Will our reporter rise or fall to this gargantuan food challenge?

All of our Japanese-language reporters enjoy the thrill of trying to down a giant-sized portion of food every now and then. Based in Kyoto, our writer Great Muromachi also has the entire Kansai region at his disposal for these gastronomic battles.

For today’s challenge, we’ll focus on one of his recent forays into Osaka to take on the Mt. Tempo chicken katsu.”

Now, if you were a restaurateur looking to name an abomination of a massively sized dish, what would you call it? Maybe the name would include a reference to Mt. Fuji or Mt. Everest to inspire greatness. However, very few people in their right mind would name it after Mt. Tempo, the second-shortest mountain in all of Japan, which we accidentally climbed last fall. Mt. Tempo is a whopping 4.53 meters (14.86 feet) tall (or short, depending how you look at it).

It certainly feels more like a hill than a mountain, and not befitting of the name of a giant food challenge. Conversely, it gives you the sense that you’d easily be able to wipe your plate clean.

▼ The summit of Mt. Tempo with a commemorative sign

▼ By the way, the sunset from Mt. Tempo Park is gorgeous.

Those were the thoughts swirling through Muromachi’s head as he marched to Akamaru Shokudo in Osaka’s Minato Ward with his head held high. “This should be a breeze,” he thought, reminiscing on all of those other giant food challenges he’d triumphed over.

Little did he know of the hell that was awaiting him.

He finally arrived on site around 7 p.m. The restaurant was bustling with a variety of people, including families and salarymen on their way home from work. It definitely felt like a place that was well-loved by the locals.

But Muromachi only had eyes for the menu. The humorously dubbed “Manga-sized meal set” for 1,270 yen (US$11.38) supposedly came with a “Mt. Tempo-sized” pile of chicken katsu and a hefty portion of rice. This was the menu item he decided to tackle. Based on its scoff-worthy description and the fact that chicken katsu was one of his all-time favorite dishes, this challenge ought to be a cinch for him, right?

Soon, something arrived from the kitchen and was placed in front of him. His vision blurred as steam billowed up seemingly out of nowhere.

All of a sudden an absolute monster of a dish materialized before his eyes. An uncountable number of chicken cutlets were stacked upon each other in a heaping pile! This must be the true form of the Mt. Tempo chicken katsu — the second-shortest mountain in all of Japan!

Apart from the startling volume of chicken, the rice was also shaped into its own small mountain. This had been the culprit that was emitting steam. It truly looked as if it were straight out of the pages of a 2-D manga. What was our 3-D reporter supposed to do?

Muromachi had heard that he could win a free t-shirt if he finished everything on his plate within 30 minutes, so he of course decided to give it a try and set the timer ticking.

His confidence certainly wasn’t at the same level as it was before seeing the food, but it wasn’t in shambles, either. He brushed aside any doubtful thoughts from his mind and concentrated on tackling the chicken katsu first.

Yep, it was good — no, really good. The meat was delicately seasoned and the fried coating delightfully crispy. Paired with the demi-glace, it was solid western food done properly in his mind. He only wished that he could have enjoyed it under normal circumstances and without the time limit.

If it were just the chicken katsu, Muromachi thought that he could definitely finish it within the time limit. However, the rice presented an added challenge.

About halfway into the challenge, he realized that something was wrong. He kept eating and eating and eating but the volume of food on his plate didn’t seem to be going down. He thought he was attacking it with all of his might but an impossibly large amount still remained.

With two-thirds of his time gone, he realized that he had taken on an opponent that he couldn’t defeat. He thought that this feeling must be akin to what wrestlers feel like just before they’re about to get pummeled.

The remaining minutes were decreasing but the chicken wasn’t. What a cruel feeling….

Finally, time was up. Muromachi apologized to himself and the food challenge gods that he couldn’t take down this formidable foe.

Luckily, the restaurant was more than sympathetic toward losers like him and allowed him to take home the leftovers for free (not a common practice in Japan).

Thus a chicken katsu bento was born. The eating challenge had been a failure, but he felt a small comfort in knowing that tomorrow’s lunch was taken care of.

And so ends the tale of Muromachi’s utter defeat at the base of the Mt. Tempo chicken katsu. But just like a Saiyan beaten to within an inch of life, he knew that this experience would only serve to make him stronger. His next large-sized food challenge would definitely result in a victory.

But for now, time to take a rest in a hot spring that he dug himself.

Restaurant information
Akamaru Shokudo / 赤丸食堂
Address: Osaka-shi, Minato-ku, Isoji 2-6-3
Open: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Closed: Wednesdays and the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month

Images: ©SoraNews24
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