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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar and Cafe, Haymarket Chinatown

Crispy pork belly prik khing at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney

So you think you can eat chilli? You haven’t met the Do Dee Super Nova. It’s the hottest tom yum soup on the menu at Do Dee Paidang, the third branch of this buzzing Thai eatery to open in Sydney. The new Haymarket branch joins outlets in Bondi Junction and Cabramatta, reassuringly packed with hungry Thai students – always a reliable indicator of food that is cheap and tastes like home. Don’t be surprised to find a queue down the block during lunch and dinner service, an impressive sight given that Do Dee Paidang opened less than a month ago.

Do Dee Paidang Thai noodle bar in Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Hat parade at Do Dee Paidang

There’s a happy room of diners inside each time we visit. The former café has been converted into a patriotic celebration of Thailand with national flags and eight-foot-high portraits of royals adorning the walls. The waitstaff are easy to spot too, with miniature race hats in a rainbow of colours worn at a jaunty angle on their head.

Do Dee Devil tom yum spicy noodle level 2 at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
De Dee Devil tom yum spicy noodle level 2 $5.50 small

Do Dee Paidang is most famous for its noodle soup, and I can confidently assert after four visits, that they really are the highlight here. There's a whole range of noodle soups on offer, but the Do Dee section is fertile ground for chilli fiends. It starts with the Do Dee Monster at level one, a huddle of chewy vermicelli noodles with a mix of fish balls, soft pork slices, shallots and crispy fried wonton shreds. It's described as a tom yum noodle, but it's not the hot and sour soup you're thinking of - this soup is rich and spicy, salty and sweet, and more reminiscent of a liquid version of larb to my palate.

The Do Dee Tom Yum Noodle increases in heat from level one to level seven. This might sound like child's play, but we're talking Thai levels of sadism here. Each level involves half a tablespoon of chilli powder. The pain scale progresses from the Level One Monster to Level Two Devil, Level Three Lava, Level Five Volcano and the ultimate: Level Seven Super Nova. Levels four and six have been deliberately left off as the numbers are bad luck in Thai and Chinese dialects.

The level two devil whacks a punch, even for the G-man, a Thai ex-pat who takes a sip then sits back and laughs in shock at how spicy it is.

Do Dee lava tom yum spicy noodle level 3 at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
De Dee Lava tom yum spicy noodle level 3 $10 jumbo

When I order the level three lava on my next visit, our waitress stops writing, pauses and looks at me with serious wide-open eyes. "It's very spicy... Are you sure?" It's an intimidating warning, but that only makes me want it more.

You can smell the chilli as soon as it hits the table. The soup ain't dotted with chilli powder, it's stained so deeply red it's opaque. And the taste? Believe me when I tell you this stuff is stupidly hot. There's a tingle on the tongue and the back of the throat burns like crazy, but the soup is so darn tasty you really can't stop going back for more. It's not until halfway through the bowl that I realise my forehead is sweating and my glasses are fogging up. No joke. That's never happened to me before.

Thai drinks at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Thai ice milk tea, Thai ice volcano Ovaltine and Thai ice milky cordial $3.90

If you do plan on hitting the chilli, it helps to have something to put the fire out. The drinks menu is all conveniently priced at $3.90, everything from sweet Thai ice tea to an iced Ovaltine volcano (that means you score an extra scoop of Ovaltine on top) to the "Thai ice milky cordial" that's bubblegum pink and tastes like candy.

Soup stock at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Soup stock in the kitchen

There are more than two dozen types of soup noodles to choose from, with variations that include giant pork balls, king prawns and even a paleo-friendly version that skips the noodles and piles on a combination of meat instead.

Do Dee secret tom yum noodle at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Do Dee secret $12 jumbo

There's a Do Dee secret noodle soup if you're feeling adventurous, the ingredients hidden by a giant broccoli leaf on the pictorial menu with the description simply given as "is secret". I've taken the liberty of giving you a peek, but okay, the secret's out. It's awesome.

