Pho Real—Man V. Food Nation Does Dallas

Dave Rummel of Sonny Bryan's and Adam Richman.

Wednesday night, Travel Channel show Man V. Food Nation aired the episode they shot in  Dallas. Our ace reality TV food reporter, Harrison Smith, dutifully watched the show and turned his report on time. I, however, failed to post it in a timely manner. My apology to Harrison. Below he recaps the show and  incorporate lots of pho-ny puns in the process. And yes, that’s pronounced “fuh,” not “foe.”

Adam Richman lives the life I dream of: traveling the country, eating lots of food, acting silly, and getting paid. Richman hosts Man V. Food Nation, which, if the show doesn’t sound familiar, is to Man V. Food as tomato bisque is to the tomato. It’s the next step, naturally.

After traveling the country, eating lots of food, acting silly, and getting paid to do Man V. Food for three seasons, Richman now does the same thing—but invites seemingly normal eaters (like Pete McGillis of our own Dallas, Texas) to do it with him. Adam coached Pete to take down the Super Pho Challenge at Sprout’s Springroll & Pho. Pete had to consume five pounds of the Vietnamese noodle soup in 30 minutes.


What the pho, you ask? Why is this guy Adam Richman coming to Texas and eating Vietnamese soup? Maybe he reads too much SideDish.

Before heading over to Sprout’s in Arlington, though, Adam took the time to make a pilgrimage to Kuby’s and Sonny Bryan’s. Will Christopher, Kuby’s executive chef, demonstrated how he cooks the house made sausages. He begins by boiling the sausages for 10 minutes to contain their flavor. Then the chef puts them on the grill for a few minutes to add color for presentation. Dave Rummel, Sonny Bryan’s “Baron of Beef,” got to show off the barbecue joint’s hickory wood smoker, the secret to Sonny’s 9-hour, slow-cooked brisket sandwich. And even JD’s Chippery got a few seconds of screen time (though I still don’t know how it is that they make their semi-sweets).

Finishing off at Sprout’s, Adam coached financial analyst Pete McGillis, a self-described Food Avenger, in taking down five pounds of pho. Chef and co-owner Alex Nguyen’s phu-king huge bowl is filled with over two pounds of noodles, eye of round and brisket in a brisket and oxtail broth seasoned with cilantro and green and white onions. Pete was drinking the broth like cereal milk seven minutes into the challenge, and 8 minutes 12 seconds after he began, the financial analyst was able to call himself the Pho King.

There were some nice shots of downtown from across the Trinity, good looks of Reunion Tower, the longhorn sculpture in Pioneer Plaza, and a Red Line DART train, but where are the shots of some of Dallas’ other fabled eateries. Maple Avenue enchiladas? Wingfield’s burgers? Fuel City tacos? Wingfield’s doesn’t have a seven-pound burger challenge. But Kenny’s Burger Joint does.

So I’ll cut you a deal, Mr. Richman. You come back to Dallas, and I’ll eat Kenny’s El Jefe Grande Burger with you. Together. Two stomachs, one burger, victory assured.


  • Roland

    Pete MacGillis is the only person to defeat Kenny’s 7 lb burger challenge, El Jeffe Grande. I don’t know if it’s fair to ask anyone to complete that task again! Although it’s not Texan, I was glad to see Man vs Food Nation branch out and skip the burger, pizza, wing challenges this time out.

  • CA

    The poor guy taking the challenge looked and sounded so nervous, I was glad to see him finish it. But, Pho? In Arlington???

  • Gipson

    Two thoughts:

    1) I love how seeing these shows in Dallas makes me rethink other episodes of the same show. These food challenges are made out to be so famous (or infamous), when in fact the average resident you walk up to will have never heard about it. Like CA said, “Pho? In Arlington?” Makes you wonder how many of these challenges tackled in other cities are actually only known about by the 30 or so people there for the taping.

    (I also wonder how many challenges have been “invented” for the show, or is that cynical?)

