The Twin Cities' Pioneer Press reporter John Brewer is a big guy. And he likes to eat. But he may have just met his match in the Pho King Challenge:
Pitting diners against massive bowls of the Vietnamese beef noodle soup is a regular occurrence at Saigon. The restaurant started offering the pho challenge as a means to bring back customers when it reopened at its new location last year.
The reward: Winners get their soup free and a T-shirt proclaiming, "I am the pho-king." Losers pay $15 for their soup. Of the 500 customers who have tried, only 120 have left victorious — and almost all are Asian men.
"It's like eating five or six bowls of regular pho," warned
Bui, when I sat down to take the challenge.
She then went on to explain the rules: The soup has to be finished within 45 minutes; no bathroom breaks are allowed; and getting sick at the table is instant disqualification. Oh, and by the way, the record time to date — 9 1/2 minutes — was set by an Asian guy who couldn't have weighed more than 130 pounds.
"White guys think they can finish because they're big," Bui said. "But Asians know noodles."