Whether you see some mysteriously giant sample food in the windows of restaurants while walking through Tokyo, or see a talent on TV eat five days’ worth of food in less than an hour, there’s no doubt that food challenges are a hugely popular thing in Japan. When so many people are concerned about eating healthy, eating in moderation, and the majority of the population are so tiny and slim, the appeal of eating vicariously by watching someone else absolutely gorge themselves makes a little more sense.
And then you wonder if you could do it, too.
Yeah, you could do that…
And then spend the rest of the night curled up into a tiny little ball of pain because you literally bit off more than you could chew, and promise yourself to leave it to the professionals next time.
But how the heck do they do it?! What’s their secret? How far can one competitive eater push the limits of absolute gluttony? Well…
This week Tokyo Survival Channel flew in Los Angeles-based Competitive Eater YouTube star Raina Huang all the way to Tokyo for a week’s worth of food fighting challenges at some of its most popular and best-kept secret food challenge restaurants. Seven food challenges in seven days in an insane attempt to eat mostly free for a week — will the food get the best of Raina, or will she show those monster courses who’s boss?
Raina will post one YouTube video for each of the seven challenges she takes on to let us in on her progress. Keep up with her here!
Challenge 1: 3kg Champion Katsudon at Katsusato Hachioji Hiraokacho (30min)
To the ooh and awe of the staff and salary men eating their lunch around her, Raina finished this massive katsudon in under 18 minutes – a little over half the allotted time. The rice was packed down for a deceptively easy-looking challenge, but Japanese rice expands in your stomach… She struggles for a moment and then tackles the rest of that bowl like a champ in record-time. She now has the privilege of leveling up to the even bigger King Katsudon challenge (about 4.5kg in size) … as long as she comes back after six months. Just another reason to come back to Japan sometime!
|Challenge Name||Champion Katsudon (3kg)|
|Challenge Description||3kg katsudon|
|Restaurant Rules||Finish 3kg of katsudon in the time limit or pay 2,700 yen|
|Restaurant Info||21-2 Hiraokacho, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo
11am – 10pm, Closed Sunday
|Nearest Station||1,484m from Hachioji Station|
|Access||Take a taxi from Hachioji Station to the restaurant. Busses are also available.|
Challenge 2: 3.5 Kanazawa Challenge Curry at Indian Curry Nakameguro (20min)
She says this is some of the best curry she’s ever had, and it’s easy to see why. The generous serving of curry sauce is served with ten varieties of toppings, all perfectly arranged in an instagram-ready plate and bursting with flavor. The rice almost gets to her again, and she finishes with roughly minute to go! Not only did she eat for free, she earned a cash prize of 20,000 yen for finishing in time (thank you!).
|Challenge Name||Challenge Curry 3.3~3.5kg|
|Challenge Time||20 min|
|Challenge Description||3.5kg curry in 20 minutes
Rolled curry roux in a stainless steel silver bowl, toppings are 2 pieces of pork cutlet, 4 pieces of fried chicken, 2 pieces of fried egg, 1 piece of hamburger, a specialty vegetable egg known as ”yasatama,” one croquette, two squid rings, two shrimp fries, three hot dog wieners, and a mountain of shredded cabbage.
|Restaurant Rules||3,000 yen if you don’t finish in the time limit.
FREE if you finish in the time limit + 20,000 yen cash prize!
|Restaurant Info||1-22-3 2F, Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Tues – Sun 11am – 10:30pm (last order 10pm)
|Nearest Station||Nakameguro Station|
|Access||Get off at Nakameguro Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line
3 minutes on foot
255m from Nakameguro Station
Challenge 3: 3.5 kg Steak Challenge at Ribera Steak House (30min)
Now here’s a challenge that really pays off! Raina polished off 3 massive steaks along with 3 big plates of rice well within the time limit. That rice is really filling, but man the steak looks good. She notes for anyone wanting to try this food challenge that you only get one plate of steak and rice at a time. The next one will come only when you finish the one in front of you! Be careful when pacing yourself.
|Challenge Name||Challenge Steak|
|Challenge Time||30 min|
|Challenge Description||3kg of steak and rice|
|Restaurant Rules||Pay 10,500 beforehand – if finish in 30 minutes, your meal’s FREE and you get a 10,000 yen CASH prize!|
|Restaurant Info||6-17-20 Shimo-Meguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 5pm – midnight
|Nearest Station||Meguro Station|
|Access||About 10 minutes by Tokyu bus from Meguro Station on the Yamanote Line.
