Sometimes all you want is a simple, comforting, no-frills meal, the kind that brings a smile to your face the moment you see it because it is as it should be - honest, old school, unpretentious and just a tad haphazard.
I smiled to myself when I was presented a plate of dry wonton mee (from $3 a serving) from Dover Road Kai Kee Wanton Mee, a hawker stall in Alexandra Village Food Centre, last week.
My $4 plate had three wontons flopped at the side of the plate; a couple of pieces of blanched leafy vegetable strewn across the noodles; and some carelessly scattered slices of char siew.
For most, this would be far from visually arresting, but to me, it was sheer delight.
How could such a disorganised dish still be appealing?
It could for these reasons: I loved that the smooth wontons were so slippery that they had slid to the side of the plate and were now halfimmersed in sauce. I loved that I could see the grain of the lean char siew pieces that were in different shapes and sizes with requisite burnt edges. And I loved how the meat sat atop a plate of noodles that glistened in the daylight. And when I tucked in, it didn't disappoint.
DOVER ROAD KAI KEE WANTON MEE
Alexandra Village Food Centre, 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1, 01-09, open: 7am to 4pm, closed on Tuesday
Rating: 3/5 stars
The stall, which ran for more than 30 years at the now-defunct Dover Road market near Fairfield Methodist School, serves good, oldfashioned wonton mee. It moved to Alexandra Village about five years ago.
Here, it's all about the texture of the noodles and the flavour of the wonton.
The noodles, which are cooked to perfection, are springy and have bite. They are tossed in a generous amount of flavourful sauce, a gloopy mixture of chilli, lard oil, sesame oil and oyster sauce, among other things.
By lunch time, the stall often sells out its sui gao - larger minced pork and shrimp dumplings - but its wontons are just as tasty.
The minced pork filling is soft and well-seasoned and the slippery skin slithers down the throat.
The soup it comes with isn't much to shout about and neither is the char siew. But when eaten together with the noodles, wonton and delicious sauce, the dish on the whole presents a burst of flavours.
Sometimes keeping it pure and simple is best.
There's no need to mess with what works.
• Follow Rebecca Lynne Tan on Twitter @STrebeccatan