Different people can put away different amounts of different foods. I'm not sure why that is, but I have a cousin who could put away half a large pizza while I would lose interest after two or three slices. I always enjoyed watching Man V. Food, mainly for the travel aspect because I was often horrified at what that guy was doing to himself. I mean how often did it look like he was having a good time? As for me, I always said that if I were ever to attempt a volume-based eating challenge, it would have to be dim sum or sushi. And wouldn't you know it, we have a place in town with just such a challenge...
Superb Sushi bills itself as being "the ultimate in untraditional sushi". I would hesitate to second the ultimate part, after all it's not difficult to find non-traditional sushi nowadays, but they're probably the epitome for the concept in the Treasure Valley. Anyway, this challenge of theirs had been bouncing around in my noggin for a while now, but I didn't really want the attention. I'd never seen an eating challenge in person before so I didn't know what they like, but on television there are always waitstaff babysitting, spectators, etc. One day I realized that I could diffuse some of the awkwardness if I didn't have to go it alone. After all, I have a brother who loves sushi and spicy food, and as luck would have it Superb has a few challenges in that realm as well.
But first, a preliminary visit to test the proverbial waters. And I'll apologize for the pictures right now. This is another dimly lit eatery. I really must get a camera that handles low light better. Anyway, my mom, my bro and I headed downtown one evening to scope things out. I ordered a La Bomba Roll, the basis of the volume-based challenge, and my brother went with the Demon's Delight Roll, which forms the basis of the lesser of the three available heat challenges.
|But first, miso soup and a big-ass beer|
Both challenges require you to down a bowl of miso soup, putting a nice pool of liquid in your stomach to interact with all the rice (clever, that). Everyone at the table agreed that this was the worst miso soup that we had been served, anywhere. It was just plain watery. Still, it was free with the meal so I didn't have any conflict setting it aside. I wouldn't have the same luxury if I decided to attempt the challenge, but I'd burn that bridge when I came to it.
|Demon's Delight Roll|
So, my brother's roll consisted of tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, cream cheese, jalapeno, habanero, tobiko sauce, sriracha, and cayenne pepper, served with a side of "death sauce". I tried a bite of it, and while it pushed past the outer limits of my heat comfort zone, I was pretty impressed with it flavor-wise. I even dug the death sauce due to it's smoky flavor, though hiccups did threaten for a little while afterward. My bro polished it off with ease, so I had no doubt he could win the challenge handily.
|La Bomba Roll|
The flavors of the La Bomba roll were good, if not mind-blowing, at least partially due to the fact that there are just so damned many ingredients. Let's look at the list: two jumbo tempura shrimp, ahi, krab, avocado, unagi, cucumber, tobiko, spicy tuna, lemon sauce, sriracha and kabayaki. I'm very fond of all this stuff, even the fake crab, but when you have this much going on the end result is less than the sum of its parts. Things get lost in translation. Still, it wasn't bad. I've had much worse sushi. It's also a pound of food, but if there's one thing I can eat ungodly amounts of, it's sushi. I took down the roll with no problem. At this point my confidence was through the roof, and my brother was so unfazed that he was talking about going for the highest of the heat challenges, the Death Roll Challenge. We asked a few questions of the staff on the way out, which is when my brother was warned that the Demon's Delight roll in the challenge was NOT the same one served on the regular menu. I would think a name change or variation would serve them well here, but it's their restaurant. Still, my brother wasn't particularly worried.
Somehow when we returned, both of us were lacking in the confidence department. I was feeling self-conscious about attempting to eat four pounds of food in front of strangers, and my brother had decided to go with the entry-level heat challenge, saying that once he bested it he would tackle the next rung. I had prepared by consuming nothing but a protein bar for breakfast, followed by water and black coffee for the rest of the day. My brother had warmed up (as it were) by having a lunch of chicken liberally marinated in hot sauce, and still asked for a side of wasabi with his roll (like a boss). Mom was with us again, and our sister came along as well, though she did try to insist on sitting separate from us so as not to be involved in the spectacle. We couldn't have picked a better time to show up, there were literally only two other diners in the place. We informed the waitress of our intentions, and sat back to wait.
Customers began to trickle in as we waited for our food to be prepared, which neither I nor my sister were thrilled with, but neither of us had cause to worry. She did not announce what was going on to the other diners. Hell, she didn't even stick around to ensure that the rules were being followed, though I'm sure both she and the guys behind the counter were taking peeks at us occasionally. This is already a painfully long build-up, but I would be remiss if we didn't go over the rules of the challenges, which I will cut and paste directly from the website:
Demon's Delight Challenge Rules
Superb Sushi Challenge!
You must first consume a bowl of "Miso Soup from Hell" , which consists of:
One Tablespoon of Wasabi powder
One Tablespoon of Sriraca Sauce
One Tablespoon of "Hot Streak" Death Sauce
One Tablespoon of Cayenne Pepper
One Tablespoon of Demons Blood
One Fresh Habanero Pepper, diced
Then, you must eat the Demons Delight Roll accompanied with a side of Death Sauce infused with another fresh Habanero Pepper.
You MUST consume the entire side of Death Sauce with the roll. You will be disqualified if any Death Sauce is left over, if you drink anything during the challenge, or if you vomit.
