He's still the man to beat

He came, he saw, and he conquered a huge plate of chicken rice.

On Wednesday evening, personal trainer Zermatt Neo, 28, beat his own record for eating the mega chicken rice dish.

Last Saturday, he had polished off the hefty near-4kg portion of chicken rice - that's 10 servings of rice and a whole chicken - in just under 30 minutes.

The video of his gluttonous feat became an Internet hit over the past week.

But during Wednesday's Mega Chicken Rice Challenge, which took place at Xiang Ji Roasted Delights in Bukit Batok West Avenue 5, he smashed his previous time by wolfing down the dish in 25 minutes and 30 seconds.

Five other contestants also took up the challenge in a bid to beat Mr Neo's time.

"I actually feel pretty decent despite eating faster. I guess my body is accustomed to it already," said Mr Neo soon after his last spoonful.

"In my opinion, this contest is pretty successful. The crowd really loved it and they were really engaging."

With about 80 neighbourhood residents cheering them on, the contestants raced to finish their heaped portions within 40 minutes.

If they had, the $28 meal would have been free and they would also have received a $50 shopping voucher each.

However, if they had beaten Mr Neo's 29-minute record, they would have won $500 cash.

Mr Marcus Chan, 30, who is Mr Neo's friend, emerged as the champion among the five other contestants.


At the 30-minute mark, event organiser Food League Singapore changed the rules as it was clear that none of the contestants had the stomach to match Mr Neo's skills.

It was decided that whoever had the least amount of food left after 40 minutes would win a $100 shopping voucher.

Mr Chan, who had 1.8kg of food left on his plate, said: "I stopped after 20 minutes because I just couldn't do it any more. But at least I managed to eat a little less than half of it."

It was not the interior designer's first eating contest. He first met Mr Neo at the Ramen Champion's Ramen Big Eater Challenge in November 2013.

He said: "The most I can handle is 3kg so I knew that I wouldn't be able to finish the chicken rice. But I wanted to support my friend."

The only female contestant was music teacher Aikawa Nakamura (inset), 36, who came in fourth with 2.7kg of food left over.

Said Ms Nakamura: "I'm known to have a big appetite among my friends and they call me the 'Makan Queen'. When my guy friends saw the post about the challenge, they forced me to go for it."

She spent three days leading up to the contest doing nothing but eating larger portions than usual, and then resting her stomach. Even though she didn't win, she was happy to have been a part of it.

"That's one more thing crossed off my bucket list," Ms Nakamura said.


This article was first published on Feb 5, 2016.
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