TikTok sensation and former wrestler Keith Lee has brought his renowned palate to Houston, stirring the pot with his trademark "taste test tour" across the city's diverse culinary landscape. Lee, whose social media clout includes a staggering 15 million followers on TikTok alone, began his gastronomic conquest of H-Town by taking to social media on November 18, announcing his entry into Bayou City with much fanfare, according to FOX 26 Houston.
With his reviews often making waves and even being dubbed the "Keith Lee Effect" by his followers, Lee visited two local eateries, Stick Talk Cajun-Hibachi and Butter Funk Kitchen, offering a mixed bag of praise and constructive criticism. As per his update, Stick Talk Cajun-Hibachi was handed an overall decent score, with the side sauces redeeming an otherwise under-seasoned meat selection, whereas Butter Funk Kitchen's down-home Southern fare fared considerably better in the powerhouse influencer's roundup.
@keith_lee125 Next stop on the food tour taste test 💕would you try it 💕 #foodcritic ♬ original sound - Keith Lee
The Midtown and Galleria locales of Stick Talk served up late-night Cajun-Hibachi that Lee found to be generally acceptable but suggested the meats lacked in flavor depth, according to a review by Chron.com. Lee noted the hibachi joint's disappointing taste profile overtly skewed towards salt; however, the establishment's long hours and delivery-app integration redeemed its standing in his eyes.
Butter Funk Kitchen left a zesty impression on Lee, scoring high marks for items like its red beans and rice, and their lemon pepper wings. In a statement obtained by FOX 26 Houston, Lee expressed his dissatisfaction with the Mac N' Cheese at Butter Funk, needing, "a lot more flavor," while praising other dishes for their freshness and generous use of seasoning. However, Lee couldn’t sample the restaurant’s seafood gumbo himself due to a shrimp allergy, but his wife rated the dish as more soup than gumbo, thinking the meat a bit too soft.
Aaron Johnson, owner of Butter Funk Kitchen, responded to the recognition with a mix of excitement and pressure, "Everybody's panicking right now," in anticipation of the possible surge of patrons attracted by Lee's spotlight. Having opened in May 2022, Johnson emphasized the heart of his establishment, telling Chron.com, "It's the food that you remember getting as a kid going to grandma's house," underscoring a nostalgic connection that outshines fleeting fame. The endorsement by Lee, according to Johnson, is second only to their mission of recreating those deeply cherished food memories, indicating a business model that runs on more than just hype.