For starters, Hakka is one of the majority of Chinese dialects in Malaysia (Apart from Hokkien and Cantonese, that is). Traces its roots back to the nomadic origins of their ancestors who traveled all across China and some even migrated across the globe, contributed to their rich worldwide population today. Having regarded as visitors faction in most places or regions when they first traveled to was probably how the term/name ‘Hak’ which meant ‘Visitors’, and ‘Ka’ which meant ‘Families’ derived. To know more about Hakka and their origins, read here.
Meanwhile, similar to all other Chinese subgroups, they too have their specialty cuisines, where today we would like to share with you a place that serves one of the finest Hakka Cuisines in Klang Valley, without burning a hole in your pocket.
San Bao, opened it’s doors in Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam for years now, but many would’ve passed it as another Chinese restaurant without knowing what it’s all about. Quiet as a it may look sometimes, they have a steady stream of patrons during peak ‘meal’ hours of the day, with only one reason, their delicious Hakka cuisines.
Located few doors away from Aeon’s MaxValue, along Jalan Anggerik Vanilla Y31Y, San Bao’s single shop front is neatly renovated with a lot of wooden motives, from wooden furniture, to wall partition to the cashier counter inside. Not forgetting the walls are painted in antique beige with wood carvings and old photos hung over them.
They serve a wide variety of Hakka cuisines, ranging from ala carte dishes and individual noodles/rice options at reasonable prices.
Now what makes them even more affordable are their set meals of a bowl white rice with vegetables (based on a list of choices), a selected dish (based on their list of signature dishes) and an option of Tea, Soup of the Day or Dessert, differing by an average price of RM 2 each starting from RM 8++.
One of the sets that we ordered was the Soup Meal Set, where we chosed a Bean Braised Chicken, Mixed Vegetables that came with a Soup of the Day and bowl of White Rice. The braised chicken was something rather special, as we have never tried it at other places before, delicious as how it may look, the taste is good, along with the aromatic bean gravy over it. While the mixed vegetables is nothing to shout about, it was fresh and properly stir-fried. Not forgetting the nutritious old melon (not sure what do you call it) soup.
Next, was a Tea Meal Set, which came with 2 generously sized Hakka Yong Tau Foo with delicious gravy and chili sauce, Stir-fried Spinach, a bowl of White Rice and Black Tea (Tea Bag). The Yong Tau Foo had proper mince meat fillings and rightly cooked, especially with the delicious and aromatic gravy over it and the simple chili sauce to complement it. While the stir-fried spinach was nice, despite the fact that we requested it to not have garlic. Also, the Black Tea, that came in a form of tea bag was ok as well.
And just when you think this place is all about affordable set meals?
Hah! Here’s more goodies.
Next, we ordered their infamous Hakka Lei Cha Rice. For those who are not familiar with Hakka Cuisines, a Hakka restaurant without Lei Cha Rice is like a Thai restaurant not serving tom yum. That’s how serious it is. However, our pass experiences with Lei Cha Rice has never been impressive, not until we tried San Bao’s.
Lei Cha Rice (sometimes referred to as Ho Boh Lei Cha, where Ho Boh is one of the subgroup of Hakka in general) is an authentic Hakka Cuisine, where ‘Lei Cha’ which meant ‘Pounded Tea’ is originally a Hakka Tea-based savoury brew which consisted of mix of tea leaves (usually green tea or oo long) and herbs that are ground or pounded together with various roasted nuts, seeds, and grains, good for restorative and health in general. While the Rice, you can choose to either white rice or brown 5 grain rice, usually served with long beans, fried bean curds, eggs, peanuts, vegetables, saseme, and etc.
So how do you eat it? Well, authentically, people would just pour the entire bowl of Lei Cha into the bowl of rice, and mixed it really well before eating. But in the recent days, many would have found the Lei Cha to be rather too greenish in taste, hence, some would scoop the Lei Cha in moderate over to the rice, before mixing then eat.
Next would be another famous Hakka Dish, the Char Yuk, or Braised Pork, usually cooked with a special gravy with black fungus and serve with rice or in this case, noodles. Their Char Yuk Noodle, is one of our personal favourite, where it comes with a decent portion of thin (wan tan mee like) noodles, some lettuce, and a generous portion of Char Yuk lay over it. Also, this is complimented with a complimentary soup as well.
However, if you are not into black fungus, we would also recommend you to try their Hakka Mee/Noodle, which is pretty similar to the Char Yuk Noodle, minus the Char Yuk, but instead some braised mince meat (pork) over the noodles instead, accompanied by 2 pork balls in the soup. Which we also gives a thumbs up too.
Last but not least, there many more ‘must try’ items in the menu that you should look out for, i.e. Stir-fried Sambal Eggplant, Fried Abacus (Yam) and etc. Not forgetting their delicious Claypot Loh Shu Fan that has a strong hint of shrimps, which we had tried.
And to end the sumptuous hakka meal experience, we had also tried their 3 color Coffee (can also be Tea), which is basically consisted of coffee, with gula melaka, and milk.
So are you ready for some Hakka Cuisine?
Find them here.
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