The TT 46

Erik Bruner-Yang

Toki Underground and Maketto, Washington, D.C.
Photo: Hannah Hudson Photography

Why he killed it in 2015: It's easy to rattle off lip-tingling central Chinese food or cumin-laced northern dishes, but basil-powered, oyster-laden deliciousness from Taiwan? That's where Bruner-Yang comes in. He's highlighting an overlooked cuisine with his excellent takes on the island nation's street food and ramen at Toki Underground and the newly opened Maketto market. His efforts and talent aren't going unnoticed: He was a finalist in this year's James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef of the Year.

How would you describe your food? "Asian American."

What's your signature dish? "Taiwanese fried chicken (Maketto) and Taipei curry chicken ramen (Toki Underground)."

What are the best and worst pieces of advice you've gotten from a mentor? "The best advice I have ever received is that dishwashers are the most important part of your business. The worst is that I should be a chef. Haha."

Do you have a secret talent? "I am a classically trained piano player."

What's your favorite kitchen scar? "I just cut off the tip of my ring finger. That should be a good one. Check it out on Instagram @erikbruneryang."

Find Toki Underground and Maketto on DINE.

Next Chef
Get the Tasting Table newsletter for adventurous eaters everywhere