Long gone is the notion that sushi, in all of its various interpretations, is exotic cuisine. Though still a fine delicacy in the right hands, the humble roll has also undergone detrimental adaptions to become easily accessible “fast food,” palatable to the crudest of tastes and tightest of budgets. Somewhere in the middle of that spectrum falls the everyday sort of sushi, an option that most people can imagine grabbing after a long day’s work, pretense not attached. Despite the nearly universal acceptance of this concept, once verboten due to the shocking raw fish at the heart of the concept, it still shocks some people that a vegan might partake as well. Composed not of uncooked aquatic creatures, but any fresh veggies under the sun, one would think that vegetable sushi should be brainlessly simple, not to mention far more budget-friendly for restaurateurs and diners alike. Alas, typically restricted to limp cucumbers and rapidly browning, mushy avocado, the vegetable rolls rarely impress, and fall depressingly short of their full potential.
Though I rarely feature local eateries, Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, CT is one place that anyone can take inspiration from, even if a trip there is out of the question. Boasting the most expansive and creative vegan sushi menu I know of, this is one restaurant where I know that I will not only be able to find a decent meal, but one worth remembering. Additionally, Miya’s holds the title as one of the most sustainable sushi stops in the US, an honor of no small importance even to those not partaking in the pescetarian options.
Flamboyant names like Charlie Chan’s Ching Chong Roll precede brilliantly filled bundles of their signature multigrain rice. Not the most descriptive perhaps, but one taste of the flavorful broccoli, roasted garlic, and black bean combo tucked within, and the somewhat questionable title can easily be forgiven.
Not to be missed is the Killer Squid Roll, which seeks to approximate the chewy texture of squid tentacles with toothsome lengths of tempura-fried udon. Marinated in mushroom stock, they even posses that elusive umami quality so hard to attain without the bonito usually ubiquitous in Japanese cooking. Request additional whole mushrooms in this one for an savory experience worth dreaming about. Though originally not one I had intended to order, it may have ultimately been my favorite of the evening.
Eggplant may not sound like the most sushi-friend vegetable, but cooked to a meltingly tender state and accented with spicy miso, avocado, and scallions as in the Mount Fuji Roll, even eggplant-haters will be won over by this artfully seasoned rendition.
Unphotographed but not to be forgotten in the It’s a Great Pumpkin, Miso soup, one of the very few vegan miso soups out there, and easily the only that I’ve tasted which possess such a depth of flavor. Replete with tiny bites of sweet pumpkin, it’s a must for every time I visit.
Not all of the vegetable options are vegan, as many involve cheese, but the staff at Miya’s are patient and graciously open to making substitutions when asked. Don’t get stuck in a veggie sushi rut ever again- Try something different, don’t be afraid to experiment with unorthodox rolls! Just hearing some of their ideas makes me want to try them out in my own kitchen, so no matter where you are in the world, their menu can be a springboard of inspiration.