha tea for us to enjoy.
While the rest of the family members were clearing up and closing the shop for the day, Mr Lew had already started getting ready for the next day's business. Everything is still done the traditional way i.e. by hand.
At the end of the meal and as we got ready to pay and leave, Mdm Lew declined to accept our payment.
Such is kampung hospitality, not uncommon but always treasured and deeply felt. We were total strangers appearing out of the blue but all left with warm happy memories. I hope we left good memories for them too.
We will definitely be back - to visit friends and to enjoy a home cooked lei cha.
->> Kulai people's favourite. Fresh homestyle meal in a homely kampung ambiance.
Date visited: 30 Jul 2013
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