by ELIZABETH LICATA
IT'S TAKEN KEVIN AND STEPHANIE
Lin just a few years to grow their business
from a grocery store with takeout to an
acclaimed Asian eatery with three locations (Niagara Street in Buffalo, Main Street
in Williamsville, and a downtown Market
Arcade kiosk), but behind those years are
decades of training and hard work, including stints in Toyko and Queens.
The Lins have made a distinctive mark on the
Buffalo dining scene in two major ways. First is
their introduction of Burmese food. When they
arrived in the area, in 1997, Western New York's
Burmese population was negligible. Between
2002–2015, however, over 12,000 Burmese
arrived in Buffalo; this became one of reasons
Kevin Lin decided to open the first restaurant
serving Burmese dishes such as own no kok-sware (chicken coconut noodle soup), Burmese
chicken curry, and fish cake salad. In addition
to Burmese and Thai specialties—and a wide
variety of fusion dishes—Sun added a black rice
menu in 2013. Black rice is said to be a highly nutritious grain, loaded with protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. At Sun, it is
formed into sushi and served in salads. Sun's vegetarian black rice pods and rolls are beloved by
those looking for healthy alternatives to what's
usually available from the Asian takeout scene.
The black rice menu also allows Kevin Lin to
show off his impressive sushi preparation skills,
acquired during his years in Tokyo and as a sushi
contractor here in Buffalo. The combination of
Asian cuisines found at Sun reflect Kevin Lin's
ability to adapt to the changing desires of his
customers. As he says, "I communicate with customers face to face every day."
Elizabeth Licata is editor of Spree; this article
includes material from an earlier Spree report on Sun.