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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 noodles 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 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 6am - 12 midnight
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

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


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Seven of Melbourne's best cafes

Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne

If coffee is your drug of choice, Melbourne will have you wired in no time. There are so many great cafes spread throughout the city you're spoilt for choice, and while Sydney's coffee playground tends to be dominated by a handful of major players, there's an enviable proliferation of small but successful roasters down south.

This isn't a definitive list of Melbourne's best cafes, but it's a head start on where you can get your next caffeine fix, whether you prefer a shot or a pour over.


Patricia Coffee Brewers

Entrance to Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne
The hidden entrance to Patricia Coffee Brewers

Finding Patricia Coffee Brewers is half the challenge, but keep an eye out for young hipsters sipping coffee while sitting on milk crates and you're almost there. The entrance is a sharp right off Little William Street, the doorway facing a row of commercial rubbish bins.

Coffee counter at Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne
Coffee counter at Patricia Coffee Brewers, with a brogue shoe of course

There are no seats inside Patricia (hence the people sitting in the alleyway outside) but there's a European sense of charm about the place with its white tiles, marble counter-tops and deep stained timbers. The sharp looking brogue sitting at the counter blends in like it's part of the scenery. Make sure you look up at the ceiling too, for a little neon-tubed sunshine.

Short black coffee at Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne
Short black coffee $3.70

The coffee menu is deliberately short and sweet. There are only three options: black, white or filter, using beans sourced from Seven Seeds, Market Lane and Proud Mary. A complimentary glass of sparkling water is a lovely touch.


Market Lane Coffee

Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne

Market Lane Coffee is one of the bigger cafes in Melbourne, with four outlets dotted around the city. The Carlton branch is tiny, with most people placing orders directly through the window. If you do venture inside, there's a narrow corridor just outside the shop to stand-up and have your coffee.

Illimani Espresso coffee beans at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne
Illimani Espresso coffee beans

Market Lane source their own beans direct from the farm, and have a particular focus on beans from east African and Latin America. These are lightly roasted, making them ideal for filter coffees and pour overs. They also do darker roasts that suit espresso machines and stove top coffee makers.

Pour over coffee at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne
Making a pour over

Their distinctive uniform of long grey aprons over blue shirts are so hip it hurts, but the staff always seem genuinely excited about each cup of coffee they make.

Juan Ticona pour over coffee at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne
Juan Ticona pour over 

They take their pour overs seriously, using scales and times to get the perfect brew. Printed tasting notes earn bonus points too.

Coffee cup quote at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne


Hardware Societe

Outdoor seating at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Outdoor seating at Hardware Societe

At Hardware Societe, they use the Daddy's Girl blend by Padre coffee. The milk comes from St David Dairy in Fitzroy, a small batch micro-dairy using milk from Victorian farms.

Fried brioche with creme Catalan curd at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Fried brioche $18
Creme Catalan curd, fresh berries and sweet migas

There's as much of an emphasis on the food as the coffee here. The cafe gets ridiculously busy, especially on weekends. The menu has some lighter options, like bircher muesli ($13) and a Continental breakfast of granola with yoghurt, fruit and a croissant ($16) but much of it is unapologetically rich, like the fried brioche ($18) that comes with a rich and eggy Catalan curd. At lunch the weekday menu clicks over to hearty renditions of twice cooked pork belly ($21) and confit duck ($21).

Double shot flat white coffee at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Double shot flat white $4

In addition to the usual espresso mix, you can order cold drips ($4.50) and Clover coffee ($5). 

Clover coffee maker at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Clover coffee maker

Catalan custard inside the fried brioche at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Catalan custard inside the fried brioche


Proud Mary

Entrance to Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne

You have to get off the main drag of Smith Street to find Proud Mary, nestled in the side streets of Collingwood.

Six-group customised Synesso espresso machine at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Six-group customised Synesso Hydra espresso machine

Taking pride of place behind the counter is their custom-made beast of an espresso machine, two three-group Synessos that have been melded together to create one helluva coffee engine. The gleaming chrome finish is flawless. It's the only six-group Synesso in the world.

Macchiato at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Macchiato $3.50

The macchiato comes in a double-walled espresso glass with measurements on the side. They do every kind of filter coffee here too, including pour overs, syphon, Aeropress and cold drip.

V60 pour over vessels at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
V60 pour over vessels

There are tables littered throughout the cafe, but if you pull up a stool at the counter, you get to enjoy a free pour over show as you sip your coffee.

Making V60 pour over coffee at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Stirring the wet coffee grounds 

Making V60 pour over coffee at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Adding the final stage of water

If you want a little Proud Mary to take home, they have an impressive selection of beans too, sorted into blends, espresso or filter. Many of them will have have been freshly roasted in the last couple of days.

Macchiato at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne


Dukes Coffee Roasters

Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne

You could easily walk past Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, based at the bottom of Ross House.

