YouTube Eater Raina Huang Fresno Thai Food Challenge California


Have you tried any food challenges in Fresno that seem impossible?

He’s quite possibly a competitive eater, and popular Youtuber Raina Huang has beaten him before.

And judging by his looks, you might not have suspected the 5-foot-7, 131-pound Huang to bring such an appetite.

On his latest culinary conquest in Fresno, 26-year-old Huang devoured five large Thai noodle soup bowls from Lotus Kitchen in 17 minutes.

That’s 7 1/2 pounds of broth alone (each bowl holds 24 ounces).

Not to mention the noodles, vegetables and beef meatballs that accompany each soup.

Plus, the key ingredient that makes Thai noodle bowls a bit thicker and darker in color compared to other soups: pork blood.

“Before, I didn’t know what Thai boat noodles were,” said Huang, a native of Southern California who visited Fresno last week. “It was definitely an experience. I don’t usually eat exotic foods like that.

“Once I got there and saw all the bowls and all the people who were there looking at me and cheering me on, I had to go. “

Lotus Kitchen, an Asian-Cajun restaurant located near Cedar and McKinley avenues, does not usually offer a Thai boat noodle bowl challenge.

For the occasion, the restaurant sent Huang a special invitation to try their Thai noodles by boat in the hope of gaining some visibility on social media.

“She has a lot of fans,” said Kan Nguyen, owner of Lotus Kitchen. “Everyone knows the pho and udon stuff. Not many people know about Thai noodles.

“It’s different. A little sour, a little sweet, a little spicy.

Huang, who has taken on various dietary challenges over the past three years, happily accepted Lotus Kitchen’s invitation.

She had been to the Fresno area before for a pancake challenge at Batter Up, a burrito challenge at Taqueria Yarelis, a pho challenge at the Legendary Pho Restaurant, and a burgers and fries challenge at the Grill Masters BBQ.

Huang documents his dietary challenges on his YouTube page, which has around 455,000 subscribers. She also has 1.7 million followers on TikTok and around 230,000 on Instagram.

Aspiring actress and model, Huang became a professional food eater / social media eater to get noticed after realizing she could establish her own video niche. There are very few other social media feed videos that offer an Asian-American woman’s perspective.

Some of Huang’s food withdrawals have gone viral, including when she ate seven pounds of pho in 23 minutes at Pho Ha # 7 restaurant in Riverside and finished 10 pounds of boiled seafood in under 40 minutes at the Crab Shack. in La Habra. .

“I grew up eating a lot of food in general,” Huang said. “I thought the amount of food I ate was pretty normal.

“I realize that was only the case later. Then I found out that restaurants gave me free food if I ate a lot. So I stayed with it. “

Among his Fresno eating challenges, Huang had to eat six pancakes, 10 eggs, two cups of cheese, two cups of potatoes, and four cups of toppings from among his choices of bacon, sausage, ham, sautéed spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onions, peppers, jalapeños or tomatoes) when visiting Batter Up.

She had a 45 minute time limit to complete the “Grand Slam Challenge” but did it in 18 minutes, 22 seconds.

“It was a lot of food, and I struggled but I finished it,” Huang said. “I switch off when I eat to eat a lot.

“It’s like a sport for me. You eat. You attack. You don’t think of anything other than “I have to do this.” “

In the burrito challenge, Huang was given a three-pound burrito.

Not only was she planning to eat it all, but Huang wanted to set a record time to finish the anaconda. And she did, gorging on the burrito carnitas that typically feeds 5-6 people in a restaurant record time of 10:48 am.

“It’s not always about how much you can eat, but how fast you can eat too,” she said.

In his Fresno pho challenge, Huang had to eat 2.5 pounds of noodles and 2 pounds of meat in an hour. She didn’t have to finish all the broth.

When she was done, Huang had completed the challenge in less than 15 minutes.

And for the hamburger and fries challenge, Huang mastered it in 8:28 pm.

“I’m feeling the effects (of eating a lot), but I’m just used to the process,” Huang said. “Usually I’ll be a bit tired after eating. It’s like what you would feel after a huge vacation meal.

“But I’m not going into a deep food coma. “

Huang said his trick for eating a lot of food, but to maintain his physique, is to run 5 km every day, followed by an hour of walking.

There are certain dangers in competitive eating.

Just two years ago, a man died after participating in an amateur taco contest held at a minor league baseball game in Fresno. He ended up choking in the middle of the food contest.

There are also other dangers in eating a lot in a short time.

Huang suggests that anyone interested in becoming a professional eater gradually develop their stomach capacity.

“Take it easy so as not to hurt yourself,” Huang said. “You have to train, train your stomach. I’ve heard of people tearing their stomachs apart.

Because being a professional eater isn’t just about having a big appetite.

It is about having the heart as much as it is about having the stomach.

“It’s hard work to be a professional eater,” Huang said. “You have to really love food and love to eat, but also take the time to train and stay in shape.”

This story was originally published March 12, 2021 5:00 a.m.

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