The Guy Who Brought Ramen to DC Names His 7 Men’s Essentials

Erik Bruner-Yang on CBD, pizza apps and the one color of socks you should never wear

July 30, 2019 10:15 am
Erik Bruner-Yang
Chef Erik Bruner-Yang at Maketto
Maketto / Facebook

If you’ve ever enjoyed a bowl of ramen in DC, Erik Bruner-Yang was partially responsible. In 2011, he opened his debut restaurant, Toki Underground, a quirky and intimate H Street spot that introduced the city to its first bowl of slurp-able noodle soup. 

Since then, he’s gone on to open some of the hippest joints in town, from the Taiwanese-Cambodian Maketto (which doubles as a street style boutique) to two separate concepts inside of the trendy Line Hotel in Adams Morgan: the cocktail-forward American joint Brothers and Sisters and the standing-room-only, Tachinomiya-style Spoken English

In anticipation of his yet-to-be-named all day cafe coming to the Novel South Capitol apartments at the end of summer, we asked the multi-time James Beard Finalist for his take on the seven essentials every man should have on hand … along with seven things he thinks you should dispose of posthaste.

Be forewarned — his responses will definitely have you anxiously rifling through your sock drawer tonight.

The 7 things every man could use …

  1. A Wildflower CBD Stick: “I hurt my back really badly at the beginning of the year and have never really been on the CBD train, but a great salesperson at Standard Dose in NYC really sold me on this product. I think it’s amazing and really works.”
  2. Le Labo Rose: “This is currently my favorite scent. I love the mix of feminine and masculine. I think most men would not even think about trying this scent out, but it works perfectly with my ‘work all day’ smell.” 
  3. Black Socks: “Grown men should not wear white socks, ever.”
  4. RPM: “It’s one of my favorite restaurants and I wish there was one in every city in America. Super consistent, great service and great customer notes. They always have our kids’ food ready and delivered by the time we order. Can’t really beat service like that when you are out eating with a 2- and a 4-year-old.”
  5. Spending time with your partner: “Being so busy, it’s important to make time for the little things. From random, quick coffee dates (at the best coffee shop in America that has the best baristas … Maketto) to [purposefully] getting stuck in traffic so we can catch up, listen to music, joke around and Google movies we want to see that we won’t ever see. I am lucky to have [my wife] Seda in my life. 
  6. The &pizza Mobile Application: “Any dad needs to have a pizza app downloaded for those days you are responsible for everything. &pizza is the best and most consistent fast pizza on the market.” (Disclaimer: Bruner-Yang is the new Executive Chef of &pizza.)
  7. White Sneakers: “I typically only wear white only sneakers on a three-month rotation. I find being consistent in my style and wearing the same silhouettes every day makes people think I am fashionable. I would be Kanye [West] at the Met Ball wearing that Dickies outfit. That’s me every day.” 

And the 7 that should be tossed out immediately …

  1. White Socks: “White socks will always make you look dirty no matter what you do.”
  2. Boxers: “They only work as pajamas. Wearing boxers under jeans feels very ‘teenager’ to me.”
  3. Axe Body Spray: “Anything that a teenager uses a grown adult should not. Axe Body spray is one of them. I prefer Dove Deodorant Spray. It works well, provides a softer scent and keeps you from smelling.”
  4. Wallet Chain: “Continuing on this ‘don’t wear anything a teenager would wear’ rant.  Unless you are full-on committed to the SLC punk look, don’t slightly integrate it into your daily fashion.”
  5. Paper Straws: “Just don’t offer straws at all. Paper straws are gross. They make your lips feel chapped and you basically have to lube your straw before you even use it.”
  6. Fake maple syrup. “They always give it to my kids when they’re in pre-K, and it’s ruined it for me when I try to get them to enjoy the real stuff now.”
  7. The NCAA’s terrible no-pay policy: “College Athletes should be paid. Universities and corporations make millions of dollars off these student athletes.”


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