Before Instagram-worthy grain bowls and rice bowls came along, the OG rice bowl in Singapore was thunder tea rice, or lei cha. Our local food is known for being absolutely drool-worthy, but it’s not always the healthiest. Lei cha however, is packed full of nutrients and made from grinded herbs like Thai basil, mugwort, mint and coriander. In fact, it was created during the warring Three Kingdoms period and said to have helped a general and his troops beat back the plague!
We’re not so sure how it’ll work in the face of Covid, but the dish has seen a resurgence in popularity due to the increasing number of people looking to incorporate more greens into their diet. If you’re looking to have yourself a hearty bowl of lei cha, look no further. Here are our favourite spots for thunder tea rice in Singapore!
1. Hakka Thunder Tea Rice
This beloved stall at Tanglin Halt Food Centre seems to draw a perpetual queue. A bowl is priced at $3.50 for white rice, or $4 for brown rice. Despite the extremely affordable pricing, every bowl was still very generously topped with ingredients. The thunder tea soup is nutty, fragrant and thicc. Complete the meal with a piece or two of yong tau foo ($0.80 each)!
Address: 3A Commonwealth Dr, #01-31 Tanglin Halt Food Centre, Singapore 141001
2. Thunder Tree
At $7.80 a bowl, Thunder Tree may be one of the pricier stalls on the list. However, they do use mainly organic ingredients, and absolutely no MSG or preservatives. Portions are huge and the soup isn’t too bitter or herbaceous, making it a great option for those who prefer a lighter flavour. Don’t forget to ask for some of their chili paste if you like spicy food!
Address: 101 Upper Cross St., People's Park Centre #B1-06 Singapore 058357 Upper, Cross St, 058357
3. Ah Lock & Co
If you’re a thunder tea rice newbie, then it might be best to start off with a more modern rendition of the dish. Nestled in the basement of Guoco Tower, Ah Lock & Co does a grain bowl that combines elements of both thunder tea rice and Hakka yong tau foo. The result? A yummy bowl of goodness with handmade meatballs, stuffed tofu, fluffy rice and the quintessential thunder tea soup.
Address: 7 Wallich St, #B2 - 22 / 23 / 24, Singapore 078884
4. Sunny Choice
Run by five sisters, Sunny Choice is a vegan and vegetarian-friendly joint. Apart from nasi lemak and bibimbap, another popular item here is their thunder tea rice. At $9.50, it is the most expensive on this list, but it also has more premium ingredients. For example, fried enoki mushrooms replace ikan bilis, cashew nuts replace usual peanuts, and the thunder tea soup is made with ten ingredients instead of the usual five to seven!
Address: 434 Upper Bukit Timah Road, The Rail Mall, Singapore 678060 | Blk 630 Bukit Batok Central #01-154, Singapore 650630