We Chatted with TikToker Josh Slavin, Viral for His 'Food Critic' Dining at Hong Kong's Michelin Star Restaurants
November 09, 2022
You might have already recognised Josh Slavin’s viral videos on TikTok or Instagram.
“I’ve got a notebook, and I’m going to go to a fancy restaurant, act like a food critic. Let’s see if they treat me differently,” the 21-year-old college student on a semester abroad studying in Hong Kong says to the camera.
In his free time between studies, the legendary TikToker Josh travels to the city’s top Michelin-Star and world-famous restaurants with a pen and paper, acting like a food critic to see what reactions he can get.
After posting a series of videos that have gone viral, we wanted to find out the story of Josh and how he got the idea to act like a big food critic in the city.
Who are you, Josh?
I am a 21-year-old college student and content creator from the U.S. Back home, I attend Washington University in St. Louis and am majoring in Finance and Accounting. I am completing my final semester of university, studying here at HKUST. On social media, I have been creating content for about a year and post food, lifestyle, and travel videos.
Tell us about your history in filmmaking. How did you begin?
I have aspired to become a content creator from a young age, but never had much success. In my first years of college, I made food review videos on Snapchat and Instagram, but these channels never gained more than a few hundred followers. I began to seriously make content a year ago, and have been creating short-form content centred around my lifestyle, food, and travel.
Why did you decide to come to Hong Kong?
In completing my final semester of university, Hong Kong immediately stuck out as the most exciting choice out of the locations we were provided for study abroad in our exchange program. The rich food scene here was also an incentive to come here!
Out of all the options, HKUST seemed to be the most academically rigorous option for me. Socially, I am most drawn toward passionate, ambitious, and hard-working people, and believed HKUST would be the best for that.
I did my best to come to Hong Kong with no expectations. I wanted to arrive with an open mind and no preconceptions before coming, so I could experience everything for my first time independently.
How did you first start going to Michelin-starred restaurants in Hong Kong and acting like a food critic?
I couldn’t get a reservation for Carbone in New York when I travelled there, so when I saw there was a location here, I knew I had to try it! I planned to film a restaurant review and share my thoughts, but as I sat down at my table, I remembered a Reddit post I saw a few months ago.
The post discussed how if you take notes in a restaurant, they might think you are a food critic. I had my planner in my bag, so I figured I would give it a try!
Did you expect these videos to blow up online?
Like with any video, I hoped it would perform well, but I didn’t have any expectations. The video gained massive traction across all my social media platforms to a degree far beyond what I could have ever anticipated.
I enjoy eating at fancy restaurants on special occasions, but I still have a hard time justifying the price tag. I was thrilled to see that my followers engaged well and requested that I try replicating the same concept at other restaurants. All the support makes me feel less guilty about spending so much on a meal.
What do you want to present with your vlogs of city and student life?
My only goal is to document my genuine experience. I hope to share my experience of Hong Kong from my perspective as an exchange student who is visiting for my first time ever.
What other restaurants do you want to check out in Hong Kong?
I really want to try out one of Hong Kong’s high-end buffets. I have seen a few restaurants online, and the selection and quality of these restaurants look exciting. I would also like to try a nice afternoon tea set and some of the city's street food!
Anything that surprised you about the city?
One thing I have been impressed by is the public transportation. I lived in New York City this summer, and Hong Kong’s public transportation blows it out of the water. I have also been surprised by the fast food. I thought the US was supposed to be known for its fast food, but every fast-food restaurant I have tried has been far better here than in the US.
Why should others come to the city?
Hong Kong is a beautiful, vibrant, and culturally rich city. Even for a first-time visitor, navigating this city is incredibly easy. This makes it easy to immerse yourself in the culture from day one.
The public transportation system here makes almost any part of the city accessible for a low price. The food scene here is diverse and delicious, too! Additionally, as a creator, the support and welcome I [have] received from Hong Kong locals has been extremely warm and kind.
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