Thursday, 13 February 2014
Lei Cha 百家乐客家擂茶 at BESTMART in Taman Nusa Bestari, Johor Bahru
Dropped in early today, at the popular 百家乐 lei cha 客家擂茶 stall at BESTMART in Taman Nusa Bestari.
Lei cha is a Hakka comfort food of rice and grains eaten with yong tau foo and a green herbal vegetable gruel or ground tea (hence, the name lei cha 擂茶 which means ground tea in Hakka language).
百家乐客家擂茶 is one of the stalls in 007 Best Court which is a medium size food centre with about 20 food and drink stalls.
百家乐客家擂茶 run by the Lee family for over 6 years is well liked by their fans for their homely, flavourful lei cha made with market fresh ingredients.
For example, each piece of yong tau foo is hand assembled at the stall.
The chai poh 菜脯 is fried at the stall in slow heat so that the browned bits of preserved turnips turn out savoury and crunchy.
We were at 百家乐客家擂茶 at around 8:30am, in time to see the Lees busy preparing the food. I couldn't wait to start eating after seeing how focused and meticulous the stall holders were :D
We quickly made our orders.
Lei cha 擂茶 set RM5
Our brown rice was invisible in the bowl - blanketed under the fried peanuts, chopped long beans, cabbage, spinach and preserved radish. The rice and nuts/vegetables came with a bowl of the green herbal vegetable gruel.
The bright green ground tea is made with a mixture of tea leaves and herbs together with various roasted nuts, seeds, grains, and natural flavorings. The aroma of refreshing mint was present along with that subtle grassy smell of leafy greens.
A common way to eat lei cha is to pour the entire bowl of ground tea gruel into the bowl of rice and nuts/seeds/vegetables. I also like to eat my lei cha this way.
Some people say that lei cha, which is a Hakka comfort food, is an acquired taste for those not from the Hakka clan. Personally, I found lei cha very easy to like.
I like the interesting mix of textures - nutty seeds, crunchy chai poh, spongy toufu, tender yet firm rice and milky, slightly grainy broth.
I also enjoy the zesty aroma of mint, the grassy sweet taste of the leafy greens and the savouriness of the fried chai poh and tofu.
I also found the green colour pleasing, appetising.
To go with our lei cha, we had a piece each of the yong tau foo - eggplant, bitter gourd and toufu.
That orangey hued chili sauce (top right) was marvelous though deceptively mild looking. It has savouriness from pungent garlic and a sharp sting from chili padi that lingers - you have been warned. I like this.
All the yong tau foo pieces were stuffed with a meaty pork and fish stuffing, and panned in the wok with hot oil before serving. The bouncy stuffing was juicy and savoury-sweet - I love it. From the mouth feel and taste, it was clear that the toufu, eggplant and bitter gourd were market fresh.
百家乐客家擂茶 serves one of the best lei cha that I have tried in Malaysia, Singapore or at home.
Must Try, if you are a lei cha 擂茶 fan.
This lei cha is also popular with take-away customers.
Restaurant name: 百家乐客家擂茶 (stall in 007 Best Court food centre)
Address: Jalan Nusa Bestari 2 1/1 (off Jalan Sutara Danga)
Hours: 9:00am to 4:00pm (closed on alternate Mondays)
Date visited: 13 Feb 2014
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