[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 黄大人 资料 Sub-editor 郑大人]
Chinese cuisine has a history that is steeped in tradition, influenced by the diverse geography and available resources. Even with so many different traditions, eight stood above the rest and are classified as the Eight Cuisines of China, namely: Chuan Cuisine (Sichuan Cuisine), Cantonese Cuisine (Guangdong Cuisine), Su Cuisine (Jiangsu Cuisine), Min Cuisine (Fujian Cuisine), Zhe Cuisine (Zhejiang Cuisine), Xiang Cuisine (Hunan Cuisine), Hui Cuisine (Anhui Cuisine) and Lu Cuisine (Shandong Cuisine). As the ancient Hakkas were made up of mostly migrants that occupied more inland of Guangdong, the nomadic culture requires them to be more conscious and use basic ingredients and simple cooking methods. Hence when it comes to taste, Hakka cuisine is still very much revolved around these three food characteristics: salty, cooked and preserved.
Considered the soul and comfort food of Cantonese cuisine, some of Hakka’s mouth-watering signature dishes include the Yam Abacus, Lei Cha, Yong Tau Foo, Braised Pork with Preserved Vegetable and Drunken Chicken in Glutinous Rice Wine just to name a few. Unlike the other major dialect groups, Hakka cuisine is not as prevalent in Johor Bahru, and there are even fewer Hakka restaurants around like Ke Ren Lai to keep the traditions alive.
A sense of deja-vu will strike most patrons as the distinctive signboard “Ke Ren Lai” at their newly opened outlet at Permas Jaya (on 14 August 2016) evokes memories of a popular Mandarin children song. This is indeed music even to the ears of their regulars from Taman Pelangi and Sutera Mall outlets for having another convenient spot in the eastern part of JB to get their Hakka food cravings fixed. Though small and likely unnoticeable, Ke Ren Lai is armed with their grandma’s family recipes and serves up a decent selection of highlighted signatures of the Hakka cuisine, with a modern twist.
芝麻银鱼沙律 Salangidae Salad Sesame Dressing
中西合并的爽口沙律好开胃！这道名为芝麻银鱼沙律 (Salangidae Salad Sesame Dressing) 的经典小吃来的正是时候，「素以重口味闻名的客家菜，若能有些舒爽的前菜来唤醒味蕾可是不错的主意啊！咸香的银鱼拌着清香的包菜与芝麻酱，吃巧不吃饱，正合大人口味！」
The Salangidae Salad Sesame Dressing may not be your typical Hakka appetiser, but it is nonetheless a welcome starter for its refreshing and light savoury notes to “stimulate” our palettes for the heavy flavours ahead. Chewy Salangidae, crisp lettuce, healthy homemade dressing… what can we say? Yummylicious! What’s next?
河婆擂茶 Hakka Lei Cha Rice
到客人来用餐，不妨抽空翻阅店家精心设计的餐谱，大人就是从那儿瞧见原来擂茶也称三生汤，根据史料记载，远在宋朝时期即有擂茶了！更让人惊喜的是他们家打着「健康不加价」的口号，与一般店家做法有异，在客人来若将白米饭换成糙米饭完全不加价！「河婆擂茶 (Hakka Lei Cha Rice) 向来是大人极为推荐的日常美食，一周中常会有数天以此当午餐果腹，健脾养胃无负担啊！」
Believed to have its origins during the Song dynasty and is lauded as a healthy food with the plethora of beneficial herbs and vegetables used, this “super salad” is the best detox meal if there ever was one, and all the more so when we can opt for the healthier brown rice at no extra cost! In our case, we prefer to add in the tea broth onto the rice and mix all the ingredients to soak up some of the umami flavours from the preserved radish and dried shrimp for our fragrant bowl of goodness. You either find this Hakka Lei Cha Rice to be too bitter with its herbal overtones or love its distinctive savoury yet minty taste which suits most of us well!
大埔算盘子 Hakka Yam Abacus
No Hakka meal would be complete without Hakka Yam Abacus, arguably one of the most authentic traditional Hakka dishes and well-loved for its round shaped that represents reunion, wealth and good fortune. The dish is made by using mashed yam and tapioca rolled evenly to form the dough which is then kneaded to form abacus-bead shapes and cooked till soft and chewy together with slices of fried beancurd, shrimps, minced meat, and black fungus and garnished with spring onions. Indeed delicious and springy, this Hakka dish is best savoured with their special homemade chilli sauce.
