A Chinese all-you-can-eat grill banned a food influencer because he ate too much, contending that the restaurant loses hundreds of dollars each time he attends the eatery.
The customer, going by the handle Mr. Kang is a big eating influencer, one of many social media creators in Asia who live-streams their eating binges.
Mr. Kang said the restaurant is “discriminatory” against people with too much of an appetite, the BBC reported.
“I can eat a lot – is that a fault?” he said, adding that none of the food was wasted.
All-you-can-eat owner desperate
“Every time he comes here, I lose a few hundred yuan,” the chophouse owner from Handadi Seafood BBQ Buffet in Changsha city in China told reporters from Hunan TV.
Not only is Mr. Kang a great eater, he’s a thirsty one too, according to the proprietor.
“Even when he drinks soy milk, he can drink 20 or 30 bottles,” the diner owner complained. “When he eats the pork trotters, he consumes the whole tray of them. And for prawns, usually, people use tongs to pick them up, he uses a tray to take them all.”
According to Mr. Kang himself, he ate 1.5kg (3.3 lbs) of pork chops the first time he came around and 3.5kg (7.7 lbs) to 4kg (8.8 lbs) of prawns on his next visit.
The story went mega-viral on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter, attracting over 370 million views and 14,000 comments.
Many netizens on both sides of the aisle commented on the case. Some sympathized with Mr. Kang stating that the buffet owner shouldn’t have advertised a promise he couldn’t live up to, while others felt pity for the buffet owner.
The incident invoked a spree of funny Simpsons-style reactions on the internet. One user on Twitter joked, “This is the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film The NeverEnding Story.”
Asian-style food streaming channels have been on the rise in eastern Asia over the past decade attracting millions of fans marveling at food influencers who can be seen defying all laws of digestion, devouring tons of food seemingly without being affected.
The phenomenon seems to have originated in Korea where the genre is called ‘mukbang’ or eat-broadcast and it has gained a vast amount of loyal admirers.
“I started posting to TikTok more than two and a half years ago,” full-slender Muk Sna, a renowned mukbang star with 6 million followers on TikTok told the BBC last year. “And I’ve created and eaten 270 one-plate videos in the last year and a half,” Muk Sna said.
Last year, the Chinese government implemented a campaign against what it calls “food waste,” after President Xi Jinping made a personal call discouraging the practice amid looming food shortages, seemingly perpetual flooding, and the COVID-19 crisis.
Xi started the “clean plate campaign” and told the Chinese people that they should “observe a sense of crisis about food security.” Many video channels on social media, depicting extreme eaters, have been blurred or blocked from viewing and, if viewed, a warning pop-up message greets the viewer.
“Social-media users have leaped on the opportunity to start naming and shaming those who were once part of the niche that has overnight been rebranded as ‘wasteful’ and ‘vulgar'”, BBC China media analyst Kerry Allen told the outlet.
“Social-media platforms in China have long been nervous about having content on their platforms that is seen as counter to what the state deems good, moral behavior,” Allen added.
Even though most of Muk Sna’s followers are in Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand she is concerned about her 50,000 Chinese fans, who may no longer be able to reach her because of the ban.
“I’m hoping that only the worst channels will be affected by this to allow for the beneficial and good channels to remain open,” she said. “I don’t eat much in my videos and try to eat healthy food.”