we can't say enough abt how much we adore this hakka dish of rice with a motley spread of blanched or lightly stir-fried vegetables (typically long beans, choi pou, cabbage, chinese leeks) accompanied by - make that drenched with, we say - a fragrant, herb-rich soup. hearty, healthy, vegetarian and oh-so wholesome. lui cha is often translated as thunder tea, but it actually means to grind.
this popular dish is widely available, and one of our favourites is ye dumplings, a dumpling house and hakka restaurant. this 17-year-old establishment is oddly located within an industrial area, surrounded by mechanics' workshops. it began as a dumplings (bachang)-only shop before expanding into a full-fledged hakka restaurant. the menu is fairly extensive, with a good variety of hearty hakka dishes including lui cha rice, yam abacus (shuin phun ci) and handmade noodles (pan mee).
where other lui cha tend to be a hefty portion, ye is smart in serving a smaller portion of rice which, when tossed with the 5-6 bowls of vegetables, makes for a suitable serving for one person. we love that theirs feature sayur manis, and the tea soup is highly fragrant with an aromatic nuttiness. the abacus, springy to the bite and well seasoned with a distinctive yam taste, comes with garnishings of minced meat and preserved vegetables while the pan mee is al dente and swims in a flavourful broth with a good amount of crispy fried ikan bilis. we also love their tong yuen, which comes in fours in a brackish ginger-rich syrup. bite into the bouncy balls and the aromatic black sesame filling oozes out.
highlights their generously-filled bachangs are also excellent - the glutinous rice is cooked perfectly and there's ample amount of fillings in each, so much so you'd wish there's more rice than ingredients. there are more than 10 variants, ranging from the traditional (chau mai, or fried grains, with the usual pork, mushrooms, salted egg yolk, chestnut combo) and nyonya, to interesting fillings such as bamboo-smoked chicken, sambal heh bi and for the health-conscious, brown rice. the latter is the only disappointing one we have tried; the brown rice just doesn't have the right amount of starch to hold it together and disintegrates into what looks like a normal plate of rice after steaming. the must-but-we-have-yet-to-try is the colossal multi-flavour abalone king bachang (must be pre-ordered) that feeds eight and goes for rm268. now that is a real whopper.
ye traditional dumplings 8g jalan pandan jaya 3/9, pandan jaya, kl tel +603 9284 5325 opens 10am-11pm, mon-sat; 10am-7pm, sun & public hol facebook
other outlets (named traditional recipe restaurant)
no 12-1 jalan pju 5/7, dataran sunway, kota damansara, pj tel +603 6141 8117 find it opposite the entrance to the food court
no 6 dynasty central, jalan kuchai maju 19 off jalan kuchai lama, kl tel +603 7982 2239