It’s back again! Part of the Eat Drink Perth 2012 food festival run by the City of Perth for March 2012 only, What The Pho has issued their challenge. Each Wednesday during March 2012, you are presented with the challenge if you wish to accept it of downing a huge bowl of pho within 20 minutes in one sitting to receive the prize of a $50 voucher at the Vietnamese restaurant, have your photo taken to appear on the wall of fame and also receive a T-shirt. Bookings are essential.
I’m sure you’re wondering what is pho? Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup. The bowl contains piping hot broth in which very thinly sliced pieces of raw beef or chicken are added, along with Asian basil, mint leaves, and bean sprouts which cook in no time. The soup contains plenty of thickish rice noodles. If you think the bowl is quite small, here’s a comparison against an iPhone. The bowl is the height of the iPhone and very wide. The depth is large and there’s quite a lot of ingredients packed into the bowl of Pho – believe me, I saw 5 bowls of Pho and they were all the same. I cannot believe anyone could consider such a challenge. The sheer quantity is enough to feed a family! Forget the fact you have 20 minutes to eat this, I find it hard to believe anyone could eat all that in any time period within one sitting.
Well my friend, Sean, had a crack at the challenge last year and succeeded. He was one of maybe around 9 or so to complete the challenge out of over a 100 participants. This year, he decided to go again and brought along several willing workmates to add to the competition. I, on the other hand, was merely an onlooker lending moral support to cheer them all on. I preferred to enjoy my meal than wolf it down but after all that pie, I was quite full.
Well, the 5 bowls of pho were served and I think Sean undersold the enormity of the challenge to his workmates. The challenge suddenly seemed bigger than Ben Hur but they decided to give it a crack and good on them. One of the waitstaff came to our table and asked if everyone was ready to begin and hit the timer on her iPhone and the competition were away. Silence. Well little talking just lots of slurps. Plenty of squeezes of the sweet sauce bottle on the noodles to help it go down that bit easier. Lots of sweating. Remember, that Pho is piping hot.
In the mean time as I watched in amazement, I had a quick look at the menu and decided on something a lot more light. The waitstaff asked to take my order and I asked if my intended choice was as big as the bowl of Pho to which I got a big no. Thank goodness! I ordered the wok fried noodles with duck.
While I waited, I continued watching and providing words of encouragement as the challengers went wholly into the challenge. No time to pause, plenty was being eaten. I asked if the pho was enjoyable to which I got a quick “no time to enjoy it”.
After a reasonable wait, I was brought my meal. I calmly enjoyed and slowly savoured each mouthful of my meal in comparison to the chaos around me. I was feeling quite hungry by now and after the first fork full hits your mouth, you start eating quickly (not as quickly as my fellow challengers but quickly). I really enjoyed the noodles which had a lovely smoky wok flavour imparted into the noodles. There was a nice saltiness to the dish from the soy sauce and other ingredients. I spied a bit of crunchy pork fat which also contributed to the saltiness and taste. The roasted duck was delicious and the fat nicely rendered. A very enjoyable meal to which I cleaned my plate. What The Pho offers quite a different variety of Vietnamese food compared to a restaurant like To To’s but that is the nature of cuisine, you can’t get everything at one restaurant, just a taste of what that cuisine has to offer.
Meanwhile, Sean was ploughing through his pho and was cruising with 5 minutes to go. Just a small amount was left, equivalent to a small bowl of steamed rice one gets at an Asian restaurant. However, the challenge is difficult not in braving the elements, the time restriction, but the sheer quantity. Unfortunately, much to all our encouragement, Sean fell just short. Not much left there. So close, yet so far. However, I have to commend him on the effort and also the rest of the group for having a go. The group did make pretty good headway into their meals but it was an interesting experience nonetheless. I don’t think anyone wanted dessert nor wanted to see another bowl of Pho. However, Sean is considering another tilt next week. Madness!
What The Pho Food Review Summary
Verdict: Well in comparison to the chaotic consumption of pho around me in the attempt to complete the What The Pho Challenge and win a $50 voucher, I ordered wok fried noodles with duck and slowly enjoyed my meal. The smoky wok flavour imparted into the noodles adds an excellent dimension and lives up to the name of the dish. A satisfactory serving, good quantity of tender roasted duck along with the other ingredients made for an enjoyable meal. I take it the group enjoyed their pho, otherwise, they wouldn’t of ploughed on for the allotted 20 minutes.
Recommendation: Worth Trying Again
See my prior blog post:
Food Review of What The Pho – 30 Mar 2011
What The Pho Restaurant Details
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