My Pho Challenge Experience

I used to eat a lot. To give you an idea of how much I used to eat, I would eat two foot long sandwiches from Subway in one sitting. So, in 2009, there was this new challenge at Pho Garden called the Pho Challenge. The challenge was to finish this big bowl of pho within an hour, and that big bowl of pho had 2lbs of meat and 2lbs of noodles. You didn’t have to drink the soup; You only had to eat the meat and noodles. And, if you finished it, the meal would be free, and you would get your picture placed on the wall. If you couldn’t complete the challenge, you would have to pay $22 (I think it’s more expensive now).

Anyways, I didn’t think that bowl of pho was going to be any big deal and I walked in that day thinking I was going to get a free meal. I was pretty hungry, and I didn’t eat yet that day. At that time, there were only 2 pho challenge bowls and the two people ahead of us ordered the pho challenge, but the wait was not long since they gave up after a few bites.

Here’s my photo from Pho Garden’s website before I started:

douglas mak

Me before I stopped eating pho


That bowl was freaking huge; To give you an idea of how big that bowl was, I am 6ft tall.

I started out okay, and was just pacing myself. It honestly felt like a bottomless bowl of pho. No matter how much I ate, there was still so much damn food. At some point, I started hanging all the meat along the rim of my bowl because it was just too oily. My mouth felt oily. My throat felt oily. At that point, it became difficult to swallow my food. I kept drinking water to wash down that nasty oil, but it was only making me more full.

Here are some photos that I found on facebook of me dying:

Must. Keep. Going.

Must. Keep. Going.

douglas mak pho challenge

Never. Again.


After almost an hour, I finally finished it. How did I do it? I didn’t have cash on me that day and I was not going to pay $22 for pho. I was the 3rd person ever to finish it. Honestly, it was kind of traumatic for me; I didn’t eat pho for 5 months. But if I had a chance to go back in time and do it again, I would.