Taste Pho & Noodle House, located at 3117 SW 34th St., will host its second annual pho-eating contest today at 7 p.m.
Hung Nguyen, the owner and operator of Taste, came up with the idea after some friends suggested it to him.
“I thought it would be fun (to) start a tradition here in Gainesville,” Nguyen said.
Pho, a traditional Vietnamese soup dish consisting of rice noodles, broth, herbs and meat, typically beef or chicken, is popular among university students, with several restaurants around town devoted to the dish. Taste is one of them.
Debbie Diep, a UF psychology junior, said she goes to Taste for its convenience and delicious food.
“I love the variety of Vietnamese food… along with the great atmosphere the restaurant brings,” she said.
The pho-eating contest at Taste is composed of two rounds. The first is qualifiers.
Participants pay $20 for two bowls of pho and have 15 minutes to finish both.
Nguyen said 12 people have attempted the challenge. The fastest amount of time recorded as of Tuesday night is 2 minutes, 48 seconds.
The six contestants to finish the two bowls in the shortest amount of time will compete at the final showdown, which is taking place today.
Contestants will have 15 minutes to eat as many bowls of pho as they can. The person who eats the most will take home the grand prize of $300. The second-place winner will receive a $150 Taste gift card, and the third-place winner will receive a $50 gas card.
Last year’s winner ate 5 pounds, 1 ounce of food, and the runner-up ate 4 pounds, 8 ounces, Nguyen said.
“I hope this year (a) contestant will beat that number,” he said.
Last year, the restaurant was packed as students and community members gathered to watch the competition. Nguyen said he expects it to be even more crowded this time around.
“People should come out to the pho contest for a good time and cheer on their friends,” said Nhi Huynh, a Taste employee and UF health education and behavior junior. “Events like this bring the community together.”