You have 10 minutes to complete the challenge, then you must wait another 5 minutes before eating/drinking anything. During these 5 minutes, you may elect to continue to the second level of the Challenge- the "HOT STREAK" challenge!
The "HOT STREAK" challenge consists of:
2 spicy tuna hand rolls with 2 additional sides of "Hot Streak" death sauce made with the Bhut Jolokia Pepper (Ghost Pepper) and each hand roll topped with one diced Habanero each. All side sauces must be eaten! You have just 10 minutes to complete this challenge, and you must wait an additional 5 minutes before eating/drinking anything.
"HOT STREAK" winners will get the entire meal for free, their picture on the Wall of Flame, and a cool Superb Sushi tee shirt!!! (If you give up or fail any part of the challenge, you pay $20.)Now mind you, this is the first (and second, if you continue on to the second part) of the three available heat challenges. As daunting as the above sounds to me, there is actually a more insane one, but nobody in our group attempted it so I'm not going to bother going over it in what is an already bloated post. On to my much simpler challenge:
La Bomba Roll Challenge Rules
Superb Sushi Challenge!
You will then be given the first two rolls. You must eat both rolls, and both sides of asian slaw.
If you elect to order a third roll and finish it and it's side slaw, but DO NOT elect to continue, you will receive the third roll for free.
You have one hour to complete the challenge. A timer will be delivered to your table with the first two rolls, set at 55 minutes. After it rings, you have 5 more minutes to finish.
You must first consume a bowl of miso soup.
If you stop there, you will be charged for the two rolls.
Continue on to the fourth roll, and finish it along with the side slaw, and you win the challenge. If you cannot finish the fourth roll, you will receive the fourth roll for free.
If you win the challenge, you will recive your picture on the wall of fame, get a cool Tee shirt and receive your meal for free!
No bathroom breaks or vomiting-if you do you are disqualified.
I will say that the free t-shirts are pretty cool. For the heat challenges, at least. The La Bomba challenge gets you one with four sumo wrestlers on it, which is just the thing you want when you've just eaten four pounds of food, but I digress. The waitress brought out one timer for my challenge, and her phone to serve as the timer for my brother. Odd that a place with so many eating challenges involving different time limits would only have one timer on hand, but I digress again. My miso soup was actually much better this time, which sucked because this time I just picked it up and guzzled it like a beverage so I could get on with the real eating. My brother, of course, was served an entirely different type of miso soup this time around. Peep this hellbroth...
|Miso Soup From Hell|
I don't know if the flavor justifies the name, but the color certainly does. I sure as hell wouldn't put that in my body. See that angry red ring collecting around the sides? Nuh-uh, buddy. Fuck THAT. While my little brother, which is an odd way to think of someone taller than you even if he is younger, tucked into that, I turned my attention to my real opponent.
|La Bomba, x 2|
I had an hour to best the four beasts and their accompanying slaw, but as I was trying to shove this stuff into my face as quickly as possible (not an easy task with a roll where the nori is on the outside and not quite wide enough to wrap all the way around and thus hold everything together), I began to notice that my brother was going precariously slow for someone who had only ten minutes to work with. By the time he was halfway done with the soup, he already had a deer-in-headlights look on this face. By the time he finished it, he looked like someone having a bad time of their first acid trip. With only a few minutes left on his timer and a look of utter misery on his frighteningly red face, he still had this to deal with:
|The TRUE Demon's Delight|
Ain't that nice? You gotta love how they left the habanero in large slices on top of the "you must eat this or you lose" death sauce. He ate one piece and forfeited. He would later say that it wasn't the roll that did him in, it was the soup. He would assert this by taking the rest of the roll home, and finishing it off as a late night snack. He paid for this show of machismo the next day, and I'll be nice enough to spare you the gory details here. As for me...
That's the point where I was when the waitress returned to ask me if I wanted to proceed with roll #3. Since I was the only hope for our family's honor at this point, I told her to go ahead. I popped another piece of La Bomba into my gaping maw, and thought things through as I chewed. I was feeling good, but I had to be honest with myself: I wasn't hungry anymore. Though I was doing just fine at that moment, I knew that everything I had already consumed would continue to hit my stomach for a while yet. I could finish what was on my plate with no problem, and I might even be able to finish a third roll, but there was no way in hell I could take double what I had already consumed. If I quit now, I was looking at a very filling $32 sushi dinner. If I could finish the third roll then THAT roll would be free, but if I found myself hitting the wall suddenly, then I'd be out $48 before tax and tip. I asked myself if I wanted to pay fifty-plus dollars to feel like an overstuffed goose, and myself answered "No". I chased down the waitress and asked her to cancel the order.
Mom settled up the bill with her card so she could get the frequent flier miles, and I took my shell-shocked brother outside for some fresh air. The darkness of night hid our disgrace from the world. As we walked to fetch the car, my brother's face began to take on a more normal color. Lighthearted discussion of stopping for ice cream and ritual suicide was had. I guess when all is said and done, we know more about our limitations now, and that's never a bad thing, right?
As for the restaurant itself, I probably won't return anytime soon. And not because our pictures hang on a "wall of shame" or anything, which some places with eating challenges do have but which I've always thought must make it dubious for those customers to return. Honestly there is just better sushi to be had around town, and good sushi beats novelty anytime. That being said, the food's not bad, and you just may be able to win yourself a free dinner and t-shirt if you feel lucky.
Well do ya, punk?