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Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, wife put assault case behind them

Erik Bruner-Yang, Executive Chef and Owner of Toki Underground. (Joseph Victor Stefanchik for The Washington Post Erik Bruner-Yang, executive chef and owner of Toki Underground. (Joseph Victor Stefanchik for The Washington Post)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Thursday wiped clean the criminal record of Erik Bruner-Yang, the popular chef behind the trendy ramen restaurant Toki Underground. Bruner-Yang last year pleaded guilty to  simple assault of his ex-girlfriend’s fiance. On Thursday, the judge allowed Bruner-Yang to withdraw that plea because the restaurateur passed alcohol and drug tests and had attended an anger management program and completed 20 hours of community service.

The judge also wiped clean the record of Bruner-Yang’s wife, Seda Nak, who pleaded guilty to similar charges stemming from the same incident and also passed drug tests and completed community service.

Judge Jose Lopez dismissed the charges and allowed the couple to withdraw their guilty pleas after hearing from the prosecutor that the couple had lived up to the court-ordered agreement. “Good luck to you,” Lopez said.

Leaving the courthouse Thursday, Bruner-Yang said he was relieved to put the case behind him. “We’re just happy to go home now,” he said.

The fight that started it all took place last June, when newly married Bruner-Yang and Nak showed up at the home of his ex-girlfriend and her fiance, apparently angered by something his ex had posted on Facebook about their wedding. Nak allegedly forced her way into the house and pushed the woman, according to charging documents; a man at the house separated them and shoved Nak outside.

Nak and Bruner-Yang kept up their threats, and the man came outside, leading to another dust-up in which he suffered minor injuries and refused treatment.

Bruner-Yang on Thursday wouldn’t comment further, but when asked when he plans to open Maketto, the long-awaited retail and restaurant space on H Street NE, he answered, “sooner rather than later.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post said that Eric Bruner-Yang and his wife attended drug and alcohol treatment program. The court ordered only that they undergo drug and alcohol testing.



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Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.



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