Sustainable, Impactful, Thought-Provoking, Delicious Sushi.
New Haven, Connecticut.
Opening in 1982, Miya has gone on to be recognized as Top 3 Most Sustainable Restaurants, Top 10 Healthiest Restaurants, and was even featured on SNL for notoriously serving cicadas (yum).
The menu is a story book; detailing how dishes are inspired, sources of ingredients, and the importance of sustainable and plant-based eating.
The ‘Our Cuisine’ section reeled me in immediately,
“In our cuisine, we use the technique of sushi as a medium to explore what it means to be a human. We take inspiration from a story that appears in the Hebrew Bible, the Quran, and Ethiopian folklore about the Queen of Sheba traveling from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to seek the counsel of King Solomon. Upon arrival, she gave him spices from her home to honor him. This gift was incredibly meaningful; she was sharing with him the smells and tastes of her homeland. King Solomon has never before experiences cumin, chili, fenugreek, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice, and the Queen of Sheba offered him the very essence of her far away home for consumption. Food creates some of our most powerful memories; it can conjure up images and feelings of country, home, friends, and family. In each recipe of mine, ingredients from disparate cultures are combined, symbolizing what is possible when people of the world live in harmony with one another.”
And suddenly I found meaning in my love for food, for fusion, for sharing, for mixing, and for travel. Some other things I learned..
1. Invasive creatures – included in many dishes
Invasive creatures are the new kid. It can be a plant, fungus or an animal, which is not native to an area. Because they are so new, other creatures don’t acknowledge it’s existence, or know they can eat it. As a result, it just breeds, grows, eating other stuff, and totally messing up the balance of the local ecosystem. (Think of Cicadas in the Summer) Invasive species are a vast, untapped food resource.
Miya specifically creates a menu that involved the gathering, and eating of invasive species – nobody said the unknown new kid couldn’t be nutritious and delicious.
“Eating invasive species can curb the dominance of invasive species in the ecosystem, provide the seafood industry a greater supply of native seafood and reduce the stress on over fished populations and create a better balance in the inter-regenerative relationship between man and the ocean.”
2. Sushi: Healthy & Affordable
(Ever see a Sushi restaurant in the hood? .. Ever see an affordable sushi restaurant ever?)
Many larger fish are over-fished and have a dangerously high accumulation of PCBs and mercury. Miya’s menu offers fish that are more affordable and abundant such as catfish, trout, tilapia, arctic char, mussels, clams and squid.
Here’s an excerpt from the menu..
“One of the most significant challenges for humanity is to make high-quality food available to everyone. In the United States, the biggest challenge for the sustainable and organic food movement has been to make food affordable.
Good food is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. My goal with the “Sushi for the Masses” menu is to make the highest-quality food, made with the highest-level care and artistry; available to all people. Our aware-winning restaurant will never exclude anyone because they cannot afford to eat here.
When Marie Antoinette supposedly said, “Let them eat cake,” without compassion for those who did not even have bread, a revolution over food began that took her head with it.
In the great dynasties of China, a sure sign that the emperor had lost the mandate of heaven was when famine struck his people. Invariably, that dynasty would come to a violent end.
As the wealthiest nation on Earth, it is our duty to make sure that all of our brothers and sister, from all around the world, are well-fed.
..Good food cannot be classist.”
3. DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR FOOD! (my #1 pet peeve)
Fun Fact: 1/3 of all food produced in the world goes to waste. Restaurants in the U.S. waste 135 million pounds of food per day.
Chef Bun Lai has found a solution, using only leftover ingredients from the dinner rush, he creates a late night sushi platter – only $6.50. Another reason to love this place.
4. Plant-Based Diet Can/Will Change the World
Chef Bun Lai: “I created the largest vegetarian sushi menu in the world because I believe that a plant-based diet is the healthiest one for people living in wealthy nations. Over-consumption of meat has lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer becoming the norm in our country. We do not serve beef or pork in our restaurant because they are inefficient, inhumane and ecologically damaging sources of animal protein.” – read this Huffington Post article for more
Basically, the restaurant is amazing, Chef Bun Lai is amazing, and New Haven is awesome. Stay Tuned.