EDMONDS, Wash. — For local restaurants, there's no greater good luck charm than the appearance of TikTok star Teena Thach. Her viral videos showcase not just the food, but the families making the meals. Many are located in the kind of places you might never guess offered such tasty treats.
"I think a lot of people say, 'Don't yuck my yum,'" Thach said. "I think people tend to get scared when they look at food, but I want to be your foodie friend and tell you that the food tastes so much better when you hear the story."
"Right after the TikTok we were so busy," Cindy Yang said. "We usually have like 10 or 15 dishes of deep fried wontons being sold and, the day after, we had 90!"
This is where we met Thach for lunch. The table was loaded with traditional Cantonese fare. It was all a far cry from panda express.
"So which dish would you like to try first?" Thach asked us.
We wanted to try the jellyfish with the thousand year old egg.
"Yeah, he's being adventurous everyone!" Thach said.
The jellyfish is a little slippery but so good. We liked it a lot. And despite its dark color, the thousand year old egg tasted just like any hard boiled egg.
"I always feel you should try everything once before you even judge it," Thach said.
Her adventurous spirit is infectious. Where Teena Thach posts, fans will follow. She's helped more than a handful of restaurants survive the pandemic.
"I never thought I could help so many people and have people try new food," Thach said. "You just never know, right?"
Thach says having such a positive impact has helped her heal. She began focusing her posts on restaurants soon after her father died in 2020.
"I just feel like my dad is my angel watching me and I know he would be proud of what I'm doing right now," she said.
With her boyfriend Simon Legaspi by her side, Thach has helped families that remind her of her own. At Blazing Bowl. a Laotian hot pot spot in Bellevue's Crossroads Mall, she even calls the owner "Dad."
"I came here grieving," Thach said. "And I always feel very at home when I'm here."
By sharing her spotlight, Teena Thach has found her purpose.
"I always think, 'If I were to die today, did I do everything I wanted to do?'" Thach said. "So it inspires me every single day to work hard, have fun, and do good in the world."