擂茶炒饭 Lei Cha Fried Rice
近来相当受年轻饕客们青睐的擂茶炒饭 (Lei Cha Fried Rice) 巧妙地结合了两种传统饮食概念后，有了鱼与熊掌皆可兼得的新风貌。「带有擂茶独有的略涩茶香与炒饭的锅气，轻易地就勾勒出一副有菜有肉有饭的温馨画面。」
Love it or hate it, there is no denying that Lei Cha has already made quite an impression on us, so there is no prize for guessing what’s next on our table. Fried rice being popular and well-acceptable by many, this is another healthy alternative if you are not used to the traditional soup based Lei Cha. Give this a try, for the Lei Cha paste is well mixed and the rice is well-cooked, you may just fall in love with it 😉
If Lei Cha Fried Rice is still not your cup of “tea”, there’s always other appetising options ranging from Mushroom Chicken Rice, Mapo Tofu Rice, Pork Belly Egg Rice, Braised Pork Rice, Spare Ribs Rice, Chinese Sausage Fried Rice and Salangidae Garlic Rice. That’s almost one different rice dish per day that has us covered for an entire week LOL!
客家自制肉碎面 Hakka Minced Meat Noodle
偏爱面食的看官们也别以为大人不公，来人啊！快快送上客家自制肉碎面条 (Hakka Minced Meat Noodle) 让各位一饱眼福。「大人今日选择了干捞自制肉碎面，这面条嚼劲韧性颇佳，与咸香的肉碎拌在一块儿，不油不腻非常开胃！当然若看官们不喜干捞口感也可另择清汤或肉碎老鼠粉 (干捞／清汤)。」单吃面条哪能满足大人或广大饕客们啊？店家将手工面系列同样贴心地搭配上各式客家小点：酿豆腐、水饺、烧卖与虾饺，客人来的待客之道还真不赖 👍 。
The Hakka Minced Meat Noodle might look plain enough, but the preparation is the key factor to make this bowl of goodness. The noodle is cooked till al-dente and toss with minced pork before mixing with chopped spring onions and fried dumplings. Pair this with any of their ala carte dim sum items such as Stuffed Beancurd, Prawn Dumplings or Siew Mai, this good bowl of Hakka people’s favourite can turn into yours, anytime!
客家黄酒鸡套餐 Hakka Drunken Chicken Set
大人瞧瞧身边的同僚们近来日理万机，脸色不复往日神采，于是自动请缨替各位点了滋补强身的客家黄酒鸡套餐 (Hakka Drunken Chicken Set)。这道传统的客家补品向以祖传糯米、酒饼、酒曲所酿制的黄酒入味，驱寒效果显著！「客人来的黄酒鸡套餐汤汁酒味不重较温和，越喝越香甜生瘾。锅中除了有烹煮入味的鸡肉外，还加入了饱吸汤汁的煎蛋，非常下饭！」看来有大人这种朋友还不错吧？各位别太羡慕 😏
The Hakka Drunken Chicken is a “tonic” known for its nutritious value that is especially beneficial for mothers who have just given birth to replenish the nutrients needed during confinement. During the cooking process, the chicken absorbs the gravy and sweetness from the glutinous rice wine, leaving it with a sweet and fragrant smell but some people might not be able to accept the fermented wine taste. Trust us, this is super appetising and goes extremely well even with white rice on its own (but not forgetting the sides too).
胡椒猪肚汤套餐 Pork Stomach Pepper Soup Set
大人的好，当然不限于只点一道滋补圣品啊！立刻追加一套暖心暖胃的胡椒猪肚汤套餐 (Pork Stomach Pepper Soup Set) 给常说胃部不适的同僚们！「具有祛风散寒、健脾暖胃、增强食欲的胡椒猪肚汤，食疗功效不俗，尤其适合胃寒的看官们。趁热喝滋味最佳！」汤套餐系列里共有三道滋补汤品：健脾暖胃的胡椒猪肚汤、强身健体的药材鸡汤及具有补血滋阴功效的熟地补汤。经常熬夜又加班？找不到一个像大人般的好上司？好吧，快打起精神找个良辰吉日来疼疼自己、补补过劳的身子吧！
The Pork Stomach Pepper Soup (set) is another “love-hate relationship” mainstay in any decent Hakka meal mainly for its therapeutic effects to heat up body temperate, eliminate excessive air and treat weak digestive system. The chef seemed to have done an excellent job in cleaning the pork stomach without leaving any smell, which is then boiled with pepper for long hours for flavour and essence. The cloudy broth isn’t overpowered by the peppery pungency, and every mouthful indeed warmed up our tummy. If the spiciness is proving too much for your stomach to handle, there’s the milder but equally nourishing Claypot Herbal Chicken (soup set) and Steamed Chicken with Wine (set) to choose from.
