Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Foreign National - Biography


October 2018

Born in Taiwan and raised in the States, Erik Bruner-Yang spent his childhood studying piano and racking up awards at music competitions. In 2002, he formed the indie band Pash with friends from Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and served as the touring band’s guitar player and business manager for six years.

With a mix of culinary experience from side jobs (namely Red Robin) and management experience from Pash, Bruner-Yang kicked off his hospitality career as general manager of Sticky Rice, a sushi restaurant in Washington, D.C. Around this time, his grandfather in Taiwan fell ill, and Bruner-Yang began to visit each year and develop a deeper appreciation for Taiwanese cuisine. In 2011, he opened Toki Underground, a ramen shop that drew a huge waitlist for its rich broths. The restaurant won Eater DC’s “Best New Restaurant” the same year.

Bruner-Yang has since opened several other D.C. establishments, including Maketto, a three-level Asian market with a retail store, coffee shop, and restaurant; and Paper Horse, a fast-casual ramen stand inside Whole Foods. His most recent projects include two venues inside the swanky Line Hotel: Brothers and Sisters, which interprets global classics from the era of grand hotels, and teensy Spoken English, a standing-room-only space modeled after Japanese tachinomiyas.

All Bruner-Yang concepts are housed under the group Foreign National. He was nominated for James Beard’s “Rising Star Chef” in 2015 and was a semifinalist for “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” in 2016.