Makansutra: Egg sausage the star of Monan's pork soup
Husband-and-wife owners keep it simple and come out winners
It's around this time that we think of eating soupy, less complex meals to counter the Chinese New Year feasts we tore into last week.
Let us not forget the bak kwa and the jars of snacks and crisps that cornered us almost everywhere we went.
I came across month-old hawker stall Monan at Chinatown Complex Food Centre, run by a former F&B industry consultant who just "felt like selling this recipe" he had been working on for nine months.
Mr Chuk Kee and his Vietnamese-born wife Kim hawk a very simple pork soup in a corner stall framed with interesting and informative graphics.
A huge side wall graphic illustrates the ingredients laid out plainly above a bowl - pork ribs, belly pork, spinach, shallots, scallions, skin, offal, egg sausage and meatball.
The item that will catch your eye is the egg sausage.
This is a celebratory dish in many parts of China and Indochina. I had this at an event in Thailand years ago when a child came of age and was ordained into monkhood.
Beaten eggs with spices were piped into sausage skin and steamed, then cut into slices. Mr Chuk Kee and Ms Kim do the same here.
I tried all five items on the menu and the pork broth stood out - comprising a coherent bone broth, a pinch of salt, shallots and scallions.
The signature Monan Pork Soup ($3.80) with belly pork, lean meat, egg sausage, meatball, radish and greens, looks like a loss-leader item (a product sold at a loss to attract customers).
It is so easy to consume - no bone or wriggly offal. And if you like it even simpler, take on their Shabu Soup ($5) with egg sausage and a stack of shabu-shabu pork slices with greens.
But I have an affinity for the Pork Leg Soup ($5) because it was cooked till just before it goes all soft and floppy. I like the bite it leaves in texture - soft enough but not overly so.
The winners are the broth, egg sausage and homemade meatballs which come dense and firm, yet springy.
I suggest they offer a bowl of just egg sausage and meatballs with greens, as it'll please the kids too.
And if you're not a fan of Teochew-style peppery bak kut teh but adore ribs, then their version may please you.
This $5.80 bowl comes bold and laden with chunks of ribs, radish and meatballs. That, with a bowl of steamed rice and their very appropriate vinegar garlic chilli sauce make for a very humbling meal.
I should point out that Mr Chuk Kee is a first-time hawker and beneficiary of the Incubation Stall Programme by the National Environment Agency. He gets some subsidies for his equipment and operation advice, but that is no guarantee of success.
I think he'll make it because he is not doing anything different in this fussy hawker centre world. He's just doing it differently.
#02-137, Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Opens 10.30am to 8.30pm, closed on Tuesdays