Sustainability Sushi – thought leaders

BycatchLast year we ran a series of posts about sustainable sushi, outlining the major issues and attempting to paint the picture for those unfamiliar with the topic. Now we hope to continue down that path by introducing some of the thought leaders who are helping to shape the sustainable seafood discussions, and leading by example. I’m not talking about those decrying the sad reality, but rather those forging ahead and making progress.

Bun Lai runs the Miyas Sushi restaurant in New Haven, CT. Sustainable sushi was not the stated goal when this restaurant was finding it’s place in the culinary world. The goals of Miyas Sushi’s unique menu are reducing environmental impact, shying away from seafood caught using destructive methods and encouraging the consumption of sustainable foods.

But there’s more to it than that; this is not some hippie granola bar with three customers. Miyas is a thriving business and one look at their menu makes it clear why they are succeeding. Creativity is the reason you’ll eat there – even with staples like toro and unagi conspicuously absent from the menu.

And that cuts right to the heart of the matter – small sushi restaurants often don’t have the luxury to experiment with “new” sushi items and purge the classic favorites from their menus. They need help phasing out many favorites from their menus in favor of locally sourced and sustainable choices without losing their existing customer base.

Miyas Sushi has crafted a wonderful menu that proves the viability of sustainable sushi. Furthermore Miyas demonstrates how we can intelligently interpret themes from this great cuisine in the context of a world where industrial-scale fishing can wipe out fish stocks from huge swaths of ocean in a single season. Destructive fishing methods, damaging fish farming and plain old overfishing are forcing change; Miyas illustrates a path of progress that others can follow. Sushi is popular, but the enormous demand for certain seafood items is forcing us to rethink they way we eat sushi.

Bun defines the modernist movement in sushi; classic sushi themes interpreted onto a set of sustainable food choices. So coming next is our interview with Bun Lai, where this author thinks you’ll get a glimpse of the future of sushi.

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  • Sushi Stu says:

    I hear that the Japanese have lifted the ban on blue fin tuna. Bad times if you’re a Tuna fish…

  • mdw says:

    Stu, yeah the Japanese have been most uncooperative with respect to all attempts to declare Atlantic Bluefin endangered or to put strict limits on catches of many tuna populations. Very similar to whaling issues, in that the Japanese do not want the rest of the world telling them they can’t continue to catch and eat these creatures as they see fit.

    I believe it’s important to respect Japanese culture and tradition, and to make it clear that we’re sensitive to that. However, when it comes to the global commons that is our oceans, we must all consider their future together. The oceans must be fished in a more sustainable way and Japan will need to change.

  • sushi stu says:

    I agree completely, the oceans are nobody’s, especially when they are overfished….

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for educating on this subject. Bun is an amazing inspiration to us sushi chefs as he leads by example!


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