These jaunts are never initiated in the name of pleasure; there's something to do, an errand (or 50) to run, a bureaucratic formality to tend to. We pack our schedule tightly so as not to wear out our welcome at the homes of the friends who host us -- and, well, because we just really don't love KL anymore.
Meals aren't planned ahead, they're where and what we can squeeze in between stops but sometimes, as in the case of yesterday, geography and timing work out and we are able to revisit an old favorite.
Pan meen -- why oh why don't more foreigners, more visitors to Malaysia, know about this dish? If you order it "dry" -- the best way to eat it, I think -- it's a tangle of sturdy wide wheat noodles slicked with lightly sweet dark soy sauce and topped with chopped pork and slivered mushrooms and/or tree ear fungus. Daun manis, small sweet green leaves, too. The piece de resistance is deep-fried ikan bilis (tiny dried anchovies). A textural wonder that brings so much goodness to your mouth with each chopstick full -- all heightened by the green cilantro-lime-chili sambal that comes alongside.
Like most any "dry" Chinese Malaysian noodle there's a corresponding soupy version. But we like the way the dry noodles maintain their bite and chew. We take our soup, floating a couple of pieces of tofu skin wrapped around fish paste and deep-fried, on the side.
If you find yourself in KL, seek out pan meen.And ask for extra sambal. There's a good version at the wonderful Imbi market. Our favorite -- because of the fish paste, the mushrooms sliced a bit wider than usual, and the larger ikan bilis which, after a bath in the oil, come out both crispy and chewy -- is in Section 17, a 15 or so minute taxi ride from KL Sentral Stesen. Details here.