蒜茸蒸辣三文鱼 & 香酒蒸鸡
Steamed Fish with Garlic Chilli & Steamed Chicken with Wine
铁不冶炼不成钢，人不养生不健康！面对一群被大人以滋补套餐深情激励而食欲大开的累人们，此刻只得再下一城又点了蒜茸蒸辣三文鱼 (Steamed Fish with Garlic Chilli) 及香酒蒸鸡 (Steamed Chicken with Wine) 。「别小看这道蒜茸蒸辣三文鱼，辣劲十足，不知不觉就会被诱多吃了几口饭！若看官们偏好浓香的酒酿食品，那么这道香酒蒸鸡一定非常合味。使用了数种纯正佳酿入味的汤汁酒味浓烈，才喝几口就立即觉得身体暖和了不少。」
If you are seriously here to savour and challenge your gastronomic limits, we dare you to go freely with the Steamed Fish with Garlic Chilli that packs some serious punches despite its innocent and plain presentation. On the other hand, go easy with the Steamed Chicken with Wine which has a much stronger wine smell and less sweet that some of us are not used to, so we are glad to fall back on the earlier Hakka Drunken Chicken set.
扣肉包 Kou Rou Bun
或许是刚刚的滋补汤头瞬间让同僚们的胃口大开，呼叫呼叫！大人要紧急加菜啊！来一份扣肉包 (Kou Rou Bun) 吧！「这馒头的滑嫩口感不俗啊！与鲜甜交织、肥而不腻的香焖五花肉及食蔬紧紧裹在一起，大人不得不说你们仨不能没有彼此啊！」大人此刻觉得客人来餐谱里那句描述扣肉包而看似挑衅的对白「问你如何招架？」所言不虚啊！失敬失敬！
Having really opened up from our earlier indulgence, we decided to make room just for one more Hakka staple that is none other than the Kou Rou Bun. One bite into the bun and pork belly, and we immediately savour the well-stewed collagen spread in our mouths. It is surprisingly not as oily as it seems and we actually enjoy both the fluffy bun and the chewy meat texture. Seriously, this dish should have made its bow much earlier argh…
桂花果冻，杏仁炖香梨 & 白果薏米腐竹
Wolfberry & Osmanthus Jelly, Almond Pear & Ginko Barley Beancurd Skin
酒足饭饱后终于安抚了各“胃”~ 就以三道沁人心脾的饭后甜品作为句点如何？从七道冷热各异的甜品中钦点了三道：桂花果冻 (Wolfberry & Osmanthus Jelly)，杏仁炖香梨 (Almond Pear) 和白果薏米腐竹 (Ginko Barley Beancurd Skin)。「老中医的叮咛不能不听，这果然是解暑甜品，大人此时觉得皮肤水嫩嫩滑溜溜！」
After such a hearty meal, the dessert trio of Wolfberry & Osmanthus Jelly, Almond Pear and Ginko Barley Beancurd Skin are very soothing for our throats and a fitting finale to a culinary journey filled with excitement and anticipation, and Ke Ren Lai most certainly did not disappoint!
Like its predecessors in Taman Pelangi and Sutera Mall, Ke Ren Lai at Permas Jaya is great for inducing nostalgia without burning a hole in our wallet, making it ideal for casual family dinners or social gatherings. Most importantly, they truly serve authentic Hakka dishes that stay true to its roots while making us feel at home.
Ke Ren Lai 客人来 － 家传菜
Address: 50, Jalan Permas 15/1, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, 81750 Johor Bahru.
Reservation: +607 – 362 1696
Time: Mon – Sun 11am – 9pm