[Non-halal] Hey cha, let’s go lei cha! Looking for the best Lei Cha in PJ?
This Hakka Lei Cha in PJ Old Town is one of our favourites.
Located in Old Town Petaling Jaya, this establishment used to operate as a stall at Restoran Soon Lee for over 30 years.
We used to tapau (take-away) the lei cha here regularly, as it is one of the tastiest and most affordable vegetarian meals for days we want to go meat-free.
When Restoran Soon Lee relocated to a new premise last year, the aunty who ran this stall decided to open her own restaurant nearby.
The best Lei Cha in PJ
This stall is pretty well-known in the area. It is known for serving one of the best Hakka Lei Cha in PJ.
For the uninitiated, Lei Cha (also known as thunder/pounded tea rice) is a traditional Hakka dish where rice is topped with various vegetables, legumes, and seeds.
The rice and greens are usually served with a bowl of tea soup made with different types of herbs and tea leaves.
The dish is said to have originated in Southern China during the Han Dynasty, and is a popular dish enjoyed by the Hakka people. Today, the dish can be found in Malaysia, Taiwan, Hunan, and Indonesia.
The new restaurant is simply called Traditional Hakka Lui Char Restaurant (傳統河婆擂茶餐室).
The restaurant is spacious and bright. To get here, just type that full name into Google Maps or Waze.
How to enjoy lei cha?
To be honest, lei cha is not a dish we enjoyed when we were kids.
However, the moreish flavour soon grew on us – and this is now one of our favourite rice dishes.
Lei cha is typically served with a bowl of rice mixed with stir-fried vegetables such as mustard greens, long beans, and choy sum. For added texture, you’ll usually find roasted peanuts, tofu, and preserved radish (chye poh).
The rice bowl is accompanied by another bowl of “tea soup”. The tea soup is the most important element of the dish – as it is made by grounding various aromatics, herbs, and tea leaves in a food processor (or pestle or mortar) until it becomes a paste.
The paste is then diluted with a bit of warm water before it is served with the bowl of rice and grains.
To enjoy the dish, simply mix the “tea soup” and the various ingredients in the rice bowl.
Best Lei Cha in PJ for 30 years
We find that every lei cha recipe differs slightly – as it is up to the creativity of the chef to come up with their own mix of grains.
What makes this bowl extra delicious is the addition of black-eyed beans and caramelised onions. They also add dried shrimps, which gives an extra umami to the dish.
For strict vegans or vegetarians, simply ask to omit the dried shrimps.
The restaurant also offers a choice of white rice and brown rice – but they were out of the latter when we arrived.
Best Lei Cha in PJ – for dine-in and take-away
As we opted for takeaway (RM6.50), the green tea paste was provided to us undiluted.
To enjoy it, we just had to add some hot water (about half a cup – according to the man who served us) to get a soupier consistency.
All in, we really enjoyed the meal. We don’t typically add a lot of “tea soup” into our bowl as we dislike that “minty toothpaste” taste, so we won’t be able to tell you much about how the soup tastes like haha.
What truly stands out is the combo of grains and vegetables, which provided so many textures and tastes.
We enjoyed the earthy flavours of the black-eyed grains and dried shrimps, in particular. We emptied the bowl in 10 minutes flat.
If you’re looking for a good traditional bowl of lei cha, you’ll have to try this. After so many years, it has remained consistently delicious and affordable. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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More vegetarian options
Looking for more restaurants with good vegetarian/vegan options? Check out the link below:
- Bowls of Steel offers amazing unique noodles dishes that’s perfect for vegetarians/vegans. We recommend the Tomatoes
Check out our meat-free recipes
Looking for some meat-free recipes? Check out our recipe archive below:
Traditional Hakka Lui Char Restaurant 傳統河婆擂茶餐室
Address: No 37, jalan 1/12 seksyen 1 pj old town 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Hours: 9am-3pm Daily
Phone: 012-798 5104
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/mscQYMUoc1oVyPx87