During my early working days, I happened to have two Hor Poh Hak colleagues in my department. Hor Poh is one of the many clans within the Hakka community or dialect. From our chats, I always heard this particular food - Looi Char (thunder tea literally) cropped up in the conversations. You see, I loved to learn about new things, so I keep asking what are they and how they're made and so forth. It always fascinates me on how they make the soup and dishes. It never bores me when this lady colleague explained in great details how they were done whenever other people enquire about it.
At that time, there is no way we get to try this out commercially, and since there isn't any invitations either to their home for Looi Char, I resort to imagine the taste and texture. Few years down the road, another colleague of mine took me to this Hakka restaurant along Changkat Thambi Dollah. I was delighted when I saw the name hanging pretty from the sign board - Hor Poh Kitchen. Oh boy, I was hoping secretly that my desire to finally taste this peculiar dish would come true!!! And indeed, it did!
One taste of this Looi Char got me hooked as I was pre-warned that this Looi Char can be an acquired taste. I didn't find the mint and green tea in the soup awkward, infact when infused with peanuts and sesame seeds, they're very aromatic instead. Traditionally, this soup is made by grinding the mint and green tea leaves in a clay looi char pot with a guava tree stump until fine. Then crushed peanuts and sesame seeds are added and continue to grind till they're fine. To serve, just pour hot water into them.
Other than this soup, side dishes of various vegetables like French beans, sayur manis (aiks forgot the English name, the leaves you find in pan meen), leek, etc are stir-fried separatedly to be mixed into some rice with dried shrimps, peanuts and sesame seeds before eating. To savour this rice, one can either mix in the soup or drink the soup separately.
Anyway, back to Hor Poh Kitchen, it must have been 5 years or more since our last visit. I still remember their Looi Char is one of the better ones I've tasted especially so with the fragrant garlic rice. Hor Poh Kitchen slowly went off our memory as there are simply too many eating places that cropped up around this area for us to cover LOL.
We went there a few days back and the place did not change a bit. Checked the menu - had more dishes now BUT the price definitely on the high side in my opinion. Most likely to match with the posher restaurants in that area! DUH!
Hubby and I ordered a portion of the Looi Char (RM11.00) to be shared since the portion can be quite huge after mixing in the side dishes and vegetables. This serving cames with two bowls of soup. Hubby asked for a meat dish, Nam Yue Yuk (deep fried red fermented beancurd pork, RM15.00).
The minty soup is still as good as ever but sad to say they've started charging RM2 per bowl if you would like extra. I remember the last time it was complimentary. The garlic rice is a big disappointment with not much taste to it. We mixed in the accompanying 4 vegetables (sayur manis, french beans, leek and another which I can't recall what); dried shrimps, peanuts and deep fried shallots, topped up with soup before lapping them up. A bit bland but I'm all right with it since I'm used to it. The crunchy pork slices is tasty and did went well with the bland looi char but seriously for that bit of pork slices, I think it's overpriced.
This restaurant serves other dishes as well on top of fried noodles and the ever famous Hakka dish - stir fried suen poon chi (abacus seeds). I had a glance at the dishes' pricing, I still think it's a bit on the high side hehe...
On top of the 2 items above, hubby had a loh hon guo drink labelled as dessert in their menu (RM5.00) which came piping hot that he liked plus Chinese tea for myself. Add in 5% service charge and another 5% Government tax, our bill totalled RM35.20.
You can find the recipe for looi char here.
Hor Poh Kitchen Restaurant
148 Changkat Thambi Dollah,
Off Jalan Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (603) 2145 2232
Technorati Tags: malaysian food + Hakka