Meet Emily Hoang: A Successful DMV Food Blogger

When it comes to discovering new places to eat at in the DMV, Instagram provides a variety of accounts to follow but @urnovafoodie has been a classic since I was in high school and is a fantastic source of a variety of cuisines throughout the area. I had the privilege of interviewing Emily Hoang, a Mason student and the owner of the account. Check out what she had to say!

Preeya Raja (PR): Hi Emily! Could you please tell me a little bit about yourself?

Emily Hoang (EH): My name is Emily, this is my first semester at Mason and I am a junior majoring in Marketing. About a year and a half into having my food Instagram, a guy named Andy (@novafoodking) reached out to me to join DMVFoodieCrew which is the largest group of food influencers based in the DMV area. We connect through food and help businesses tell their story about their brand through photography, videography, media events and social media consulting. Besides helping businesses, it’s important for us to give back to the community as well! We’ve packaged food at Maryland food banks & cooked meals at Ronald McDonald House! My favorite food is either Thai food or sushi and I love trying new restaurants and exotic foods. The weirdest thing I’ve eaten is either pigs brain or grasshoppers.

PR: What inspired and motivated you to start a food Instagram account?

EH: My passion and love for food! The idea came about when I was a senior in high school during English class with my friends. I have always posted pictures of food that I ate on my social media and frequently got asked about where I ate. So, my friends suggested that I make an Instagram account. I laughed at the idea because I didn’t think anyone would follow a food account but eventually, I decided to start one because I didn’t think it would hurt to & it’d be a fun hobby to have.

PR: You currently have nearly 8,000 followers; did you ever think that your account would have grown this big? How did you expand your account?

EH: No, never! It’s crazy to think about how much it’s grown in the past two years. When I first started my account, I made it to keep a record of the places I ate at. I never thought that my account would be where it is today. Growing my account took hard work & time! I grew my account by upping my engagement, and putting more thought into each of my posts. Joining DMVFoodieCrew was a huge contributor to my growth too. Getting support and advice from other food influencers helped my account flourish.

PR: How do you balance running the account and being a college student at the same time?

EH: It’s hard to balance running the account while being a full time student. But, I try to be proactive about stuff especially if I know I have an exam coming up or an important food event. I normally have my week planned out ahead of time and set time aside where I will do my homework and my Instagram stuff.

PR: Could you tell us more about how you get sponsorships and how you decide which restaurants to visit?

EH: There are multiple food influencer platforms like Foodietribe or Zipkick that is the “middle man” and connects you with brands for sponsored posts or collaborations. On the other hand, if a business likes your feed, they will reach out to you and propose a collaboration with you.

There’s always new restaurants popping up in the area & I’m always on the lookout for them. I usually use yelp and if I still can’t decide where to eat, I ask for recommendations from members of DMVFoodieCrew.

PR: How do you diversify your food options and explore new cultures within food?

EH: I think it’s easy to diversify my food options because the DMV area is filled with a diverse group of people. I use Instagram too since I follow lots of other food influencers that will post about food that I’ve never even heard of before!

PR: What are some food Instagram accounts you get inspiration from?

EH: Some food accounts that inspire me are 

@foodsinmyheart, @kearabeareats and @dcfoodporn

@foodsinmyheart is run by a couple named Helen & Vince and they are good friends of mine! Their feed is amazing & they’ve given me lots of advice on photography!

@kearbeareats takes amazing flatlays and I love her vibrant photos with loads of food!

@dcfoodporn is an OG in the food Instagram game and I’ve followed him ever since I started my food Instagram account.

PR: If you had to pick one all time favorite restaurant in the area, what would it be?

EH: I would have to say Yume Sushi in Arlington. I LOVE sushi & their sushi is phenomenal. It is so fresh & my favorite dish to get there is either “The Winner” or the Crunchy Salsa roll. They also have sake on tap which I think is super cool if you’re into sake!

PR: For sweet toothed girls like me, what dessert places do you recommend?

EH: I have a huge sweet tooth as well so I gotchu covered! I’ve got a couple places that you should check out. Magnolia in Vienna has photogenic & delicious honey toast! Their interior feels super homey and they offer great drinks too. Baked Bear in Bethesda, Maryland has the best ice cream cookie sandwiches. They make their cookies fresh & they even offer donut ice cream sandwiches. Last but not least, if you’re a matcha fan you will love Matcha Cafe Maiko located in Centreville or Tysons Mall. Their matcha soft serve is to die for! If you’re feeling boujee, they can put 24K gold on your soft serve!

PR: Do you have any tips for aspiring food bloggers?

EH: I believe the most important thing is to find ways to make your account stand out. There’s so many food Instagrams out there so it’s important to be creative & different! Another tip is to stay active for about 30 minutes after you post to engage with any followers that have commented or liked your post. It’s good to show some love back!

DMVFoodieCrew has applications open now to join if you’re a food blogger/influencer! It’s a great community to be a part of & everyone is so supportive & helpful. You can find the application link on @dmvfoodiecrew Instagram bio.

PR: Lastly, where do you hope to see this account and your hobby going forward in the future?

EH: One of my short term goals is to reach 10K followers before the end of this year. I hope to become a full time food influencer/content creator in the near future. Additionally, I’d love to expand my account and do lifestyle and travel too!

It has been fascinating to get insight from someone as successful as Emily and I know she’s only going to continue growing from here. 

Check out Emily’s account at @urnovafoodie on Instagram for all your foodie dreams come true and give her some love!