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A dish with a legendary tale

BESIDES the Chinese who may be familiar with the Hakka Lui Char not many people from the other races even know what this dish tastes like. 

Husband-and-wife team, Wong Yoke Khan and Phan Chee Ying is about to change this. 

Owners of Merit Kitchen, Wong and Phan plan to promote this specialty dish to not only the Chinese but other races as well. 

Served as a seven-ingredient specialty – seven being the perfect number for Phan – the Hakka Lui Char is still consumed by many people who believe in its medicinal values.  

Wong showing the pride of their life, their restaurant Merit Kitchen.
“Every Hakka family has a different way of preparing the Hakka Lui Char. Ours is also very unique,” said Phan. 

Located at the border between the industrial estate in Ehsan Jaya and Desa Aman Puri, Merit Kitchen is a simple eatery, which serves home-styled cooking. 

Its Hakka Lui Char is served as a dish with a special legend, filled with good moral lessons that will benefit many. 

Phan, known to his customers as Brother Phan, traced the Hakka Lui Char to General Zhang Fei who lived during the era of the Three Kingdoms of China between 168-221 B.C. 

Phan said Zhang Fei, who served the Kingdom of Shu, was a brilliant general rather than just another warrior.  

“He once led his army to war,” said Phan, “and on their journey, Zhang Fei noticed his soldiers becoming sick and unwell to wage war against the enemies.” 

But an old and poor lady came to their rescue, giving them valuable advice that helped him overcome the problem. 

Phan takes this as a lesson, saying it showed that although the younger generation of today may be as impatient as Zhang Fei, they have to learn to respect the older generation and listen to their advice.  

“Although Zhang Fei was a successful general, he would have lost many of his soldiers to the elements of nature if not for the advice of the old lady,” said Phan. 

On patriotism, Phan said the legend showed that despite being poor and old, the lady was still of great use to her country.  

A set of Hakka Lui Char costs only RM4.80.
“All of us have a special role to play, unique to our calling,” said Phan. 

The secret to the soldiers' recovery was Lui Char - the special herbal soup made of minced vegetables, groundnuts and sesame seeds - fed to them. 

“The Lui Char helped the soldiers regain their strength and became well again as the ingredients have special supplements that helped increase our energy levels,” he said. 

Phan's wife Wong also has a nickname among the regular customers. They called her Sister Wong or Auntie Wong.  

“A lot more people nowadays look for home-cooked food,” said Wong. 

“We do home-styled cooking and to us what is important is taste and economically priced dishes,” she said. 

Hakka Lui Char is only served from Mondays to Saturdays while on Sundays Phan and Wong take a break from making the dish. 


  • MERIT KITCHEN, 5 Jalan Satu, Perindustrian Ehsan Jaya, Kepong, KL (Tel: 012-3636240). Business Hours: Mon-Sat, lunch (10.30am-3pm); dinner (6pm-10pm). Sundays, dinner only (6pm-10pm). 



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