Recently I took part in my first eating competition. Seeing one within a reasonable commute made it impossible to resist. I didn’t know what to expect. This would be different to the normal challenge against just food, I was up against others now.
There were 3 rounds covering the 3 broad categories of challenges; an eating triathlon:
- Speed: 15 dumplings- top two from each table would go on to the next round.
- Quantity: bowls of noodles- who could eat the most bowls of noodles in 3 minutes, top 3 would go on to the final round.
- Spice: fish fillet in chilli sauce- fastest to finish would be the ultimate winner.
I was on the first table to start. All manners were set aside, this was a task for bare hands. Never having done speed eating before, I was quite pleased with a time of 35 seconds. However, others demonstrated their own prowess. The bar was set high early on, with Hungry Ronin making 15 dumplings disappear in 13 seconds. Still, I was on to the next round.
The noodle round was initially meant to be 15 minutes, but it was reduced to 3. I think the amount they had would not have lasted that long with the 10 of us in this round. During the challenge, coming up to the 3 minute mark, I was glad the time was reduced. After the Pho challenge, where the broth made noodles go down quickly, I did not expect much trouble with the noodles. However, they were difficult to get through. Water was there to save the day. On to the next round.
The spice round. I heard the food was renowned to be spicy, so I prepared for the worst. What I was not expecting though was the size of the dish that was served. An intimidating bowl of soup, filled to the brim with chillies, fish and tofu. The deep red colour and floating chillies suggested that this was not a dish to be messed with. Whilst not a large amount by itself, after 2 rounds of food the stomach was starting to fill up. But, this was the final stretch. Once the timer started, I was off. To my surprise the greatest difficulty was not the spice, but the temperature of the dish itself. The meal did not have enough time to cool to reasonably. It was time to adjust tactics. After every bite I would sip the cold water to even out the temperature. The next difficulty was the tofu. It was pretty hard to fish out with chopsticks, making keeping a constant pace difficult.
Overall, this was a lot of food and a lot of fun. I learnt a valuable lesson, water is a great ally; got to test myself against others, meet new people, and enjoy some interesting food. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for other competitions taking place nearby. Who knows, maybe they will make it an annual event or do future dumpling competitions like the gyoza competitions they have in the US *hint hint*…
Shout out to everyone that took part and to Hungry Ronin for leaving everyone in awe with the dumpling disappearance act.
Special thanks to:
- LSE CDS for organising the event and letting me take part
- Old Street Chinese Restaurant for hosting the event and providing all of the great food.
Old Street Chinese Restaurant
184-186 Old Street
Finally got the chance to claim my prize of a budget at this place. I was left very happy with their hot pot, which is their speciality. Check out my experience below: