A few days ago my sister told me about a meat eating competition happening at our friends’ restaurant, Sumi Sumi. It just so happened that I also wrote a review about this restaurant back in my days as a magazine writer (click here for the original review). The prize for winning: free beef for a year.

Where's the bathroom?

Of all the restaurants in Bangkok I wrote about in my two years working for Guru Magazine, Sumi Sumi definitely ranked high in my top five favourite places to go.

A small place tucked away in some obscure building in Sukhumvit soi 24, near the Emporium Shopping mall, Sumi Sumi serves up some of the best all-you-can-eat yakiniku beef B699 can buy. Their specialty is their 500-day Australian wagyu beef with a marble score of six for that perfect level of melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.

Deliciousness aside, I was only given two days to train for the eating competition. Yes, believe it or not there really are proper training methods to improve one’s eating capacity. With no expectations of winning all I wanted to do was to eat as much of the meat as possible to put up a good show. A quick search on google revealed that most competitors such as Takeru Kobayashi (that little Japanese dude that cleans up hot dogs like a vacuum cleaner) and Joey Chestnut (an American guy who consistently beat Kobayashi) would force large amounts of water into their stomachs within a short amount of time. Another method involved eating an entire head of chopped cabbage… All methods sounded disturbing and possibly lethal. I opted to just go with the water option since I didn’t want to turn into Bambi.

On the day of the competition the small narrow hallway leading to the restaurant was packed with people ready to cheer on for their meat-eating loved ones through the glass window. It looked like spectators viewing a bunch of wild animals in a zoo. For some reason all I could smell in the hallway was muscle cream. Damn. Shit just got serious. Among the competition there was a guy who even came in his own custom-made Bruce Lee jump suit. My mom and sister, who had never seen a Bruce Lee flick in their lives, commented on how he was wearing the Kill Bill costume.

Bruce Lee can be seen in the bottom left corner.

I can’t compete against Bruce friggin’ Lee, that guy’d Kung Fu his way through the meal. There was also a hefty looking Thai guy in glasses and a guy with the figure of a body builder.

There was even a film crew, photography crew and two professional Emcees there to make this whole ordeal a full-blown event. Shit was getting very serious.

Each competitor was given a charcoal grill, an unlimited supply of meat and 20 minutes to eat as much as possible. Whoever eats the most wins. Being a small restaurant the 14 contestants were divided into two groups to participate in two rounds. I was in the second.

The first round began shortly after 3pm. The crowd began cheering as the emcees made comedic comments about the insanity of putting a bunch of grown men and women into a room to stuff their faces with meat. Finally the 20 minutes came to a close with everyone counting down the last 10 seconds. Bruce Lee only managed to eat about three trays of meat. Apparently he was taking his time with the cooking process. Too “zen” for an eating competition. The majority of the competitors had eaten about four to five trays of meat. The champion of the first round was the body builder guy,(I think his name was Sanya) who had demolished a total of seven trays of meat.

Oh shit, seven trays?

I was a little disheartened. Seven trays of meat just seemed like a crapload of meat capable of demolishing one’s toilet the next morning.

At 4pm it was my turn. We all sat down at our specified tables. We all had to put our hands above our heads, this was the readying position. The smell of grilled meat from the previous round lingered slightly in the air. Watching the last round, smelling the meat and suffering from the fast that I had put myself through all morning a very serious hunger had crept up on me. Soon enough, I was no longer excited. I was friggin’ hungry.

The first few trays were amazingly delicious. The wagyu beef and the Australian lamb were fantastic. I was so hungry that the fire just wasn’t cooking the meat fast enough for me to eat. Having no time to cook the meat well-done the majority of the meat eaten was more red than brown and was mooing its way down my throat. By tray number four the tasty, fatty beef was no longer that appealing. Nausea started to kick in.

With thirty seconds left I had finished seven trays. Knowing that I couldn’t cook it and finish within the time limit I opted to just stop and settle for a tie. The crowd applauded us for our efforts. My mom and sister smiled from the glass window. I smiled back knowing that I had given it my best and miraculously tied with the body builder guy.


Only it wasn’t a tie. Turns out that Mr. Sanya only started tray number seven. He never finished it but I did. After eating 1,050 grams of meat in 20 minutes I had won a year’s supply of meat and a position as the restaurant’s ambassador.

Strangely enough, after some heart-burn medication and after the fullness had subsided I returned with friends to Sumi Sumi to begin exercising my right to free meat. It was delicious.

Back for seconds
  1. Johan says:

    You’re a BEAST!

  2. Alex West says:

    Yoooooo maaaan…. you were lucky that I was not around that day…

    (what is it with skinny people that they can eat sh*tloads of food?!?!)

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