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Tony Roma’s Man vs Ribs Hawaii Challenge

I was in the Waikiki Tony Roma’s a few weeks ago picking up a takeout order of ribs for my birthday (took it the beach). Where up on the front wall just as you enter was this “Man vs Ribs Hawaii” poster.

Here’s the transcription:

20 Bones Baby Back Ribs
20 Bones St. Louis Ribs
1 Full Onion Loaf
$96 or FREE!

You have 25 minutes to finish.
*Meal is FREE if entire plate is eaten within time limit.
(rib bones must be clean, with no excess meat)
*If you do not succeed, meal must be paid in full.
This is a one person challenge… GOOD LUCK!

Challenge available in Hawaii only.

That sounds absolutely insane! As far as I’m concerned, I’d NEVER be able to do that. Think you could?

Well, I spoke with Joe, one of the managers at the Waikiki restaurant, who said a number of guys (including a 17 year old) have actually won the challenge. Not surprisingly, most of whom were “really skinny fellahz”. Which reminds me of Joey Chestnut and Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi, also both skinny guys who won the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

While there’s now a handful of Tony Roma’s Man vs Ribs winners, Joe said there were indeed more “losers” who ended up having to fork out the $96 for the unfinished “meal”… or what I would more aptly call “Edible Torture”.

I asked him if the 25 minute time limit was too short, being you’d have to eat at least 2 ribs per minute if you do the math. Which he said actually time wasn’t the issue, as the challengers get through the ribs pretty quickly, being a good portion of its bulk are bones.

The ones who didn’t finish usually couldn’t down the last few ribs, being too full at the very end point. Oh man, so close to winning, yet no can!

He also noted most challengers start by downing the Onion Loaf first, then go through the ribs. I can just hear that “40 Rib Countdown” now.

Accordingly, a typical full rack of Tony Roma’s Ribs has 12 bones. However if you look it up online, others say most typical pork baby backs served commercially have 16 ribs. Whatever the  case, essentially this challenge is about 3-1/3 full racks of Tony Roma’s Ribs + an entire onion loaf in 25 minutes.

The Man vs. Ribs Hawaii challenge is (obviously) being offered exclusively at Tony Roma’s Hawaii restaurants only,  located in Aiea (Westridge Center, Ewa-bound, across from Pearlridge) and Waikiki (corner of Kalakaua Ave. and Pau Street). It began in September of 2013, and as long as it remains popular, will continue indefinitely, according to management.

Well, I’d like to see Man vs Food’s Adam Richman return to Waikiki and take on Tony Roma’s Man vs Ribs Hawaii challenge. Except, knowing guys here have successfully done it, I suggested to Joe that they add more stuff to the Man vs Food-meets-Man vs Ribs Hawaii challenge “special edition”. Like not just the Onion Loaf, but ALL the sides that usually go with their ribs, including the fully loaded baked potato, rice, corn on the cob, baked beans, cole slaw and dinner roll.

So come on Adam, come back to Waikiki with your Man vs Food crew and bring on the Ribs, baby!

Speaking of which, here’s that Tony Roma’s full rack of Original Baby Back Ribs I ordered for takeout…

For about $30, you get the full rack (12 bones, cut in half), complimentary dinner roll(s), plus your choice of starch and one other side. While normally I get their awesome baked beans as my side when dining in, for takeout I opted for the easy-to-tote corn on the cob…

Here’s all the condiments they packed for my favorite “fully loaded” baked potato and the corn…

And how was the ribs? Freekin’ awesome! If I’m going to eat meat, THIS is what you call good eats on-the-bones meat! I LOVE Tony Roma’s! By far my favorite baby back ribs, mainly because I love their original tomato-based, sweet ‘n tangy BBQ sauce. The best!

Tony’s “BBR’s” are consistently fall-off-the-bones tender, while still having some “chew”. Then there’s that super tasty ‘n smokey “papa’a” seared caramelized edges from the flamin’ hot grill applied to the generously coated sauce. Man, that’s makin’ me hungry again just thinkin’ ’bout it!

