Inside Union Market, a fruitful hive is brewing at Erik Bruner-Yang’s Honeycomb. Erik has created a grocery nest where Isaiah Billington and Sarah Conezio, head chefs, generate an alchemical variety of fermented sauces, vinegars, pickles, and various pastries. Originating from Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, Isaiah and Sarah bring their superior culinary expertise as pastry chef and chef de cuisine to this local Asian grocery. Erik, Isaiah, and Sarah are on a mission to change the way Washingtonians think about their pantry by providing procured goods from Asia, as well as fresh and local produce that reflects a menu of seasonal sustainability.
The aesthetic of the market stall is a handsome, wood finish (created by Criston Mize of Septcarres, a design and build firm) with an interior of carefully curated items to intrigue the passer-by. Erik’s vision of the grocery is creating a small incubator by making all of the products in-house. The philosophy behind Honeycomb is to marry classic Asian techniques to create Asian-inspired pantry items and products with ingredients sourced locally from the Mid-Atlantic and Chesapeake Watershed. Sarah refers to the homemade products as their “Research and Development.” She takes a bite of an experimental fermented rice biscuit dripping with butter-yellow Japanese honey – savoring the explanation of her favorite Chinese New Year dessert, a pineapple jam-cake. The jams are just a part of their various offerings at Honeycomb.
Sarah proudly shows the kimchi products, which she clarifies any leftover scraps are used to make many other items sold, like Furikake – a dry Japanese seasoning, and Gochugang – a fermented pepper paste. She proceeds to show the display of black vinegars, locally sourced rice, and buckwheat tofu.
Circling the stall, it is easy to appreciate the just some of Erik’s favorite items and it’s not hard to see why this spot is buzz worthy – Just don’t forget to stop by the Toki Underground pop-up a couple stalls down, with Maketto’s chef de cuisine James Wozniuk. James makes a Cambodian version of Pho – kuy-tiev and fluffy over-stuffed pork bao. It’s undoubtedly unique and a favorite in the city. Needless to say, Erik and his team continue to impress and we all eagerly await the opening of Maketto.