This creepy crawler is ready to be eaten.
This creepy crawler is ready to be eaten.
Courtesy of Prey

Prey Pops Up at 1 Hotel With Invasive Species on the Menu

Think about the term "invasive species." Just the sound of it is enough to make you quiver. 

Eerie creatures you never thought you'd encounter, much less stick in your mouth, are among a variety of eco-conscious menu items available at Prey, an Asian-inspired pop-up at the 1 Hotel South Beach

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Conceived by chef Bun Lai, Prey fuses sustainable seafood, plant-based products, and invasive species to create a variety of meal pairings using items such as carp ribs, roast feral pig, lionfish, and crickets in Brie cheese. 

Bun plans to supply his own fish for the pop-up eatery by hunting and diving for invasive species found anywhere from Long Island Sound to the Everglades.

The inspiration stems from Bun's theory that if diners choose to eat invasive species, it will help restore balance to habitats destroyed by them, because invasive species are nonnative plants or animals that cause harm to a specific environment. 

Chef Bun Lai
Chef Bun Lai
Courtesy of Prey

Bun believes food should be appealing and appetizing but also sustain our bodies and our environment. Because humans have damaged predator-and-prey relationships through factors such as habitat destruction, overcrowding, overfishing, and overharvesting wild animals, eating invasive species helps to reverse the destruction.

Prey's menu resembles a storybook more than a food list. Its blue water-colored pages begin with the pop-up's history, inspiration, and relationship to invasive species.

Each menu item, which includes a brief explanation of ingredients used and their significance, is placed in a category: sakes, handcrafted cocktails, veggies, invasive fish, plant-based dishes, and unconventional sushi pairings that incorporate animal ingredients not commonly found in sushi. Think Texas antelope and wild hog.  

Some of Bun's more peculiar plates include finger-lickin' fish ribs, seasoned in baked ginger guava and made with invasive Asian carp known to destroy indigenous fish stocks in Kentucky; wild Texas antelope sushi; and cerdoimperialista, which uses roast pork from a feral hog, one of the most destructive invasive species in America. The pork is wrapped in potato skin and topped with cheese, curry, and a sunny-side-up egg.

If you thought it couldn't get any more bizarre, think again. Crickets and cheese are on the menu too, representing beef and dairy, the two most destructive foods for humans and the environment. 

Prey marks Bun's first restaurant beyond Miya's, his family's 35-year-old eatery in New Haven, Connecticut, which is considered the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. 

Prey Pops Up at 1 Hotel With Invasive Species on the Menu
Courtesy of Prey

Through his beachside pop-up, Bun will take Miya's eco-friendly dining outside of New Haven and into Miami's budding culinary scene, coinciding with the 15th anniversary of South Beach Wine & Food Festival. 

"What he is bringing to Miami is something that has never been done before," says Barry Sternlicht, founder of 1 Hotels. 

"My oldest son would rave about Miya's in New Haven," Sternlicht says. "After my first dining experience at the family-owned restaurant, I was astonished — not only is Bun himself living the sustainable mantra of his cuisine, but his food is also exciting, unique, inspiring, and really good."

Prey's dishes range from $8 to $35. In addition to its à la carte menu, prix-fixe, late-night, and omakase tasting menus will be available too.  

The pop-up will be open through April 25. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For reservations, call 305-604-1000.

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