got pho challenge

Pho Garden
2109 Clement St 
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 379-8677

PHO challenge

if you can't read it, it says...One hour time limit to complete all 2 lbs of noodles and 2 lbs combination beef (rare steak, tripe, well-done flank, brisket, soft-tendon, and beef meatballs).  Winner will take the bowl home as a trophy and a free meal.  Loser will walk away with a t-shirt.  (someone noted on yelp that including the soup and the bowl, the total weight of it all comes out to a whooping 22 lbs)

"T" and i had to fill out a waiver so that pho garden was not liable for anything that could possibly happen to us while attempting the pho challenge.  we looked up at the wall of challengers who defeated the gigantic bowl of pho, and on that wall was only one woman, with a baby sling and a newborn in it.  she happened to be the fastest eater also, about half an hour.  i believe she had an unfair advantage...breast feeding.  you KNOW that burns thousands of calories so she could probably eat a whole cow!  why couldn't i be breast feeding baby so i could become the second women to get on the wall of fame?!  i need to rethink this idea of not having children...all for the sake of competitive eating!!!  should i?!  haha!!  i digress...

my bowl arrives...HOLY CHIT! (yes i know, i said chit)

first of all, i've never done an eating competition of any type...and i certainly wasn't prepared.  my friend "T", who was going to do this competition with me, told me that competitive eaters prepare by eating lots of ice berg lettuce.  unfortunately, i was trapped indoors at my sisters because it was pouring cats and i basically tried to starve myself, except for some string cheese (i thought the protein would be good for me without being too filling).  but after awhile i was so ravenous, i broke down and ate half a sandwich and half a bag of furikake chex mix!  bad idea!  i was full and only a couple of hours away from the eating showdown!  DAMN THOSE CHEX MIX!  they were so addicting i couldn't stop myself, plus the fact i was just starving.  i obviously have no self-control when it comes to food. 

anyhow, back to the eating.  i put in tons of hoisin, sirracha and some lemon.  later on, i added some basil.  this bowl was massive and truly intimidating.  i just couldn't get enough flavor into the noodles...which i think was the thing that made this challenge very difficult.  as you all know, i am always on the search for eating GOOD food...not just mediocre food.  When i first started, it didn't taste bad at all, but with each bite, the noodles started to taste starchy and tasteless.  about 15 minutes in, i really started to feel like i was hitting a wall, but i was determined to keep going.  "T" was struggling too...and he barely put any hoisin in his bowl...he used the dipping sauce from some of the spring rolls, which tasted heavenly on the noodles!  great idea "T"!

many people would eat the noodles first because it absorbs all the soup, but i wanted to eat both noodles and beef equally, because i didn't want to be stuck eating all beef in the end.  i do believe one of my downfalls was that i didn't just go for the noodles only, because i swear to God those freaking noodles kept growing and growing! 

i was literally leaning on the bowl as if it was a porcelain god.  many of you know what i'm talking about...there have been many a night in my youth where my wild nights ended in front of one.  i also had to put my hair back so it wouldn't get in my way while i was busy slurping noodles.  let me just say...i was sweating while i was eating away! 

after 36 minutes of eating...we had to call it quits...("T" stopped before i did) i even stood up and jumped around, trying to burn a few extra calories and perhaps make some more room in my stomach.  but honestly, i could've kept eating, but it was the monotonous taste that was starting to make me want to gag.  if it tasted super amazing it would be a different story.  i felt like the quality of the noodle was subpar and that really bugged me.  i couldn't stomach it anymore.  i wanted to save my stomach for some other goodies!

i'm thinking...should i really try and finish this whole freaking bowl?!  is it really worth it?

this means...blech!  no more starchy noodles!

i actually ate about 1/3 of the food, but those dang noodles wouldn't stop replicating themselves and growing!! 

my consolation prize...a t-shirt!  which i gave to my friend mike, who graciously bought my dinner.

man...i don't think i'd ever do another pho challenge.  my friend "T" said this was his first and last time he'll ever eat pho.  haha  i felt so bad i made him a pho hater, hopefully one day he'll be open to eating pho again...just not 2 lbs of it at a time!  everyone else who joined us actually enjoyed their food, so hopefully the next time i return, i can try some of the other delicious foods they had.

i hope to try some other competitive eating challenges...but next time it'll be food that i really love and nothing that involves food in broths!  i would love to do a chicken wing or potsticker challenge! oohhhh...just thinking about it sounds so yummy!  hot sticky wings!  yum!  i think i could do some damage on either of those items...and i will definitely have to prepare myself before i try another competition. 

after my pho challenge defeat...i felt like dessert.

we stopped by mel's drive-in and i got a hot fudge sundae to end the night of eating.  not the greatest ice cream...but it was nice to have something sweet and try and get rid of the taste of bad pho. 

thanks to my friends for joining and supporting me and "T" for our PHO Challenge!  even though we did not prevail, we still had a great time!  lastly, thanks to my friend justin f. for suggesting it! 

if any of you hear of a fun eating challenge and want to try it...let me know!


  1. Hilarious D! Hey 1/3 is betta than no/3! Looked like you can take a bath in that bowl!!

  2. Candy Cunanan EstacioMarch 26, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    Was the broth good at all? Just curious. I think it would be doable if you do the noodles first. But that bowl looks scary!

  3. Thanks anonymous!!! I seriously tried to eat as much as I could! And I totally could've dived in for a bath! I was leaning on the bowl for it was fun trying.

    Candy, I guess the broth was ok, but honestly I didn't really taste it that much because I was more focused on eating as much as I could plus, I wasn't trying to waste space in my stomach with broth. Yes...its gotta be noodles first...many have should try it! No matter if you win or lose...its just hilarious.

  4. Hey Doreen! I love reading about your various food adventures and the pho challenge was hilarious. Who knew that pho would kick butt?

    Zoe P.

  5. Hi Zoe!! aww...thank you so much!! Haha...that challenge was a lot of fun and I did enjoy trying it! But hell ya...that pho pho'cked me!! Haha
    Take it easy and so glad you're enjoying my eating adventures!

    Take care!

  6. OMG that was soooo funny - how did you do that babe??? I would have collapsed in the first 15 minutes.

    Next time we can do a pizza eating challenge together!!!

  7. Haha! I had so much fun doing that!! You totally could've done it serena!

    Ooohhh yeah....we should do one at zachary's and one at little star!! Yum!!

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