About Miya’s

Established by mom in 1982
Because man cannot live on rice alone

68 Howe Street New Haven, CT

“On Friday, because the universe requires such meetings, I introduced ———– to Miya’s, the home of weird sushi in New Haven. This is a restaurant where you can order rolls made with curried tuna, goat cheese and cranberries; or krill, mozzarella, honey, banana, and burdock; or shrimp, potato skins, and havarti cheese; and they work. Do they ever. And they are all named things like the Water Piglet Roll, the Bad Tempered Geisha Boy, the Bestu James Bondo Ever Roll…You get the idea. We ordered a plethora of sushi based generally on the strangeness of their components (and the occasional classical Japanese literary reference) and were not disapointed. I should have stolen a menu so I could describe precisely what we got and what went into it, but I was particularly impressed by whatever ————- ordered that flat-out shouldn’t have worked–it was krill, mozzarella, et cetera deal and Gaudior’s vegetarian roll with havarti cheese. This is a restaurant that has a record of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly in the ladies’ room and never worries about anyone stealing it. Miya’s is worth its insane expense.” Savoy. 2006

CHAPTER 1

Grandma, Mom & Me in Hong Kong

Okasan

In 1982, mama opened New Haven county’s first sushi bar. The restaurant was named Miya, after her baby daughter. This restaurant was the culmination of her life’s ambition.

My grandfather had owned a successful lumber company and my mother dreamed of doing business with him when she was old enough. In the 1950′s, little girls from the countryside in Japan weren’t encouraged to pursue careers in business. Grandpa would sigh and compliment her, “if only you were a boy, you would make a great businessman.” She wished that things were different; it wasn’t fair being a girl.

In New Haven, cooking in a tiny apartment kitchen on Prospect Street, she put her university degree in nutrition to use by starting a catering business which would eventually become Miya’s. After almost thirty years in business, my mother is still as passionate about Miya’s as when she first began.

Often when I return from my trips, I find myself stunned by all of the improvements that my mother continues to make with the restaurant. More than anyone, she continues to drive Miya’s full speed ahead. “Maybe I will run a marathon,” she thought aloud to me the other day. I didn’t doubt she could, not even for a second.

“Then all around from far away across the world he smelled good things
to eat so he gave up being king of where the wild things are”
-Maurice Sendak

CHAPTER 2

boku

When I was little, living in Kyushu, Japan, my Grandmother would pickle green plums and cucumbers in ceramic pots as big as laundry hampers. We would eat these pickles at every meal with steamed rice, misoshiru, and fish so fresh that their eyes shimmered like a young John Travolta’s.

I often miss my grandmother and Japan but I’m also so grateful for the worldly journey that my parents have allowed my life to become in America.

This cuisine is indebted to my mother, who is Japanese and to my father, who is Chinese. It is because of their differences that I adore and appreciate cultural diversity.

Just as importantly, this cuisine has been molded by everybody who has ever touched me in my life. This menu is my love letter to humanity. Thank you all for the love!

CHAPTER 3

In my cuisine, I use the technique of sushi as a medium to explore what it means to be human. I take inspiration from a story that appears in the Hebrew Bible, the Quran, and in 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 the tastes of her homeland. King Solomon had never before experienced cumin, chili, fenugreek, cloves, cinnamon and allspice, and the Queen of Sheba offered him the very essence of her faraway home for consumption. Food creates some of our most powerful memories; it can conjure up images and feelings of country, home, friends and family. Food is culture. Food bonds people intimately. 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.

We are aware that the restaurant industry has a very harmful impact on the environment; in particular, the traditional cuisine of sushi is destroying our oceans. Therefore, we try to maintain a restaurant in as ecologically responsible manner as possible. We do our best to not use ingredients that are either overfished or that in their production have a negative impact on the environment. As a result, half of our vast menu is vegetable-centered; the other half does not utilize standard sushi ingredients such as tuna, shrimp, farmed eel, yellowtail and farmed salmon. Instead, we’ve created dishes that include hyper-local sustainable seafood not conventionally used for sushi such as clams, oysters, mussels, ladies slippers, Asian shore crabs, European shore crabs, trout, catfish, bluegill sunfish, bluefish, scup, sea robins and dogfish.

What’s unusual about the sushi rice? Our original whole multigrain recipe is toothy, tasty and super healthy. Historically, vinegar, salt and sugar were added to fish and rice, as a method of preservation, in a time when there was no refrigeration. Though there is no longer the practical necessity to add these preservatives, they remain elements in the contemporary cuisine of sushi. Sushi rice today is highly processed and sweetened, much like the Wonder Bread many of us grew up eating. Inspired by whole multigrain breads, my recipe for sushi rice is unsweetened and made from a brown rice centered multigrain mixture containing quinoa, amaranth, oat grains and flax seed. Quinoa and amaranth provide all the essential amino acids needed to be a complete protein. Whole oats have more fiber than any other grain and help lower high blood pressure. Ground flax seed supplies nearly double the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids per calorie than any food in the world. Since most of my sushi involves robust flavors, the hearty grain mixtures carry my recipes in a way that traditional sushi rice could not.

Where does our produce come from? Most of our fruits and vegetables are connecticut or new england grown and are organic. The chicken and the rabbit that we use for a few of our recipes are animal welfare approved and organically pasteur raised. Most of our cheeses are organic and are also made in Connecticut or in New England. Fortunately, the most delicious ingredients tend to be the most sustainable too!

Why does the pickled ginger look different? It looks different because we make it without the food coloring or artificial flavors used in most commercial ginger. Our ginger is hand cut and boiled in four changes of water and then is pickled in vinegar, honey and agave nectar.

What is the secret to our soy sauce? Our soy sauce is our own citrus blend that is lower in sodium than any commercial reduced sodium soy sauce. I created it because traditional soy sauce is so salty that it overwhelms the food that is dipped into it.

Do our recipes contain gluten? We realize that many people have gluten sensitivities so I am, currently, working on transitioning most of our recipes into gluten-free ones.

Since most of us use tools such as forks and chopsticks to eat, there is a sensual disconnect that happens between us and our food. I think it would be awesome if everybody at at Miya’s with their fingers.

I hope that our work at Miya’s is as soulfully nourishing as it is delicious.

I put my hands together and bow to you,

Bun

5 thoughts on “About Miya’s

  1. Hi Bun,
    I’d very much love to experience your creations sometime. I looked up your website after reading the piece in this week’s New Yorker regarding invasive species and noticing the name
    of the restaurant, Miya’s, which is my daughter’s name. Her mother is Japanese, from Niigata, whom I met many years ago while doing some work there.
    My daughter was excited to learn of someone else named Miya and wonders if it is mispronounced as often as her’s is. People consistently pronounce it Maya. To her
    consternation.
    Hope to find our way to your restaurant sometime. It sounds oishii.

  2. Went to Miyas for the first time last week..Cannot wait to go back. It was delish and the energy was great there. Loved the food but your Jasmine tea was the best. Treated so well there. See you soon. Namaste!

  3. Pingback: Home Again, Home Again « Explat

  4. This sounds truly awesome I am tempted to taste your cuisine. Therefore look out here i come

  5. Hi, Bun -

    Interesting to read your life story and philosophy behind the restaurant and food.

    Just wanted to let you know you had a couple of typos so you could correct them -
    1) “organically pasteur raised” – should be “pasture,” not like Louis Pasteur
    2) “it would be awesome if everybody at at Miya’s with their fingers.” – “ate”

    Looking forward to eating there in a few weeks!

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