Even better yet when you combine that BBQ goodness with the negative ions coming from the salt water spray from the beautiful Hawaii ocean. LOVE that! A well deserved “treat” for my BD.

For more information, please visit:
TonyRomas.com/Honolulu-Waikiki (on Yelp)
TonyRomas.com/Aiea-Pearlridge (on Yelp)

P.S. Knowing how much us Hawaii folks love to “grind”, it’s rather odd how uncommon eating challenges are offered at restaurants in the islands. The Tony Roma’s “Man vs Ribs” challenge is the first one I’ve come across in a while.

It would be fun (and ono for sure!) to have an eating challenge with say, Hawaiian food.

Highway Inn Laulau Super Combo

Here’s my proposal for any popular Hawaiian food restaurant to consider:

Man vs Luau Challenge
1 Pua’a Laulau (1.5 lb.)
1 Bowl Kalua Pua’a (1.5 lb.)
4 Pipi Kaula Ribs (1 lb)
1 Bowl Squid Luau (16 oz.)
1 Bowl Chicken Long Rice (16 oz.)
1 Bowl Lomi Salmon (8 oz.)
1 Serving ‘Uala (8 oz.)
1 Serving Haupia (8 oz.)
1 bowl Poi (16 oz.)
Total weight: 8.5 lbs.
$97 or FREE!*

*You gotta’ grind every’ting in 7 minutes. Nah, jus’ kidding, make ‘dat 37 minutes. Da’ serving plate and bowls gotta’ be “polished” clean (no can stay get pieces of food or remaining liquid, laddat). Only you can grind ’em, not da’ whole gang. You no finish em’, hand ovah da’ Kala (money) braddah-sistah-aunteh-unko-cuz!

Other eating challenges I’d like to  see:
• Man vs. Loco Moco (4 one pound beef patties and 4 eggs on top 6 scoops rice, 4 scoops mac salad on da’ side and gravy all ovah in 25 minutes)
• Man vs Manapua (1 dozen in 12 minutes)
• Man vs. Saimin (2 gallon’s worth in 20 minutes)
• Man vs. Shave Ice (easy! das’ only shugah waddah!) lol
… you get the idea.

Gosh, I got full just writing this post. :-\


18 thoughts on “Tony Roma’s Man vs Ribs Hawaii Challenge

  • March 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Pomai, Fall-off-the-bone tender BBQ ribs in 30 min. In pressure cooker put steaming rack, chopped onion and 1½ cups water with 2 ea. Knorr pork bouillon cubes. Season your pork ribs with favorite dry seasonings; tablespoon of liquid smoke both sides and place on rack above water so you steam roast the ribs. Close; lock lid and bring to high pressure. Cook for 15 min and quick release pressure. Move ribs to a broiler pan and place under broiler basting with your favorite BBQ sauce. Cook about 7½ min. per side till ribs are done and BBQ sauce has good caramelized color but not charred. Remove to plate and enjoy!

  • March 13, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Competitive eating and gluttonous eating challenges fascinate me, but at the same time, they embarrass me. Starving people, and all of that.

  • March 13, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    h-Chan – Ditto. When Man vs Food’s first season ran on the Travel Channel, I HATED the show for that very sentiment you expressed. Then as more seasons ran, it all became “convoluted entertainment”. Of which now I personally take it as.

    Ken-San – Your whole indoor style pressure cooker method sounds GREAT. Except I just cannot accept baby back ribs (or any BBQ meat for that matter) that aren’t finished on gas, charcoal or hardwood on an open flame and red-hot cast iron cooking grates. Gotta’ have them seared cross-hatch markings and smokey, caramelized flavah!

