Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Best Ramen In Orange County Again

Over time, I find myself growing less fickle when it comes to choosing what food I eat. Apart from pickles, I take great enjoyment in consuming all types of food. From fine dining and my routine favorites to late night drunken fast food runs, I've really been enjoying what I eat. So when I found out that my favorite ramen place in Orange County was holding another eating contest, I became very excited.

Shin Sen Gumi in Fountain Valley, Ca would again hold another ramen eating contest using the same rules as last time. Participants are given 45 minutes to eat a bowl of ramen and as many additional orders of ramen as they can within the time limit. They earn a t-shirt for consuming at least seven extra orders of ramen and a $50 gift card for eating the highest total. I won the contest they hosted last Thanksgiving by eating 16 additional orders of ramen in 45 minutes.

My competitive eating buddy Frank also showed up for a big meal but was oblivious to the fact that there was a contest happening. I encouraged him to do his best regardless and try to beat the highest total so far, nine additional orders. Given my past performance, I was very confident that I could beat that total and worked on eating past the record I set last time.

Just like last time, the first bowl was the best tasting. The slices of pork and ramen complemented the strong dashi taste very well. Though I was there for business and would save savoring the tasty food after I won the gift card. I poured in my glass of ice to cool down the broth and went at the noodles. Fortunately, they were ready for me this time and the chef cooked my ramen ahead of time to ensure that I had a consistent supply. He served me two orders at a time and I made quick progress.

Frank ate his ramen efficiently with a fork, but being unprepared for the contest took it's toll. We both slowed down at around 20 minutes in and I felt fullness set in around my 11th order of ramen. By this time, all the ice I've been adding to cool down the noodles had significantly diluted the taste of the delicious broth. All I could taste were the noodles now.

As it came down to the final 10 minutes, things weren't looking good for beating my record. I was only at 13 orders and would need to eat three more to match my record. It was a strange emotion I felt at that point, I was amazed that I had eaten so many last time but disappointed that I couldn't do it again. I like to think that I've made some progress since November but I couldn't muster the eating tenacity needed to get past my record, a sense of complacency overwhelmed me. Frank had also stopped eating at this point, falling one order short of winning his t-shirt.

I was done. I reluctantly finished my 15th extra order of ramen and watched time run out. I was one short of tying my past performance but at least I had won the contest. As it turns out, the extra orders of noodles weighed half a pound each so eating over 8 pounds of ramen was at least a decent meal. I felt better after walking around when they had me take some pictures. Like I could have eaten a few more orders then, but unfortunately the contest was over. They gave us some complimentary green tea ice cream after which really helped balance the taste of the meal and numb the disappointment I felt from failing to beat myself.

In the future, I hope to eventually beat my record. Even if they don't have a contest, I'd like to just order ramen and test myself against my past performance. At least the $50 gift card I won could cover all that food. They still have the best ramen in Orange County after all.

Here's video of the contest:

Shin Sen Gumi
18315 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, Ca 92708
(714) 962-8952

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