Interview by Michelle Holler:
In coming weeks we will be featuring a series of interviews that will help to tell the stories of the people who have opened businesses at the West Side Bazaar. The objective of the series is to highlight the compelling journeys that each shop owner made, so that we may become familiar with the owners and their businesses.
Name: Khaing M. Thein & Win W. Shwe
Country of Origin: Arakan State of Burma
Languages Spoken: Arakanese mother tongue, Burmese, Thai, American Sign Language, English
My Journey to Buffalo:
Words of Khaing: I left Burma to go to Thailand in 1996 for political reasons; I felt my life was in danger because of propaganda. My brother was the chairperson of a liberal democratic party that he ran out of his home. We tried to educate others about democracy. With Burma controlled under a dictatorship, our efforts had to be secretive to avoid jail time. At that time, we did not have the freedom to express ourselves, especially through publication. The dictator in Burma controlled the media. In order to inform those about the human rights issue there I went to Thailand. I started working for two different organizations both based in Thailand. One in which, I was the editor for a magazine called The New Light of the Magazine run by a literature organization. The magazine was created as a way to shed light on all Burma’s history.
Historically, the Burmese had control over all publication, making it difficult for all nine ethnic groups to learn the truth about where they came from. During my time in Thailand, I started protests in front of the Burmese Embassy against the violence that took place involving innocent people in Burma. Protesting in front of the embassy is illegal and I soon began to worry for my safety. For that reason alone and to further my education I applied for American citizenship. I was placed in Buffalo in 2004.
My Store in the West Side Bazaar:
I want to start by thanking the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) for helping to give my wife and me the space to start our own business. It was at a time where I needed it most because I had just lost a job. At our shop called Rakhapura Mutee & Sushi, we sell homemade sushi in over 30 varieties all created by my wife and myself. I learned everything I know from handling food to cleanliness from the eight years I spent in the restaurant world. Our sushi is very good quality and made with ingredients that come from all over the world. Our top selling sushi is the Buffalo roll, Banana Mango roll, and the sushi named after myself, the Khaing sushi roll. It is a delicious spicy tuna and crab roll with spicy sauce.
My dream is to expand our sushi shop as mush as I can. I am hoping to open my own store in the future. We would like to have a sushi bar that uses the best products, while still maintaining affordable prices for our customers. We acknowledge that the customer’s opinions and satisfaction is most important.
Rakhapura Mutee & Sushi | The West Side Bazaar | 25 Grant Street | Buffalo NY 14213 |716-308-7640 | 716-247-2694