    • March 13, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      Pomai I would normally finish my ribs on my small Weber Smoky Joe grill with natural charwood charcoal however, living in a condo that does not allow grills on lanais and only in large/small BBQ picnic areas on the grounds makes it a pain for cooking ½ rack of ribs so that is my next best alternative. The pre-cooking of the ribs in the pressure cooker really tenderizes them so you only need to finish them off on the grill. I do the same with chicken pressure pre-cooking for 6 min and then I only need to toss in spices/herbs and batter to make knock-off KFC fried chicken finish frying in a regular cast iron fry pan.

    • March 14, 2014 at 3:09 am

      Pomai-Chan, I also watched for the “convoluted entertainment” aspect. Though in later seasons, before he lost the weight and changed the format, looking at this bloated man shoving who-knows-what into his mouth with a big towel to mop up the meat sweats… ugh. I often worried he was going to have a heart attack or stroke on the spot. It was horrifying (but I still watched). It should be required viewing while eating meals for anyone on a diet. I guarantee the sight that bloated, sweaty man gorging on food would be enough to make anyone eat very little while watching it.

      I must say, though, good for him for getting on a healthy diet and changing the format. He really looked healthy when they brought back the show (though I stopped watching soon after, because it just wasn’t the same w/o the bloat and meat sweats, oh, the irony).

      • March 14, 2014 at 3:10 am

        ACK! Pomai-SAN! SAN! I can’t even blame it on lack of coffee, I don’t drink it.

        • March 14, 2014 at 6:20 am


          When did you get “the operation”? You’re so handsome and buff now! LOL ;-P

          I seen the photos of Adam after his weight loss (he looks great), only after searching for “Man vs Food food weight”, trying to find out on average how many pounds of food the challenges on MVF weighs. Didn’t get an answer on my query. Only that Adam lost weight. lol

          You must be supermodel thin with your super clean diet. Me? I’m falling off the wagon from work stress and need to get back to exercising more. I’ll start another weigh-in log soon, shooting for a June end-date on final weight loss goal.

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    FYI based on a 2,000 daily calorie diet with no more than 2,300 mg Sodium per day Tony Roma’s Man VS Ribs Hawaii Challenge would really set you back a few days and clog up the arteries!

    1 lb. (16oz) of Tony Roma’s Baby Back Ribs sports 1184 Calories; Calories from Fat 662; Total Fat 73.6g 112%; Saturated Fat 25.6g 128%; Cholesterol 304mg 102%; Sodium 2944mg 122%; Carbohydrates 70.4g 22%; Dietary Fiber 0g 0%; Sugars 60.8g; Protein 64g; Vitamin A 32%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 26%; Iron 26%

    1 lb. (16oz) of Tony Roma’s St. Louis Style Spare Ribs sports 1024 Calories; Calories from Fat 518; Total Fat 57.6g 90%; Saturated Fat 19.2g 96%; Cholesterol 272mg 90%; Sodium 2912mg 122%; Carbohydrates 54.4g 19%; Dietary Fiber 0g 0%; Sugars 48.32g; Protein 67.2g; Vitamin A 6%; Vitamin C 6%; Calcium 6%; Iron 26%

    The Tony Roma’s Onion Loaf – Full (served with Original BBQ) has an unbelievable Calories 1200; Calories from Fat 210; Total Fat 23g 35%; Saturated Fat 4g 20%; Trans Fat 0g; Polyunsaturated Fat – ; Monounsaturated Fat – ; Cholesterol 0mg 0%; Sodium 2660mg; 111%; Total Carbohydrates 205g 68%; Dietary Fiber 12g 48%; Sugars 48g; Protein 23g; Vitamin A 60%; Vitamin C 30%; Calcium 150%; Iron 10%

    • March 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm


      Regarding Tony Roma’s nutritional values, I’m not surprised at all on those staggering numbers. Yet hey, for special occasions, who cares? Bring it!

      As for tenderizing ribs, I’ve actually tried doing it in my pressure cooker as well, and it turned out pretty good, considering the time savings. Still, flavor-wise, not as good as roasting them in foil (basted in the BBQ sauce) in the oven (convection mode), then throwing them on “the barbie” for the finish. Oh yeah!

