Miya's Brings The White House Champions of Change Menu to New Haven During Restaurant Week Oct 30-Nov 4

Stephanie Webster

Miya's in New Haven recently won The 2016 WHITE HOUSE CHAMPION OF CHANGE FOR SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD award. Chef and owner, Bun Lai, is sharing a few dishes from this special dinner during New Haven's upcoming Restaurant Week, October 30-November 4. Bun says this about the menu (view White House menu below)...

In honor of every person in every part of the worldwide sustainability movement, this Miya’s NEW HAVEN RESTAURANT WEEK menu will feature a handful of my favorite award-winning sustainable seafood recipes featured at the Miya’s WHITE HOUSE CHAMPIONS of CHANGE dinner that I hosted. A top challenge to the sustainability movement is to make the healthiest food affordable and accessible to all. It is my humble assessment that our mother’s modest little restaurant has accomplished that. 

Miya's was opened in 1983 by Bun's mother and was the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the world, specializing in nutrition and food access, sustainable seafood, plant-based sushi, and the utilization of edible invasive species. Miya’s New Haven Restaurant Week menu is a big bite out of the Miya’s White House Champions of Change menu. Bun wanted to share the experience that he created for the White House Champions of Change dinner with our community that supported Miya's over so many decades of experimentation and innovation.

White House Menu Below


Applewood smoked invasive Asian carp ribs.

Ronny Hopkin’s and his family, have been fishing throughout the rivers of Kentucky for over a century. Today, Ronny and his family fish for Asian carp since the proliferation of this invasive fish has destroyed native fish stocks and threatened their livelihoods. Asian carp lay half a million eggs at at time, can grow up to a hundred pounds, and are voracious filter feeders that out compete other fish for plankton, which supports the entire aquatic food chain.  Asian carp is the greatest threat to the multi-billion dollar Great Lakes fishery. It is, also, among the healthiest fish to eat. As a filter feeder, it contains less contaminants than carnivores fish and is high in Omega 3 fatty acids.  

Barack is a Swahili name meaning “blessed” with Arabic and Hebrew origins. Blessed Barack of Ribs are blessed by all of us who could use a another chance.


Chesapeake Bay invasive blue catfish, okra, apricots, and black eye peas.

Thousands of years ago, sushi wasn’t the ocean-based international cuisine that it is today. It was a fresh water-centered way of food preparation that included species such as catfish. The biggest catfish in the world is the 600-pound Mekong River Catfish. In this recipe, in lieu of this giant, ecologically destructive but healthy-to-eat invasive blue catfish is used.

Blue ca  tfish can weigh a hundred pounds and have come to dominate the biodiversity of the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Despite the abundance of domestic invasive catfish, Americans continue to consume imported farmed catfish of questionable quality.

This recipe, which incorporates ingredients that are native to Africa, is inspired by the African origins all people, and is a reminder that, despite our differences, we are all family, and family is everything.  


Florida Lionfish, mineral-rich Kiribati sea salt, spices.

Lionfish are indigenous to the Indo-Pacific. After being released from aquariums, lionfish established themselves in the Atlantic off of the East Coast of the U.S. and throughout the Caribbean. Protected by venomous spines, lionfish is voracious apex predator that has damaged the biodiversity of many reef ecosystems. In Jamaica, where lionfish has become a popular seafood, lionfish sightings have dropped by 66%.

The island nation of Kiribati is located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. It is one of the world’s poorest countries with few natural resources, other than the salt from the ocean around it. At only 8 to 12 feet above sea level, Kiribati may become the first nation to be completely swallowed by the ocean due to climate change. Climate change will hurt the poorest people on Earth first, such as the inhabitants of Kiribati.

We created this recipe utilizing Kiribati sea salt and spices to create a warmth followed by a coolness of one’s palate as a metaphor for climate change. It is served on  driftwood which symbolizes the olive branch brought back by the dove to Noah as the flood began to subside. Finally, the lionfish is garnished with a a wild weed that reaches up to the heavens, symbolizing every living creature’s desire to survive and thrive.   


Asian shore crab cross a potato skin stuffed with invasive blue catfish topped with toasted Vermont Creamery cow’s milk cheese, and lemon dill sauce.

Asian shore crabs are an invasive species of crab that migrated to North America in the ballasts of ships in the 1980s. It has infested craggy intertidal habitats along the East Coast from Maine to Florida. It is able to thrive in a wide range of temperatures and competes with native crabs and fish for micro-algae and other smaller edible animals and plants.

Around 2001, Yancey (who was then a Yale undergrad and a Miya’s waiter) and I were flipping rocks only a few miles from Miya’s, along a beach, much the way my little brother and I used to when we were kids. Speedy tiny crabs we had never seen before fled like the cockroaches. Unlike the German variety of cockroach which one probably should never put in one’s mouth and are an invasive species too, we discovered that Asian shore crabs were actually tasty.  Shortly afterwards, Asian shore crabs would become the first invasive species on the Miya’s menu.  

Created with Dr. Yancey Orr, Yale College 2001, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Queensland.  


Roasted sesame seasoned local kelp.  Kelp compliments of Bren Smith.

Freshwater is a rapidly diminishing resource, but unlike terrestrial farming, seaweed requires no freshwater. Worldwide, 5 billion pounds of pesticide are sprayed onto crops each year. Seaweed, however, requires no pesticide. No fertilizer and no arid land is required either, making seaweed the most sustainable crop in the world. Climate change is the top environmental challenge humanity faces today. Seaweed, often called the "sequoia of the sea," sequesters more than 5 times the heat-trapping carbon dioxide of land based plants. 

Bren Smith’s Thimble Island Ocean Farm is used to train new regenerative ocean farmers through his not-for-profit, Green Wave, in his 3D ocean farming model. Bren Smith is the recipient of the 2015 Buckminster Fuller Award for ecological design. 


Step back in time, with one bite- the onigiri is the way sushi was made thousands of years ago, using wild and abundant ingredients from close by and molded by hand into easy-to-eat rice balls.

Mugwort, introduced to the new world by the European colonists is a medicinal herb believed by indigenous peoples worldwide to inspire dreams and visions.  Mugwort, like most wild plants, is exponentially more delicious than cultivated plant. 

Mugwort is a major agricultural weed, that is often treated with pesticides, and should be utilized as food instead. 5 billion pounds of pesticides/herbicides are sprayed on farms, parks, and gardens, and even schools, each year causing many types of cancer, and reproductive and endocrine dysfunctions. Pesticides are found in the water we drink, the air we breathe, the soil we grow our food in, the food we eat, and in breast milk too.

*Mugwort is a powerful medicinal herb that should not be consumed by pregnant women.


As-salāmu ʿalaykum السلام عليكم

Roasted eggplant, avocado, and smoked jalapeño vegan cashew cheese, and za’atar (Arabic زعتر , Hebrew זעתר, Armenian զահթար) herb medley that dates back to biblical times - the Old Testament’s hyssop that King David mentioned as part of a spiritual cleansing ritual is thought by many scholars to have been za’atar.

As-salāmu alaykumā translates to “peace be upon you” in Arabic. SUSHI SALAM was created in the hope that one day we will live in a world without violence and retribution