Personal injury, illness and possible loss of life. Hard words to swallow, pun intended, for the gutsy entrants at the World's Hottest Sushi Roll Eating Competition, part of AZUMApalooza Asian Night Market at Soma Sushi Restaurant & Bar.
Anyone who wanted to partake in this spicy makizushi debauchery Thursday night did so at his own risk — and had to sign a waiver acknowledging such perils.
The villain was Soma sage Pascal Choi, who hatched up the roll with potent ingredients like ghost chili peppers — which until last year were recognized as the hottest capsicum on the planet by Guinness World Records — habanero peppers, Da Bomb hot sauce and wasabi oil.
Wearing a heavy-duty protective face mask, Choi was diligent to equally apply ingredients among all the rolls, smirking at what he called "hot as hell" sushi at 1.5 million Scoville heat units. That's a sensation that hits and stays with you — overnight.
Here comes the countdown — 350-plus spectators cheering on the fearless eaters. That's when Cody Risner, founder of Sofa King Furniture, stood up from his chair and swallowed each piece whole with little or no chewing. Though he claims this was his first ever eating challenge, his sensible advice was of a seasoned gorger: "Just eat that shit," he laughed. Until his face flushed, his lips swelled, his eyes reddened and sweat dripped from his forehead.
Wearing a heavy-duty protective face mask, Choi was diligent to equally apply ingredients among all the rolls, smirking at what he called "hot as hell" sushi at 1.5 million Scoville heat units.
Risner took it like champ and so did Travis Prewett, who placed second in this round.
As if the Washington Corridor needed another reason to carouse, this was a high-decibel gathering of a different kind. The global grooves of Moodafaruka rocked the al fresco street food scene while belly dancer Sahira teased with her saucy hip maneuvers.
So what if the electricity blew? The musicians kicked it up a notch so the party could go on.
The parking lot was outfitted with tents where local vendors displayed arts and crafts. Among them were Jennifer Wagner's Orange is the Sun handmade thread-wrapped leather jewelry embellished with African beads, Quilt Addiction postcards, placemats and throws, and metalwork, photography and wearable pieces. Fortune teller Sister Glow prophesied; she had this reporter's life nailed down.
Most of the action was around The Azuma Group restaurants stations as chefs cooked and flaunted their delicious goods. In high demand were Soma's beef and chicken kebabs with BBQ teriyaki grilled over charcoal, wild hog meatballs from Azuma Downtown and pork belly sliders prepared sous-vide for 24 hours and served in Chinese steamed buns with onions and carrots.
Spotted in the hungry throng were KHOU Ch. 11's Katherine Whaley, Heather Ardeel, Susan Farb Morris and David Morris, Susan and Stan Schneider, Nadia Leibovitz and Kenneth Sapire, Katherine Byrum, William Wright, Vivian Stauss, Charlie Wise, Bilvesh Patel, Julia Marantidi, Keith Eddins, Shelly Stastny, Jimmy Doran, Glory Chi, Therese Hoang, Kiesha Timmons, Jillene Liuel and Chanelle Balwant.