    • March 14, 2014 at 4:39 am

      Based on a 2,000 daily calorie diet with no more than 2300mg Sodium per day, you’d be better off just passing by about every other restaurant in Honolulu! But that’s why we love them so much. Hell, I come over there just to eat. Oh, and because the people are so nice! ;^)

  • March 14, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Pomai, I like the way they make the ribs no other bar bq eateries does it . So tender and moist. My family been going to Tony Romas for years and still enjoyed it.

  • March 14, 2014 at 1:32 am

    I wonder if you do not have enough money for the challenge thinking you could win it? My brother would like to try for he always hungry but money not much.

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:11 am

    @ Richard – Good question. I should have asked Joe if they require you to pay first before attempting the challenge. I’ll follow-up and get back to you on that. Otherwise, assume if you don’t have the cash, you’ll have to wash the dishes and mop the floors. lol

    @ Kelike – Being you’re Chinese, have you ever made or tasted Charsiu style pork ribs? I believe Alicia’s Market has them. Now that I think about that, Tony Roma’s should try doing their version of Turkey Tails. Name them “Tony’s Tails”. Whoo-ha!

  • March 14, 2014 at 5:51 am

    I was just wondering, how they came up with the price? According to their menu, the items add up to $68.97. For me, I would rather take my time and eat it slow. What other food challenges do they have on O’ahu? Is the only prize for this challenge a free meal? they should at least have a t-shirt and a wall of fame.

    In Hilo, Ken’s House of Pancakes has three “Sumo” sized meals, a Loco. a Saimin, and a Burger.That would make an awesome challenge. The Sumo Challenge would be a chore to try

    As always, keep up the good work…another awesome post..

  • March 14, 2014 at 6:05 am


    I suppose the bloated price is part of the gamble factor, just like Vegas, placing odds in favor of the house, which also helps “insure” the winners of the challenge. And I agree, there should at least be a wall-of-fame and t-shirt for the winners of any food challenge.

    As for other food challenges on Oahu, there’s this one website that lists challenges all around the country, including Hawaii:


    On there, the only ones listed for Hawaii (Oahu) are:
    • Taco Del Mar – Cinco De Mondo
    • Mac 24/7 Bar & Restaurant MacDaddy Challenge (Man vs Food did that one)
    • Moose McGillycuddy’s The Moose Omelette Omelette

    Surely there’s more than that here. I’ll check Yelp’s “Talk” forums and get back to you on it.

    For the Ken’s House of Pancakes “Sumo” Challenge, they definitely need to add pancakes to that one. They should try make a “Ken’s House of Pancakes Burger”, using stacked mini pancakes as the bun, layered in between with butter, maple syrup and bacon. Whoo!

    Sheesh, I need to pop some BP meds now just thinking about all that. :O

  • March 14, 2014 at 10:35 am

    BTW, Tony Roma’s started in Miami. Used to go all the time when I was a kid. I don’t know what it’s like now, but it used to be dark, with tablecloths, and waiters in suits. Not what you think of when you think BBQ. Also, I’m sad to see that they’ve changed the onion loaf. Back in the day, it was literally a loaf.

  • March 15, 2014 at 2:56 am

    Pomai, as much people find food contests is fun but is also dangerous. A few years ago in Taipei a college held rolls eating contest and of course a college student won but got sick in restroom and died. It was too much for him to handle he could not breath . Help came but too late he died at 20 year of age.

  • March 15, 2014 at 11:51 am

    @ h-Chan – I see a football team owner bought the original restaurant in Orlando and expanded it. The Tony Roma’s here on Oahu have that same dark-lit ambiance with tablecloths and nicely-dressed wait staff. It’s classy, yet casual, which is kinda’ weird for a BBQ joint, but it works. I really love dining at the Waikiki location. Very romantic, especially when your lover has BBQ sauce all over their hands and mouth. lol Never cared for their Onion Loaf. Too greasy. I stick with the ribs and the sides only. That’s way more food than I can eat, anyway.

    @ Amy – See my new post and hold on to your heart. lol


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