I made my friend eat the level 7 spicy tom yum noodles at Do Dee Paidang

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

Everyone’s got that one mate who likes it hot. The one who empties the entire container of complimentary chillies into their bowl of pho and asks every staff member at a Mexican Restaurant “no seriously, what’s the spiciest hot sauce you’ve got?”. My one mate is Owie. I once emptied an entire bottle of cayenne pepper onto a sandwich I made him and he didn’t even notice the heat. I took him to Chairman Mao in Kensington, ordered the dishes that would put me in a coma and all I got was an acknowledgement, a raised eyebrow as he told me “yeah, it’s pretty spicy” before eating all the food on the table.

Do Dee Paidang, a small Thai noodle joint in Chinatown, has quickly reached a cult status for its small bowls of tom yum, which are filled with an aromatic broth, chewy rice noodles, various meats and fried egg noodles. The soups are graded from 0 – 7 on the heat scale, with each number representing the number of dried chilli scoops added to your broth. 0 is called ‘Do Dee Nursery’. Add one scoop of chilli and it’s already hot enough to warrant the name ‘Do Dee Monster’. I made it to level 3, and that bowl of ‘Do Dee Lava’ almost destroyed me. I could taste the chilli in my ears.

Level 7, containing seven scoops of dried chillies, is affectionately called ‘Do Dee Super Nova’. There was no fucking way I was going to eat a bowl of noodles named after a dead star, but I knew just the asshole who I could convince to eat it for me.

I talked it up a bit and as we looked at the menu Owie had a little bit of fear in him. “Maybe I should try a level 5 first?” he asked me. Level 5? What did I look like? Concrete Playground? This is Two-motherfucking-Thousand, motherfucker! I ordered two bowls of soup, immediately blowing the food budget offered by publications such as ours. I ordered Owie that level 7 Super Nova and got a Do Dee Nursery on the side, so Owie could try the soup in its unadulterated state (not because I’m a huge pussy).

The first spoonfuls of every spice level of tom yum are fantastic, a great mix of textures and taste. Event the first few spoonfuls of the Super Nova are ok, the other flavours allowed to exist before the chilli works its magic on your tastebuds. After 20 seconds Owie gives me that nod of acknowledgment he gave me at Chairman Mao. “Yeah, it’s pretty spicy”, but he keeps slurping away, stopping at the halfway mark to wipe the beads of sweat from his brow before taking his jacket off on what is supposedly the coldest day in Sydney’s last two decades.

I get my phone ready to record his failure but he persists, and within a minute he’s eaten all but a small pool of broth. “Drink it!” I yell, pushing the boundaries of our friendship. He does, leaving a mostly empty bowl, save for a few flecks of bright red fire powder. I give Owie a round of applause, the kind you only hear from white guys in Thai restaurants, and he stares into space. “That’s gonna burn tomorrow morning” he tells me, and I realise what a perfect epitaph that would be.

9/37 Ultimo Rd, Haymarket

Mon-Sun 11am-1am

How much
$6.90 a bowl

02 8065 3827

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