Do Dee nursery tom yum noodle without chilli at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Do Dee nursery tom yum noodle without chilli $10 jumbo 

And if you can't handle any chilli, that's cool too. There's one free of fire, humorously named the Do Dee nursery, not that they're calling you a baby or anything. Maybe not.

Apart from the Do Dee chilli series, most of the noodle soups have a mild to medium kick to them. They also offer small portions that start at $5.50 each, the size you'd probably get if you ate this in Thailand. The large size is labelled "jumbo" but would feed most elephant-sized Westerners quite happily.

Soft boil rice with prawns at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Soft boil rice with prawns $14 jumbo

The soft boil rice is a soupy mix of cooked rice with a clear and spicy stock. It's comforting without being overly heavy, and the soup has a garlicky sweetness. It comes in thirteen different variations, ranging from tender pork to fish and prawns.

Soft boil rice with prawns at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Soft boil rice with prawns 

Fresh steamed rice noodle dumplings at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Rolling up pork and peanuts inside freshly steamed rice flour dumplings

The open kitchen gives you a sneak peek of all the action too. You can watch them pouring thin circles of rice flour batter onto a tight layer of cloth stretched across a steamer. When the rice flour sheet is cooked, it's rolled up with minced pork, palm sugar and peanuts into a sweet and savoury dumpling called kao keab pak mao moo.

Kao keab pak mao moo fresh steamed rice noodle dumplings at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Kao keab pak mao moo $7

Vegetarian fresh spring rolls at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Vegetarian fresh spring roll $7.90 

You can keep things light with vegetarian fresh spring rolls - packed with bean sprouts, tofu, carrot and cucumber - although they do a deep-fried version too.

Goong pair deep fried school prawns at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Goong Pair $9.90 
Deep-fried school prawns with Thai batter

And we all know deep-fried tastes better. The goong pair delivers a tower of battered and deep-fried school prawns, so crunchy you can eat them tails and all, after a good dip in the accompanying chilli sauce of course.

Golden Siam deep fried belef loaf with king prawns at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Golden Siam $9.90 (4 pieces)
Betel leaf coated with Thai batter and king prawns

The Golden Siam is also a winner. I'm still marvelling at how they managed to batter and deep fry whole betel leaves with a king prawn. The batter is a little thick and heavy in parts but that's easily overridden with the chilli sauce and generous carpet of crushed cashews.

Barbecue pork neck at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Barbecue pork neck $11.90 

So you can start to see why I kept coming back. There's so much to explore on the menu, I ate here four times over ten days with various groups of people. The barbecue pork neck is a great little starter or side dish of protein, the thin slices of pork char-grilled and then basted with a sweet and sticky glaze.

Som tum with pickled crab at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Tum tard seafood $35.90
Som tum tray with king prawns, squid, salmon, mussels, noodles and vegetables

On my first visit we splurged on the tum tard seafood, a tray of som tum surrounded by a feast of king prawns, squid, salmon, mussels, noodles and vegetables. You choose the kind of som tum variation you prefer (we went with som tum green papaya salad with pickled crab) and then you pick your way through the salad and everything else. The freshness of the seafood was particularly impressive. The mussels were just-cooked to a lovely tenderness, the king prawns were seriously huge, and the squid had been treated with such finesse it was still soft with every bite.

Som tum mango salad at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Som tum mango salad $10.90

If you order the som tum on its own, it'll cost you about $10.90. We had the som tum mango salad on another visit, sweet and zingy with a generous amount of green mango slices pounded with dried shrimps, fish sauce, palm sugar, chilli and roasted peanuts.

Pad see ew chicken at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Pad see ew chicken $10.90

If you're looking for a meal on its own, they've got the whole gamut of flat rice noodles. The pad see ew had silky ribbons of rice noodles stir-fried with sweet soy, oyster sauce, omelette and Chinese broccoli. The deep fried wonton pad thai is next on my list: a noodle-less mash-up of golden fried wontons with tofu, egg and bean sprouts in a pad thai sauce.

