A food challenge
Most recently I happened upon a video of a Japanese competitive eater eating 8 specially
large-sized servings of Oily Soba (abura soba), which in total weighed 7.2kg. The person had a time limit of 80 minutes, and if successful, he would receive 30,000 yen after paying an applicant fee of 4,500 yen. The competitor in the video not only finished the challenge, but also managed to achieve it in around 25 minutes. Inspired by his seemingly effortless and marvelous feat, I was inspired to do the same and try my hand at winning some coveted cash while enjoying some noodles.
The restaurant, which holds this challenge, is called Kasugatei Abura Soba, and they have held it
every year since 2014. It seems to be a popular restaurant, and there is also one branch very close to the Shinjuku School. I have always walked by and wanted to try this restaurant, because I usually saw a line of (male) customers outside and I hadn’t tried Abura Soba before. So this challenge seemed like a good excuse to give it a go.
I went to a branch in Gotanda with my eager friend, with much promise and positivity on our minds and cash sparkling in our eyes and hearts. We peeked inside the shop and asked the staff what portions we would be dealing with. There are different levels of the challenge contenders can try. The easiest or lowest level one can do is the 3-bowl challenge, where you have 30 minutes to finish them all and you can win 5000 yen (with a 2000 yen applicant fee). I opted for this one after seeing the monster of a bowl we would be dealing with placed before my friend. He, being a bigger fellow, chose the 4-bowl challenge, where he had 40 minutes to possibly win 10,000 yen upon completion.
He managed to keep a steady pace for the first bowl, but halfway during the second bowl, he
faltered. He was struggling to even put a strand of the fat-soaked noodles into his mouth, and when the third bowl came, he stopped in his tracks. He managed to get in one or two strands before politely telling the ramen staff member he was giving up. I decided I couldn’t let my comrade down after seeing him fail, with defeat and sadness in his eyes while looking at the almost untouched bowl of noodles. It was my turn.
At first, when the bowl was placed before me, I was excited. The staff recommended mixing the noodles evenly since they are still hot and this helps cool them down. The fatty taste of the sauce coating the noodles made it easy to eat. But as I got to the second and third bowl, I realized the sheer effort it was to keep everything down. It got sickening and tasteless the more you ate it. I was on my last bowl with only 10 minutes remaining. The prize money was on the horizon. However, I was ultimately beaten by the volume and stopped eating, all while watching the stopwatch until it hit zero. Defeat.
happen upon (phr. v) – to find unexpectedly
try one’s hand (idiom) – to attempt to do something; to give something a try
feat (n) – an achievement that requires great courage, skill, or strength
coveted (adj.) – desired, in demand
falter (v) – to hesitate in purpose or action; to lose strength or speed
to stop in one’s tracks (idiom) – to stop someone or something suddenly and completely