Raffles City’s food court – aptly named “The Food Place” – is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s tucked away on the third floor, hidden behind a rather small and nondescript entrance that, once passed, funnels out into veritable amphitheatre of culinary competitiveness. The vegetarian offerings appear to be strong, but the vanguard would have to be Stall 8 – the Hakka Lei Cha. Also affectionately known amongst Anglophiles as “Thunder Tea Rice”. Thunder tea rice? Thunder tea LIFE more like! Oh yes!
Thunder tea rice is known for its goody-two-shoes medicinal powers; for being a nutrition-packed meal at the worst of times, and an elixir of good health at the best. It’s very wholesome, very cleansing and (literally) very green; a perfect way to ameliorate the effects of having one too many adult beverages the night before. Thunder tea rice as a hangover cure? Another feather in its proverbial cap!
The Hakka Lei Cha (SGD 6.20 with brown rice) came with a rather hefty price tag, probably the heftiest I have ever seen for this dish. And at first glance, I was a little sceptical. The presentation was, in a word, “blokey”, as the ingredients – spinach, celery, tofu, cabbage, some red beans – were carelessly tossed on top of the brown rice. The substitution of red beans in place of the usual crushed peanuts was also a little contentious, not least because the crunchiness of the peanuts is essential to a good bowl of Lei Cha. Or so I thought.
After the first bite all perceived foibles quickly melted away; this thing was superb. Really, one of the best LC’s i’ve had. The soup was think and pungent; the basil in particular contributed a rich boldness that made the flavours more sonorous, and in doing so did an excellent job of masking the residual effects of too much boozing. The ingredients themselves had fantastic taste – the spinach and the celery stood out in particular. Yes I missed the crunchiness of the peanuts, but they soon became a distant memory as I slurped and burped my way through this bowl of gloriously green and earthy flavours and textures. This was nuts and bolts Lei Cha at its absolute best. “Nuts” in the metaphorical sense of the word, of course. Not literal.
Hakka Lei Cha
Stall 8, The Food Place, #03-15/16/17 Raffles City Shopping Centre, Raffles City