Get on Ookayama Elementary School and get off at Meguro Fire Station
1,090m from Gakugei University Station
Challenge 4: 2kg of 16 Count Jumbo Gyoza at Ajisen Gyozabo Shibuya (30min)
These babies are advertised as gyoza, but they’re really more of a Chinese meat pie! Each weighs about a half pound, and totals about 2kg to create a hearty meal for one. Be sure to get plenty to drink, as the wrapping around the dumpling is quite thick and will make you thirsty. They’re also Ajisen’s most popular menu item and crowd pleaser! Even if you’re not up for the challenge of eating 16 of them, you can still try these tasty savory treats yourself.
|Challenge Name||Jumbo Gyoza Challenge|
|Challenge Time||30 min|
|Challenge Description||16 jumbo gyoza to finish in 30 minutes and free (2kg)
You can also get a service ticket present that can be used in the all-you-can-eat course
|Restaurant Rules||Pay up front, then if you finish in time it’s free plus the 3,500 yen free food ticket for later!|
|Restaurant Info||150-0045 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Shinsencho, 9-7 Nomoto Building 1F
Mon – Fri: 11:00am – 3:00m (L.O. 2:30pm) / 5:00 – about 12:00am (L.O. 11:30)
|Nearest Station||Keio Inokashira Line [Shinsen Station] 5 minutes on foot Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line,
Tokyu Denentoshi Line [Shibuya Station] 11 minutes on foot
JR Yamanote Line [Shibuya Station] Hachiko Exit 13 13 minutes on foot
|Access||290m from Shinsen Station|
Challenge 5: 2.5kg Mega Curry at Fujiyama Dragon Curry Akihabara
While Fujiyama Dragon Curry doesn’t host the Mega Curry as an actual challenge anymore, the Mega Curry is still there! I you want to give yourself a personal challenge, try timing yourself to finish in 20 minutes, but don’t expect it to be free when you finish. Your reward is a full stomach and the satisfaction that you can put this fantastic-looking curry away like a beast and live to tell the tale.
|Challenge Name||Mega Curry|
|Challenge Time||Take your time! It’s a regular menu item now so there’s no time limit.|
|Challenge Description||2.5kg curry with a variety of meat and toppings… including a raw egg|
|Restaurant Rules||This curry is no longer a challnge, but the ingredients and curry size is the same! Cost is 4,000 plus tax|
|Restaurant Info||2F Kogen Building,1-13 Kanda Iwamotocho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0033
Sat-Thurs: 11am – 9pm
Fri: 11am – 10pm
|Nearest Station||JR Akihabara Station|
|Access||■ JR, Eidan Subway, Tsukuba Express 2 minutes on foot from Akihabara Station
● JR: 2 minutes on foot from Showa-dori Exit
● Hibiya Line: 1 minute from Exit 5
■ 1 minute from Toei Shinjuku Line “Iwamotocho Station”
● 30 seconds from Exit A3 of Iwamotocho Station! 92m from Iwamotocho Station
Challenge 6: 3.6kg / 4 Bowl Aburasoba King Challenge (Ramen) at Kasuga Tei Kanda (40min)
Can you believe Raina finished 4 huge bowls of piping hot noodles in only 17 minutes? Completing this challenge well within the time limit left her 10,000 yen richer than when she walked in. This ramen shop is famous for competitive eaters all across Japan and usually holds their challenges in the summer months. You can choose between multiple difficulty levels for a variety of prizes—cash and others.
A good thing to note is that once you succeed in one level, you can only try more difficult ones in the future. No trying to go easier the next time!
|Challenge Name||3.6kg/4 Bowl Aburasoba King Challenge|
|Challenge Description||– Pay 2,500 yen upfront
– You sign paper to agree with challenge terms
– Finish 4 Tokumori Bowl in 40 minutes (no leaving the seat)
– If you succeed, you get 10,000 yen
|Restaurant Rules||2500 yen up front
No getting up or getting sick (30,000 yen penalty)
No help – finish everything including sauce and soup
|Restaurant Info||3-chōme-9-6 Uchikanda
Chiyoda City, Tōkyō-to 101-0047
10:30 AM – 1:00 AM
|Nearest Station||Kanda Station|
|Access||1 minute walk from Kanda Station West Exit|
Challenge 7: 4.5g Spicy Beef Ramen at Chinese Langzhou Beef Noodles (45min)
This is a ramen challenge includes 9 different types of noodles, a huge block of beef, and packs a kick! Raina struggles about 5 minutes in with the quantity and spice level (about a 6/10 on her spice scale), but finishes in a whopping 13 minutes and 45 seconds! She finished in record time and got 5 free meal tickets. This delicious monster bowl of ramen is definitely worth a try.
|Challenge Name||4.5kg Langzou Beef Rãmen (Cho-Tokumori 9 Topping Paradise Beef Noodle)|
|Challenge Time||45 min|
|Challenge Description||Cho-Tokumori 9 topping paradise Beef noodle|
|Restaurant Rules||Free if finished in Time
9,800 yen if you fail
|Restaurant Info||110-0005 Tokyo, 4-3-1 Ueno, Taito-ku
Hours: 10am – 12am
|Nearest Station||Okachimachi Station|
|Access||About 3 min or 200 m from Okachimachi Station|
Some food is just too good to take moderately.
Raina explored seven restaurants and completed seven food challenges over the course of a single week! Feel ready to spread your wings and try your hand at a little gluttony? There are plenty of places in Tokyo to try out if you feel up to it, starting with the great restaurants above.
She didn’t stop there, though. She took on an additional SIX food challenges for a total of 13 challenges and a grand total of 30kg of food in the span of seven days. See her Talk about going above and beyond for her fans, right? Think you can take her on?
Life is short — eat as much as you can!