White House Honors New Haven Sushi Chef for Sustainable Seafood | Connecticut Public Radio
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White House Honors New Haven Sushi Chef for Sustainable Seafood

Oct 6, 2016

One of the most unique dining experiences can be found at a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut and the owner and chef will be recognized by the White House for his innovation.

Miya’s sushi restaurant has won numerous awards for Bun Lai’s creative and original menu. He uses sustainable seafood, invasive species, and plant-based ingredients.

He’s now among 12 people from across the country being recognized as White House Champions of Change for Sustainable Seafood.

"One of the cool things is that it’s happening in a small city -- in the city that I grew up in," said Lai. "This is a city that embraced ever-evolving, changing, and innovative cuisine."

Lai’s commitment to sustainability has put the restaurant in the international spotlight making it the world’s first sustainable sushi restaurant.

But Miya’s innovative cuisine, which has included a special invasive species menu -- things like Asian shore crab, Japanese knotweed and tunicate -- hasn’t always been an easy sell.

"For years and years and years, as we were working on this cuisine, people would come into Miya’s, look at our menu and be like, 'Where’s the eel? Where’s the yellowtail? Where's the spicy tuna,'" Lai said. "So, for much of my career at Miya’s I’ve experienced a whole lot of people who really supported us in what we were doing. And a lot of people who would just look at our menu, and literally run out the door."

His food has been described as intensely creative.

Lai said it’s his medium of expression, which he’ll get to share during his White House visit. Not only is Lai being honored -- he’s preparing a private, post-ceremony dinner for about 300 people.

On the menu for the president and his guests is "Blessed Barack of Ribs," which contains applewood smoked invasive Asian carp ribs.