Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
He may not have decades of experiences, James Beard awards, or the traditional accolades of “top chefs.” But few chefs command a following or orchestrate a hypnotic dining experience like Toki Underground’s Erik Bruner Yang. He has managed to turn his hole-in-the-wall second floor ramen shop on H Street NE into one of the hottest restaurants in town, while garnering respect from the city’s top restaurateurs and critics. The waits are no shorter, and the seemingly simple Taiwanese-inspired food is no less complex, exciting, and satisfying as it was when Toki Underground first opened in 2011. Bruner-Yang is just 28, but he’s already a trendsetter, fueling D.C.’s love for Asian noodle soup. He’s also ambitious, with a new Asian street food–inspired market called Maketto headed to H Street NE later this year. If it’s anything like Toki, the wait will be worth it.