Vegetarian red curry with rice at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Vegetarian red curry with rice $10.90

Curries include green, red, Penang and Massaman. The vegetarian red curry offers a hearty ensemble of snow peas, Chinese broccoli, beans, carrots, mushrooms and tofu in a spicy and sweet red curry paste.

Crispy pork belly with prik khing at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Crispy pork belly with prik khing $13.90

Carnivores will appreciate the crispy pork belly with prik khing more. There's a mountain of pork, each piece deep-fried so there are noisy crunches of crackling with each bite. It's fatty stuff but who cares, especially when it's all liberally coated in a thick caramel sauce cut through with lime leaf and chilli.

Banana flower salad with prawns at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Banana flower salad with prawns $15.90

The banana flower salad is one of my favourites too. There's a terrific balance to this dish, a turret of shredded banana flowers mixed with chicken, prawn, coriander and dried coconut in a sweet and spicy fish sauce dressing. It's sweet and salty, with fried shallots and roasted whole cashews adding a contrasting crunch.

Thai dessert counter at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Glass bowls with sweet beans, jellies and fruits at the dessert counter

And don't forget dessert. The goldfish bowls filled with cooked sweet beans, jellies and fruits beckon from the dessert counter in the kitchen.

Mixed jelly with coconut at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Mixed jelly with coconut $5.50

You'll find most of them in the mixed jelly with coconut, a treasure hunt of grass jelly, coconut jelly, fruit jelly and red ruby water chestnuts buried beneath a pile of shaved ice doused with coconut milk and sugar syrup.

Deep fried banana fritters at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Deep fried banana fritters $6 (3 pieces)

They have deep fried options too. The banana fritters are stacked up high on a wire rack, each coated in a thick batter and dusted with sesame seeds.

Deep frying donuts at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Deep frying donuts

And then there's pah tong goh, the deep fried bread sticks that are more akin to Western donuts.

Deep-fried bread stick donuts with pandan custard at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Deep-fried bread stick donuts with pandan custard $5.50 (4 pieces) 

The bread sticks are soft and fluffy on the inside, best eaten with lashings of pandan custard.

Deep-fried bread stick donuts at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Deep-fried bread stick donuts

And for the record, yes, one person has apparently ordered the Do Dee Super Nova level seven. He ate the entire bowl. Staff tell us he added more chilli.

Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar and Cafe
9/37 Ultimo Road, Haymarket
Tel: +61 (02) 8065 3827

Open 7 days 7am - 1am
BYO $2 per person (beer and wine only)

Also open at
Bondi Junction - Shop 15 Tiffany Plaza, 95 Grafton St
Cabramatta - Shop B5, BKK Building, 5-9 Freedom Plaza

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Thai - Home, Sydney
25 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/20/2014 07:29:00 pm


  • At 8/20/2014 9:45 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Your post made me drools! I really wanna try this place nowwww :) THanks for the insight, as a chilli lover myself, i would start at level 5! hehehe :) Great pics btw hehe

  • At 8/20/2014 10:31 pm, Anonymous pigflyin' said…

    i didn't realize that there are so many other great looking thai dishes other than the crazy devil noodles! I will go and do a nursery and golden siam and Kao keab pak mao moo anyday!

  • At 8/20/2014 10:41 pm, Anonymous Tania @My Kitchen Stories said…

    ONMG Helen it looks so very good. I am so excited to have another Thai to go to in the area. I can imagine your gkasses fogging up , funny. Brilliant photos Helen

  • At 8/21/2014 2:31 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    Nice to see another good Thai with such great value keeping all the other good Thais with great value honest!

  • At 8/21/2014 4:32 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    YES!!! Zingy Thai spicy spicy spicy soups are my favouriteeeeee.

  • At 8/21/2014 8:24 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    There sure is a great deal to go back for. The pork dishes and banana blossom salad, for a start. And those pork & peanut dumplings, so delicate and prrty.

