Friday, April 11, 2014

Sake, Sushi, and Shandies: A Visit to Miya's Sushi in New Haven

I took a trip to New Haven this week to check out Miya's Sushi. The chef, Bun Lai, was recently featured in Outdoor Magazine for his innovative use of generally overlooked plants and animals, which is too intriguing not to make the drive. 
After being seated, we were each treated to a flight of 5 different house-infused sakes: spicy honey sake, pickled ginger sake, a sweet/berry sake, a pinecone sake, and a bright green pine needle sake. Our two clear favorites were the ginger and the pine needle, and our enthusiastic server brought us a drink he had invented: half beer, half ginger sake over ice. It was like a tangy twist on a shandy, and quite refreshing! 
Our server, a young man named Brendan, was an absolute pleasure. He was patient with our questions even though he was clearly busy, and I thought it was great that he offered a drink he had come up with himself. 
Then the food started to arrive. First, pumpkin miso soup with slow roasted pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and acorn squash. It offered an interesting combination of sweet and savory flavors, but the use of winter vegetables made it more suitable for a crisp fall evening.

Next, a salad of bitter greens tossed with Miya's own wild ramp and basil dressing. The greens were reminiscent of dandelion greens, and the slightly nutty dressing was a good counterpart to the bitterness of the fresh greens. 

The sushi, dish after dish, 8 in total, arrived. Clockwise from top right: scallops, crispy fava bean tempura seasoned with home grown chilis, Iranian ghormeh sabze, and avocado; a grape leaf wrapped roll of eggplant, avocado, pickled radish, scallions, and hot pepper drizzled with olive oil; a coconut covered roll of Alaskan shrimp, cantaloupe, burdock root, and cream cheese; Fava bean tempura broccoli, roasted garlic, and black beans.

 We were both struck by how similar all the rolls tasted despite such extensive ingredients. 

Clockwise from top right: eggplant, okra, goat cheese, apricots, avocado, pickled radish, chives, and Ethiopian berbere spice mix; figs, dates, raisins, goat cheese, roasted barley, pomegranate, cinnamon, spicy red pepper, honey, pistachio, extra virgin olive oil, manna/broccoli (The menu explained, "this roll utilizes the Seven Species of the Hebrew Bible and broccoli, beloved by Jews everywhere."); cauliflower and scallions wrapped in potato, topped with toasted jersey cow’s milk cheese and lemon dill aioli sauce, a California roll made with real Maryland blue crab meat and sliced avocado, drizzled with curry sauce. 
The California roll was the favorite by far, and the curry sauce was a nice twist on such a standard roll. 
Next, a beautifully presented nice spice tilapia sashimi seasoned with a spicy citrus soy sauce and green onions. It was just spicy enough to still allow the delicate fish to shine through. 
Lastly, a trio of offerings: scallop, mackerel, and a spicy white fish (sorry to say I cannot recall what it was). The scallop was much "slimier" than what I have experienced in the past, but tasted very light and fresh. 

The meal ended with a dessert roll: fermented, sundried banana, cashew butter, strawberries, chocolate, and homemade, hand-pounded mochi, topped with baby scoops of rose petal ice cream. I can only describe it as a journey of flavors; the cold, sweet ice cream is the first thing you can taste, then it melts and blends with the chocolate, and as you keep chewing you finish with banana flavor. I have not experienced anything like it.
As we departed, happily full of unique sake (thank you, Miya's, for the treat), we couldn't help but comment on the lack of "invasive species," something the chef is known for utilizing, and the reason we had wanted to check Miya's out.  There is a menu dedicated to invasives, so we may have to return and try it out. 

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