About Bun Lai

About Bun Lai

Bun Lai of Miya's Sushi
Bun Lai is an Asian American chef, environmentalist and social activist who is passionate about climate change, sustainable living practices and rethinking the way “life should be lived and business should be done.” He is the owner and chef of Miya’s which is the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. Miya’s also has the largest vegetarian sushi menu in the world. In 1995 Bun Lai created the ubiquitous sweet potato roll that is served in every sushi restaurant in America and beyond. Miya’s also offers the world’s only invasive species menu, featuring dishes made of foraged ingredients that are threatening to the region’s indigenous species.
Bun Lai is an avid diver and fisherman who supplies his own restaurant with hyper local sustainable seafood from his own hundred acres of shell-fishing grounds off of the Thimble Islands in Connecticut. He is the owner of two fishing boats which serve as laboratories for sustainable seafood production. Central to the Miya’s menu are culturally and commercially unpopular types of seafood that are abundantly locally available such as silver sides, sea robins, wild seaweeds (invasive dead man’s fingers/codium fragile) and fouling organisms such as tunicates.
He is the regular host of the prestigious Miya’s Idea Dinners where his goal is to connect an interdisciplinary group of people whose passion it is to make a positive change in the world.
He was born in Hong Kong, the son of Yoshiko Lai, a Japanese nutritionist and restaurateur, and Dr. Yin Lok Lai, a Chinese surgeon and Cambridge University educated professor. In New Haven, he attended The Foote School and Hamden Hall Country Day School. He majored in International Relations at Ursinus College, where he wrestled. In 2008, he cornered Sally Roberts to the finals of the National tournament and the Olympic trials. He has coached numerous state and New England Champions as the head coach of Hamden Hall Wrestling.
In 2010 he was a keynote speaker at the Foote School graduation ceremony along with Google’s Nathan Tyler. In 2011 he became one of the first five people to ever receive the Hamden Hall Alumni Excellence Award.
In 2001, he was featured in a commercial for Carlesberg Beer. Bun has delivered food for Meals on Wheels and has, also, cooked and served in soup kitchens. He has, also, worked for the Leap and numerous nonprofit children and family programs.
Bun Lai is the 2010 recipient of the Elm Ivy Award, the key to the city of New Haven, bestowed by the city and Yale University to individuals and organizations that have enhanced the many partnerships and collaborative endeavors between the university and its host city.
Bun Lai is the recipient of the prestigious 2011 Seafood Ambassador Award from Monterey Bay Aquarium for his leadership in the Sustainable Seafood movement.
On October 25, 2010 Bun Lai was honored as “Greatest Person of the Day” by the Huffington Post for being an “exceptional individual who is confronting the country’s economic and political crises with creativity, generosity, and passion.”
On November 4, 2010 Ecosalon named Bun Lai as one of their “11 Eco-Chefs Who Are Changing The Way We Think About Food”.
In June of 2011 Brendan Smith of Thimble Island Oyster Company and Bun Lai launched Connecticut’s first Community Supported Fishery. Currently they are creating Long Island’s first seaweed farm with seaweed expert Dr. Charles Yarish on their two hundred acre of ocean grounds in Connecticut.
Bun Lai is a sought after speaker. He has spoken at Google, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Yale University, Wesleyan University, New York University, The Museum of the City of New York and most recently at the Department of Agriculture.
In 2011 Bun Lai has also been featured on Food Network; Food and Wine Magazine; Saveur Magazine; Prevention Magazine and The New York Times.
In September of 2011 he was the a keynote speaker at the biggest fisheries event in the world, the American Fishery Society’s 141st Annual Meeting which was held in Seattle.