  • At 8/21/2014 11:53 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    You know things are getting serious, when your lunch goes supa nova!!! Love the look of those delicious & comforting drinks, to go beside the fiery concoctions. Craving school prawns & bubblegum pink milk now :)

  • At 8/21/2014 12:01 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    That level of chilli looks incredible! It's the type of place you would take someone as a food challenge I think!

  • At 8/21/2014 6:21 pm, Blogger irene said…

    I love chilli. Making my way here soon but probs will start with the lower level first, the super nova sounds too suicidal LOL!

  • At 8/21/2014 8:00 pm, Anonymous Michael @ I'm Still Hungry said…

    This place looks SO GOOD. Choose your chilli level? Bring it on!

  • At 8/21/2014 9:55 pm, Anonymous Cindy (a foodie's joy) said…

    Ooh! I like the look of the pork belly! Yum! I couldn't help laughing reading your description of your sweat and foggy glasses! :)

  • At 8/21/2014 10:11 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Awesome! I love hot food, but sometimes find regular thai food too spicy for me - I bet I'd struggle with that noodle soup!

    The crispy pork belly looks right up my alley though! :)

  • At 8/21/2014 11:02 pm, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    Fried donuts with pandan sauce = so much win :D

  • At 8/21/2014 11:34 pm, Anonymous Padaek said…

    What a great place and the variety of food here looks delicious and you've chosen many of my favourite dishes too. Yum! The do dee spicy noodle soups look Amazing!!! Wow - what's after #7? Just joking – I'd probably pass out with my face in the chili broth - lol. Happy way to go though. :) The kao keab pak mao moo and deep-fried bread stick donuts with pandan custard look really tasty, and the som tum looks seriously good here too. Damn, all of the food here looks amazing!! I'm also quite intrigued by how the golden Siam are made..? Great post Helen. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely keep this place in mind for our next Haymarket, etc. visit. :D

  • At 8/22/2014 12:33 am, Anonymous sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    Food looks fantastic, but seriously, my teeth started to hurting thinking of tom yum chilli overload. I love my chilli but not in a S&M kinda way.

  • At 8/22/2014 1:47 pm, Blogger Cassie | Journey From Within said…

    the pork belly reminds me of the one at home thai!
    I was wondering where the bondi junction one was, but saw the address and realised it's the one above the train station, never took notice to it because it looks like a food court! :D

  • At 8/22/2014 4:57 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    I think I'd stick with the soupy rice than all that crazy chilli..! It all looks great though - especially those rice flour sheets!

  • At 8/22/2014 4:58 pm, Blogger Maddie Loves Food said…

    Wow this looks like a fabulous noodle place. I'd better stick to the chilli-free options, although the chilli noodle soups sure do look delicious too. The pan tong goh sounds delicious, thanks for uncovering such a notable new Chinatown joint!!

  • At 8/22/2014 10:39 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    I can see the flavour and freshness in every dish! Good snaps of good food!

    Gourmet Getaways

  • At 8/23/2014 9:14 am, Anonymous Eva@thehungryplum said…

    Oh wow! No really, that post is incredibly impressive. Not only because you went back 4 times over 10 days but that pretty much everything you guys tried on the menu was drool-worthy. This is going on the list fo sho.

  • At 8/23/2014 12:30 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    the food looks so delicious. good to hear that you can choose your own chilli level lol

  • At 8/24/2014 1:17 am, Blogger CQUEK said…

    all my favourites.

  • At 8/26/2014 6:50 pm, Anonymous Leona | sprinklemyday said…

    I loveee really spicy mouth thingly ass burning tom yum / thai foods lolol. Next time im sick with the flu i'll be sure to pay a visit in hoping to kill all my germs.

    Love the thought of rice soaked in soup my family does that, I thought it was only us weirdos who did that.

  • At 8/31/2014 6:18 pm, Anonymous Mr C @ The Food Diary said…

    Walked past here recently - I really need to try it, the lines must be there for a reason!

  • At 11/04/2014 2:03 am, Blogger The Jugernauts said…

    Had the level 7. Hot in, hot out. haha. Great writeup, mates thought their lunch options were ho hum. Would drop back in to check out your favourite dishes.


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