Overfishing has become a concern for environmental conservatives and foodies alike, as the future availability of fish species has been dwindling at alarming rates.
Mayanoki is looking to change the way we eat fish. As the first and only sustainable sushi restaurant in New York City, Mayanoki focuses on bringing ethically sourced ingredients to the table.
The idea is to always use sustainably caught local fish, and never serve threatened or endangered seafood. This rule of thumb earned them a stamp of approval from Monterey Bay's Seafood Watch. The James Beard Foundation's Smart Catch program has recognized Mayanoki’s sustainability practices, as well.
The menu switches around every night, based on the season and seafood availability. With only eight seats at the bar and two seatings slots per night, Chef Miller prepares the fish in front of a small group of diners while he teaches them about the ingredients throughout the interactive meal.
The traditional 15-piece omakase menu is constructed using only sustainably raised and ethically caught species, like porgy from Long Island, shrimp from ECO Shrimp Upstate New York, and mussels from Prince Edward Island. Even the by-products are put to good use. For example, Mayanoki's menu usually begins with oysters and the empty shells are donated to the Billion Oyster Project to help New York’s marine habitat bounce back.
Mayanoki's drinks are also in line with their sustainability goals. Most of the wines and ciders on the menu are sourced from nearby areas in New York state. The one exception to their local drinks is, of course, their junta sake, which hails from Japan.
The restaurant’s owners, Josh Arak and David Torchiano, were looking to create the best sushi possible. Their research kept bringing them back to sourcing fresh and sustainable seafood. Torchiano said, "Almost all other cuisines have embraced farm to table and seasonal sourcing of ingredients, and we believe the same approach should be applied to seafood and specifically sushi." While it was first a pop up in Brooklyn for four years, Mayanoki officially opened its doors in New York’s East Village in 2017.
To honor their mission, Mayanoki is planning an upcoming Earth Day event on April 22 where it will partner with The Safina Center, a non-profit organization that creates literature to encourage a closer relationship with nature. 35 percent of the proceeds from this event will go to the organization to help further educate people about our connection to the ocean.