Imaginary Sushi: Miya’s in New Haven

July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013
Spent a day on the water with Bun Lai, whose restaurant, Miya’s Sushi, was nominated for a James Beard Award, earlier this year. After flipping some rocks and gathering periwinkles, green crabs, and Asian shore crabs, we went out and grabbed some dead man’s fingers, Codium fragile, off of Bun’s boat.

Ate them all on an outcrop in Long Island Sound. I had no idea that Codium could be so tasty–Bun turned this invader into “marine bruschetta.” A memorable invasive feast, with writer Rowen Jacobsen, photographer Andrew Hetherington, and anthropologist Annie Claus, among others.

October 8, 2012
Returned to Miya’s Sushi last week. New to Bun Lai’s menu was lionfish, Pterois volitans, the rapidly expanding invader now found from Rhode Island to Venezuela. The sashimi was pearly white and firm, lightly seasoned with Kiribati sea salt.

Bun was preparing to cater the wedding of James Prosek (the artist and angler) and making arrangements to have a vocational school come out to the restaurant. At one point, he sat down at his usual table. His girlfriend complained about the salad dressing. His mom told him, in Japanese, that his food wasn’t very good. His womenfolk set a very high bar.

Thanks to Bun Lai for a delicious, inspiring night!

November 28, 2011
We visited Miya’s Sushi in New Haven this weekend.  It was a culinary highlight of the year.  Having spent a few years studying the intertidal zone of New England, I never thought there was anything you could do about the Asian shore crab, a tiny new invader to the East Coast.  How wrong I was.

Bun Lai creates imaginary sushi, much of his fifty-two page menu is pure fantasy, never having been prepared.  (I thought of Jorge Luis Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings or Dictionary of the Khazars.) But what he does make is inspired and sustainable. No shrimp or toro served here.

Here is how he describes his Asian shore crab creation. As much a work of art, with the crabs perched atop the rolls like pirates, as a dinner plate.

KANIBABA
A roll of asian shore crab, hand-caught and well-seasoned, dungeness crab, spinach, all stuffed in potato skin infused with asian shore crab stock and topped with toasted havarti cheese and a lemon dill sauce

“Asian Shore Crabs are an invasive species of crab that migrated to North America in the ballasts of ships in the 1980’s. They are aggressive predators that are disliked by fishermen for voraciously consuming the larvae of shellfish. I have designed the Kanibaba to resemble one of Connecticut’s many craggy sea shores that the Asian Shore Crab inhabits today. This dish is served on a locally collected volcanic ocean rock. Sip the ocean flavored Ultra Violet Kisses Sake while experiencing this dish, and you will be able to imagine yourself as an Asian Shore Crab.”

To learn more about Bun, check out his website, Call Me Bun. Read an excerpt of his invasive species menu here.

Kanibaba: Bun Lai serves up Asian shore crabs in New Haven.

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