Photo by Stephanie Breijo
Steamed pork buns from Maketto
Put on your eating pants because Erik Bruner-Yang, award-winning chef of D.C.'s Toki Underground and the yet-to-open Maketto restaurant-cum-retail space in the District, takes over Rappahannock on Monday, Nov. 24.
The pop-up is the first of four stops on the Maketto Holiday Tour, where Bruner-Yang and his merry band of tastemakers — both literal and metaphorical — will set up shop to sling piping-hot noodle bowls, Asian small plates, gourmet cocktails and Durkl's winter clothing and accessory line.
"We want it to be for Richmond, uniquely Richmond," says Bruner-Yang. "I don't want it to seem like D.C. guys coming to do D.C. things. We wanted to be really true to what that city is and do things specifically for that city."
Bruner-Yang, a former Richmonder himself, is preparing a gluten-free, vegan noodle bowl specifically for RVA (aptly titled the I Love RVA Bowl), an earthy and hearty one-time-only dish served with noodles, seasonal winter root vegetables and ginger-lemongrass broth.
Diners can also expect a heavier pork-based noodle bowl more akin to Bruner-Yang's signature Toki tonkatsu-style ramen, though he's very clear that this pop-up, and especially this dish, is a perfect blend of influence from his acclaimed ramen shop and Maketto. "It will definitely be a pork lover's bowl," says Bruner-Yang, adding that he'll be breaking down an entire 300-pound hog for this one dish and incorporating alkaline noodles, a yet-to-be-determined stir-fry topping with local vegetables, and spicy sausage.
Also on the table will be his cult-classic steamed pork buns, which are worth devouring hand over fist. (In fact, I dare you to eat just one.)
Todd Thrasher, bartender of D.C.'s PX, will be crafting specialty cocktails to complement Bruner-Yang's dishes, but be warned: The team only has enough for 500 servings, total, and seating is first come, first served, from 5 to 10 p.m.
Post-Richmond, the Maketto Holiday Tour will host pop-ups in D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, though Bruner-Yang adds that he'd love to come back for another stop in RVA before the end of the year.
"I have a deep attachment to Richmond," the chef says. "It's nice to get away and experience it; it's a great city."