It'd been disappointingly underwhelming first experience at the Rangoon Road outlet of famed bak kut teh joint Ng Ah Sio eons ago, but I finally get the fuss the Hubs makes about "the best pork ribs soup around".
We'd originally wanted to make a revisit to Chui Hui Lim Teochew Cuisine but they were completely packed, so we ended up at Ng Ah Sio next door; dinner fortuitously turned out to be a pretty outstanding affair.
Perhaps it was the lack of a crowd that immediately pleased us - no long waits or queues. Or perhaps it was the spiffiness of the eatery - it was a bright, cushy space, with air-conditioning! Or perhaps it was the diversified menu: I'd previously griped about the lack of variety at bak kut teh restaurants, but this Ng Ah Sio offers a bunch of local classics like mee siam, chicken rice, laksa, and breakfast staples of kaya toasts and soft-boiled eggs amongst their repertoire.
The mainstay, its Signature Spare Ribs Soup ($9.80) was fantastic; the broth was as peppery as it was rich in depth of flavour.The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and fresh - no "porky smell" here!
Undoubtedly influenced by its Jumbo affiliation with Chui Hui Lim Teochew Cuisine (their Teochew braised duck is AWESOME), the Braised Duck ($14 for 1/4) at Ng Ah Sio was sparkling fresh, tender and swimming in the most heavenly braising sauce.
The Blanched Lettuce ($5), drenched in a sesame oil-soy emulsion, and brightened by copious lashings of fried garlic bits, was simplicity at its finest.
The Mee Rebus ($7.80) was pure soul food. The gravy was thick and robust, redolent of blended nuts, dried shrimp and spices. I loved that the frills were done well too; the hard boiled egg wasn't overcooked like many other mee rebus renditions, the prawns succulent, and fried baby shrimp delightfully crunchy.
Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh
Chui Hui Lim Club
190 Keng Lee Road #01-02
Tel: 6250 4537
Open daily from 9.30am to 9.30pm