Japanese food is often praised for its sophistication. Anyone who’s ever sat down to a four-hour, 14-course kaiseki knows that the rituals and traditions are about as far removed from Burger King as it’s possible to be. That said, Japan’s food culture isn’t all about solemnly contemplating a tiny sliver of raw eel. There are also opportunities to go completely nuts.
Buried deep in the neon jungle of Tokyo, one restaurant offers diners the chance to properly put their appetites through their paces. A metaphorically long way from nearby three Michelin-starred Kagurazaka Ishikawa, Kagurazaka Hanten throws fine dining sensibility out of the window, instead delivering one of the biggest dumplings anywhere on earth. For fans of gyoza, it’s a must-visit.
Watch someone take on the challenge here:
To successfully complete the challenge, customers must demolish a single humongous gyoza - equivalent to around 100 regular-sized dumplings - in an hour or less, without once leaving the table. The dumpling in question weighs a whopping 2.5 kilos and comes stuffed with a mixture of pork mince and chive.
Check out our incredible recipe for Big Mac Gyoza:
If the awesome sight of a pillow-sized pastry proves too intimidating, participants can also opt to eat 100 ordinary-sized gyozas instead - although there’s no doubt which version looks more impressive on Instagram.
Incredibly, this challenge has been running for over 45 years, claiming many victims in the process. Recently, the restaurant has also introduced similar, slightly more cost-effective fried rice and jumbo ramen challenges, so there’s plenty to suit every palate.
To participate in the gyoza challenge will set you back around 9,600 Yen - about $91 USD. Successful competitors will receive the meal for free as well as a spot on the intimidatingly sparse wall of fame.
It might be a little more civilised than an endless bucket of buffalo wings, but there’s no doubt that the Kagurazaka Hanten dumpling challenge is right up there with the toughest eating contests going.