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Here’s where to find the best thunder tea rice in Singapore

Before the grain bowl, there was thunder tea rice, an ancient Hakka dish more fondly known as Lei Cha.

Preparation of thunder tea rice first begins with a painstaking pulverisation of a multitude of vegetables and herbs (which include mugwort, basil, tea leaves and nuts) with a mortar and pestle, which is then added with boiling water to create a bright green soup. On the table, it is served alongside a bowl of rice that’s topped with an assortment of chopped vegetables.

The nutritious, vegetarian bowl was created during the warring Three Kingdoms period in China, said to keep the soldiers in good shape and resistant to disease. Perhaps due to to its strange-looking colour and the characteristic “green” aroma of the soup, thunder tea rice remains a niche, albeit polarising dish in Singapore.

thunder tea rice best thunder tea rice yong tau foo lei cha Hakka thunder tea rice
(Image credit: @pameliachia via Instagram)

It isn’t commonly found here either: many hawkers are put off by its labour-intensive process, and most diners would rather opt for a plate of chicken rice than a bowl of greens topped with a thick tea soup.

Yet, we’re seeing a resurgence in popularity over the dish due to the increasing amount of consumers who looking to incorporate more greens into their diet. Read on for some of our favourite thunder tea rice spots in town. After all, there’s no time like the present to get started on the healthy-eating, right?

Here’s where to find the best thunder tea rice in Singapore:

((Hero and featured image credit: @pamelachia via Instagram & Living Wholesome Vegetarian)

1 /7

Ah Lock & Co

If you’re new to thunder tea rice, perhaps you’d like to give a more modern version of the dish a go before delving into the traditional flavours. For this, Ah Lock & Co, nestled in the basement of Guoco Tower, is the place you should head to. The grain bowl infuses elements of both thunder tea rice and Hakka yong tau foo, and the result is an innovative rice bowl that’s complete with touches of tradition and familiarity. Vegetarians take note: unlike regular thunder tea rice, the bowl here comes with stuffed chicken tofu and meatballs.

Address
7 Wallich St, #B2 - 22 / 23 / 24, Singapore 078884

2 /7

Thunder Tree

The prices at Thunder Tree may be a little steeper compared to the more traditional stalls, but diners have to account for the fact that the establishment uses mainly organic ingredients and there isn’t any MSG, artificial flavouring, or colouring in their preparation process. Each generously portioned bowl comes with a creamy green soup that isn’t too bitter or herbaceous, making it a great option for those who enjoy a more viscous soup option that’s light in flavour.

(Image credit: @zehbeehoon via Instagram)

Address
585 North Bridge Road, Raffles Hospital Basement 1 Stall R8 S(188770)

3 /7

Sunny Choice

Vegetarian cafe Sunny Choice has been operating since 2007, and their thunder tea rice is hands down, one of the most popular items on the menu. Instead of the regular ikan bilis, peanuts, and choy sum, they’ve replaced them with more premium items like fried enoki mushrooms, cashew nuts and the cekur manis. The broth is a secret recipe from the owner, who uses a total of ten ingredients to create a deep, olive-green soup that’s delightfully sweet and savoury at the same time.

(Image credit: @mew.tatsme via Instagram)

Address
434 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 678060

4 /7

Thunderbolt Tea

If you’re looking for a thunder tea rice stall that’s big on the savoury notes, you’ll find yourself right at home at Thunderbolt Tea. The fragrant broth is slightly creamy, with aromatic hints of sesame and peanuts — a recipe that’s been with the heritage spot since it first opened. If you think you won’t be full after a bowl of vegetables, you can always add some fried pork belly to top the dish off with.

(Image credit: @cuisineparadise via Instagram)

Address
129 Geylang East Ave 2, #01-100, Singapore 380129

5 /7

Traditional Hakka Rice

The bowls at Traditional Hakka Rice come crowned with a delightful mix of tofu fried with leek and dried shrimp, preserved radish, shredded cabbage, chopped green beans, and a scattering of toasted peanuts to give the dish a crunchy, textured mouthfeel. The broth, however, is what really stands out — refreshing, balanced and not overwhelmingly bitter. The sea of green sees toasted sesame seeds and peanuts with basil, mugwort and sawtooth leaf to create a nutty, aromatic mixture that’s great for beginners.