La Marzocco espresso machine at Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne
La Marzocco espresso machine

The narrow cafe has limited seating but there's still a sense of space in here. Reclaimed timber runs the length of the coffee counter with recycled tiles used on the floor. A La Marzocco espresso machine sits bright and shiny on the counter.

Short black at Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Short black 

Dukes roast their own coffee, buying from individual farms or small cooperatives. Their roastery is based in Collingwood, with beans available in either espresso or filter roasts.

Coffee bar counter at Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Coffee bar counter


The League of Honest Coffee

The League of Honest Coffee by Padre, Melbourne

I'd like to imagine The League of Honest Coffee is really the cover for a group of caffeine-fuelled superheroes but given the number of customers that flock here each morning, maybe that's not too far from the truth anyway.

Padre Coffee beans at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Filter coffee beans by Padre Coffee

The League of Honest Coffee is one of four cafes run by Padre Coffee, a roastery that originally started as the Brunswick East Project. They still roast all their coffee beans in Brunswick with a lighter roast available for filter coffees.

Clover coffee machine at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Clover coffee machine

They're been quietly collecting Clover machines too, an automated digitally programmable drip coffee machine that brews coffee one cup at a time. It means that variables can be adjusted with scientific precision and leads to consistency once the ideal parameters have been set.

Extracting coffee from the Clover at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Extracting coffee from the Clover

There are only 11 Clovers in Australia and Padre now has seven of them. Supply has diminished ever since Starbucks bought the company in 2008 with exclusive rights to all subsequent production and programming software.

Ethiopian Clover coffee at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Ethiopian Clover coffee served in an American-style diner mug

Inside The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne


St Ali 

St Ali in South Melbourne

On the other side of the Yarra is St Ali, hidden in a massive warehouse among the back streets of South Melbourne. Started up in 2005 by Mark Dundon in 2005, the business was sold to Salvatore Malatesta in 2008. A second cafe, St Ali North, opened in North Carlton in 2012.

Entrance to St Ali in South Melbourne
Entrance to St Ali in South Melbourne

Seating inside St Ali in South Melbourne
Seating inside St Ali

The cafe is huge, with a series of nooks and crannies holding an eclectic mix of chairs and tables.

Coffee shot brewed on the espresso machine at St Ali in South Melbourne
Coffee shot $6

The dine-in coffee menu branches out into an extended remix of caffeine hits. It includes tracks like the St Ali tasting plate of brews ($18), Espresso 3 ways ($11) and the iced coffee shot ($6.50) which adds ice to a double strength shot of coffee.

The coffee shot is worth a look too, a filter brew that has the body and flavour of a pour over but ingeniously brewed on an espresso machine.

The Elvis Jelly-Jam on Dr Marty's crumpets at St Ali in South Melbourne
The Elvis Jelly-Jam $16
Dr Marty's crumpet stack with whipped peanut butter, jelly and chocolate

There's a whimsical sense of humour in the food menu as well. Confit duck salad becomes A Box of Quackers ($19), slow roasted Middle Eastern spiced lamb shoulder is rebadged as My Mutton-in-Law ($19) and Fat Tuesday marries Pepe Saya buttermilk pancakes with lemon curd creme fraiche.

The Elvis Jelly-Jam on Dr Marty's crumpets at St Ali in South Melbourne

But how could you go past the Elvis Jelly-Jam? It's a pair of handmade Dr Marty crumpets garnished with dollops of raspberry jelly, chocolate sauce drizzles and puddles of whipped peanut butter. Coffee and crumpets never tasted so good.



Dukes Coffee Roasters
247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
No telephone
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 4.30pm and Saturday 9am - 5pm
Also open at Windsor, Docklands and Collingwood
Dukes Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Street, Melboure
Tel: +61 (03) 9078 5992
Open Monday to Friday 7.30am - 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am - 2.30pm
The Hardware Société on Urbanspoon

Market Lane Coffee
176 Faraday Street, Carlton, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9804 7434
Open Monday to Saturday 7am - 4pm and Sunday 8am - 4pm
Also open at Prahran Market, Queen Vic Market and Therry Street
Market Lane Coffee Pop-Up Store on Urbanspoon

Patricia Coffee Brewers
495-495 Little Bourke Street (corner Little Bourke and Little William Street), Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9642 2237
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 4pm
Patricia Coffee Brewers on Urbanspoon

Proud Mary 
172 Oxford Street, Collingwood, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9417 5930
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 4pm and Saturday to Sunday 8am - 4pm
Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

St Ali
12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9686 2990
Open daily 7am - 6pm
Also open at Carlton North
St Ali on Urbanspoon

The League of Honest Coffee by Padre Coffee
8 Exploration Lane, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9654 0169
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 5pm and Saturday 8am - 3pm
Also open at Brunswick East, South Melbourne Market and Queen Victoria Market
The League of Honest Coffee on Urbanspoon


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Melbourne - The Town Mouse, Carlton

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/17/2014 01:23:00 am



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