Did you know that Tikka Masala is not a traditional Indian dish, but rather one that was created when Indians first moved to the UK? Here, we have previously covered one such similar dish, that being Bak Kut Teh, which was invented when Chinese workers migrated to port Klang in the hay day. Today, it’s one similar dish that just so happens to one of my many guilty pleasures.
While the origin of chilli pan mee is hazy at best, the tastes of the locals never change. Ask enough of them, and sooner or later they’ll point you towards one of the hidden food gems. Which was what I did, leading me to one of the ‘OG’ outlets that literally specialize in serving this dish.
Located a short distance away (about 25 minutes walk) from the heart of the city (if one takes KLCC as the center point), Kin Kin lies on a small street with ancient car and motorcycle repair shops for neighbors. Unassuming upon first glance, and with the office lunch hours already over, the restaurant was literally empty.
My dry Pan-Mee craving would not be denied, and so my curiosity pulled my two feet through the two doors. Just as I take my seat, a crowd of middle-aged Singaporeans enter, and my suspicions turned into anticipation.
Cost: RM 8.00 per medium sized portion
What to expect:
Pork mince? Check.
Dried anchovies? Check.
Poached egg? Check.
Dried shrimp and spring onions? Check.
Complimentary bowl of spinach soup? Check.
There’s the dried chilli in a little tub on the table, the magnus opum of the dish. With the unmistakable fragrance of fried onion and shrimp in addition to the chilli, I heap a spoonful onto my noodles. With the edge of my chopstick, I prod the poached egg which pops like a pináta, drenching the noodles in egg yolk. Time to mix, mix, swirl.
The ingredients blitzed together, the dish is now coated in a light shade of red, all of the ingredients literally glued by the egg yolk, ready to be consumed to fuel my next workout.
The taste of fried onions and minced pork hits my tongue and pampers it in a wave of umami. The spring onion adds a nice, refreshing sharpness to the dish, and the saltiness from the dried anchovies only glorify the taste further. That’s when the deep, intense warm burn from the dried chilli bursts onto the stage that is my tongue, and that moment is made literal ecstasy. I thought I knew dry chilli Pan-Màààààee, but something about the way they make it here stands out from the multitude of dry chilli Pan-Mee dishes that litter the city. The dry chilli here was just…something else.
It got me ordering a second bowl in no time.
Pan-Mee translates to flat noodles, which is literally a description of the noodles used in the original dish.
The original Pan-Mee is actually different from what is showcased here today, with the noodles being flatter and wider, akin to Fazzoletti. The original dish is served in a broth with the same ingredients, making for a very filling meal; although an extremely spicy version of this dish exists and goes by the name of ma-la pan-mee.
The dry Pan-Mee is a different way in which the dish is served. While the ingredients remain same as the dish featured in this article, this one does not come with the fragrant chilli and is served with a dose of soy-sauce instead.
The featured dry chilli Pan-Mee rose to popularity in the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s and is a relatively new iteration of the beloved Pan-Mee. Even though the noodles used are vastly different from the original dish, it still is much loved by locals alike. Just like its other cousins, this is a dish that’s here to stay.