(Image credit: @breadandcaifan via Instagram)

Address
6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #02-21 Market and Food Centre, Singapore 081006

6 /7

Living Wholesome Vegetarian

Each hearty and nutritious bowl here comes with cai xin, cabbage, fried tofu, black-eyed peas, cai po, peanuts, and sesame seeds, and diners can opt for either steamed bee hoon or brown rice as their main source of carb here. The flavours are overall, well-balanced, and the thunder tea soup is a little milder on the herb notes, which makes it perfect for thunder tea rice newbies. If you can’t get enough of this dish, you can head to their stall to buy the paste as well — best mixed with water to make your own version at home, or as a salad dressing, a dip for your chips or a sauce for your meals.

Address
51 Upper Bukit Timah Road, #02-188 Bukit Timah Food and Market Centre, Singapore 588172

7 /7

Hakka Thunder Tea Rice

Located at Tanglin Halt Food Centre, Hakka Thunder Tea Rice is an affordable option, and a S$4 bowl of brown rice lei cha will get you a generous bowl that’s topped with the whole works, including special toppinngs such as fried leeks, ikan bilis, tofu, and peanuts. This stall also uses fried cai po to add smokiness and a touch of umami to the already flavourful dish, which pairs perfectly with the deliciously creamy tea soup.

(Image credit: @cafehoppingkids via Instagram)

Address
3A Commonwealth Dr, #01-31 Tanglin Halt Food Centre, Singapore 141001
Phone
+65 8189 9676
Ah Lock & Co
1
Ah Lock & Co

If you’re new to thunder tea rice, perhaps you’d like to give a more modern version of the dish a go before delving into the traditional flavours. Ah Lock & Co, nestled in the basement of Guoco Tower, is the place you should head to. The grain bowl infuses elements of both thunder tea rice and the Hakka yong tau foo that results in an innovative rice bowl complete with touches of tradition and familiarity. Vegetarians take note: unlike regular thunder tea rice, the bowl here comes with stuffed chicken tofu and meatballs.

(Image credit: @ahlocknco via Instagram)

Thunder Tree
2
Thunder Tree

The prices at Thunder Tree may be a little steeper compared to the more traditional stalls, but diners have to account for the fact that the establishment uses mainly organic ingredients and there isn’t any MSG, artificial flavouring or colouring in their preparation process. Each generously portioned bowl comes with a creamy green soup that isn’t too bitter or herbaceous, making it a great option for those who enjoy a more viscous soup option that’s light in flavour.

(Image credit: @zehbeehoon via Instagram)

Sunny Choice
3
Sunny Choice

Vegetarian cafe Sunny Choice has been operating since 2007, and their thunder tea rice is hands down, one of the most popular items on the menu. Instead of the regular ikan bilis, peanuts and choy sum, they’ve replaced them with more premium items like fried enoki mushrooms, cashew nuts and the cekur manis. The broth itself is a secret recipe from the owner, who uses a total of ten ingredients to create a deep, olive-green soup that’s delightfully sweet and savoury at the same time.

(Image credit: @mew.tatsme via Instagram)

Thunderbolt Tea
4
Thunderbolt Tea

If you’re looking for a thunder tea rice stall that’s big on the savoury notes, you’ll find yourself right at home at Thunderbolt Tea. The fragrant broth is slightly creamy, with aromatic hints of sesame and peanuts — a recipe that’s been with the heritage spot since it first opened. If you think you won’t be full after a bowl of vegetables, you can always add some fried pork belly to top the dish off with.

(Image credit: @cuisineparadise via Instagram)

Traditional Hakka Rice
5
Traditional Hakka Rice

The bowls at Traditional Hakka Rice come crowned with a delightful mix of tofu fried with leek and dried shrimp, preserved radish, shredded cabbage, chopped green beans and a scattering of toasted peanuts to give the dish a crunchy, textured mouthfeel. The broth, however, is what really stands out: refreshing, balanced and not overwhelmingly bitter. The sea of green incorporates toasted sesame seeds and peanuts with basil, mugwort and sawtooth leaf to create a nutty, aromatic mixture that’s great for beginners.

(Image credit: @breadandcaifan via Instagram)

Here’s where to find the best thunder tea rice in Singapore

Jocelyn Tan

Senior Writer

Jocelyn Tan is a travel, food and design writer who loves to explore lesser-known cities abroad and chat with locals about their favourite eats in town. When she's not writing, she's probably indulging in serial killer podcasts or reading one too many books on East Asian history.

 

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