    2) I know Sonny Bryan’s is an institution and I’m happy for their success. Dave seems like a nice dude. But truthfully, I don’t know a single person who likes it. Even before the recent Dallas BBQ renaissance with Pecan Lodge and Lockhart Smokehouse, no one I roll with even considered Sonny Bryan’s when craving barbecue. Now, both MvFN and Emeril’s Originals have featured it this year alone.

    Once again it makes you wonder if the restaurants featured on these shows are really all that – the equivalent of our Cane Rosso – or if they’re just another restaurant; the kind that would make most locals say, “Really?”

  • TS

    Y’know… publicity-whoring aside, I find it a little hypocritical of Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain to trash Food Network’s Paula Deen about her cooking style, when there’s Adam Richman (also of Travel Channel) going around the country highlighting massive monuments to food waste and overeating.
    Put your own house in order first, Tony.

  • rhonda

    @gipson… I love Sonny Bryan’s the one on Inwood is delicious…. and if you are from the area you would know that Arlington has a big asian influence there is alot of good pho!!! maybe you should explore a little..just saying!!!

  • Elizabeth

    My husband and I travel from Uptown Dallas to Arlington several times a month to eat pho. If you’ve never had pho before it’s absolutely delicious and addicting to anyone I introduce it to. Seriously, instead of being cynical because you know nothing about pho (ahem… Gipson and CA). I love how you assume that only 30 or so people know about it just because you don’t. Take it as an opportunity to try something new and discover something amazing that you’ve never had before. The metroplex is lucky to have such a huge Asian influence in Arlington that takes only minutes to travel to. Believe it or not, there is more food out there than burgers, steak, pizza, bbq and wings.

  • Gipson

    *rereads own post*
    Where did I say I knew nothing about pho? Or Arlington? Can you cite that? I don’t think I’m the one making assumptions here.

  • Elizabeth

    You didn’t exactly say, “I know nothing about pho,” as most individuals would not be so apt to admit what the know or do not.

    But your entire paragraph that states, “when in fact the average resident you walk up to will have never heard about it. Like CA said, “Pho? In Arlington?” Makes you wonder how many of these challenges tackled in other cities are actually only known about by the 30 or so people there for the taping.”

    Your entire messaging is implying that the average resident doesn’t know about it (again, implying that you may not) and that 30 or so people would know about it.

    Again, the entire point of your paragraph was to point out that pho is unknown… am I misinterpreting that in some way?

  • Gipson

    You are misinterpreting. Please read the whole sentence: “These food challenges are made out to be so famous (or infamous), when in fact the average resident you walk up to will have never heard about it.”

    It’s clear I’m referring to the food challenge itself, not the cuisine. I did not say, or imply, that the average Dallas resident is unfamiliar with pho. In fact, it’s a great pho town. I said that the average Dallas resident is unfamiliar with the Super Bowl challenge at Sprouts. That it is not a famous food challenge amongst locals. Do you disagree?

    My comment was meant purely as a rhetorical musing about the difference between how a travel program presents a city, and how a local might present it. Being aware of that difference when seeing something I’m familiar with – Dallas, Arlington and pho – makes it fun to wonder how “off” the representation is of other cities.

    Definitely not criticizing or belittling pho, which I love.

  • Elizabeth

    OK. I re-read what you said. I can totally see that you are talking about the challenge, not the food. I’ve never heard of the challenge at Sprouts myself (nor can I think of any food challenges in Dallas). Sorry for the back-and-forth.

  • Gipson

    No apologies necessary. I’m just happy it was civil. I can’t think of any Dallas food challenges except for the one at Kenny’s, mentioned above.

  • 9 hours? yikes.

  • Twinwillow

    If the smoked meats at Sonny Bryan’s were only 1/2 as good as they looked on the show, there would be a lot less kvetching about them.

  • I am Spartacus

    Re: food challenges (Gipson, 8/19 @ 4:11), Rusty Taco has one, but it’s just a “how many can you eat/can you beat the other guy” rather than a set challenge.