One of Vancouver’s most popular Chinese restaurants has taken shark-fin soup off the menu. Floata Seafood Restaurant (400-180 Keefer Street) signed a letter issued by Vision Vancouver on September 29 stating that the 1,000-seat restaurant would no longer be serving the controversial dish.
“We said to the Floata restaurant, we will only hold our fundraisers and events here if you take it off the menu,” Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview on October 26. “The manager, Antonio Hung… signed a paper saying that he ‘does not support or condone the serving of shark-fin soup in my restaurant’, and he’s taken it off the menu and I think that’s fantastic, so I’m encouraging people to go to the Floata restaurant and support it.”
Jang, who introduced a motion to develop a regional ban on the sale of shark-fin products during a September 18 city council meeting, said that Floata is the first Chinese restaurant in Vancouver to take shark-fin off the menu. However, he would not be surprised if other Chinese restaurants followed suit.
“It’s quite generational—the older you are, the more you’re for shark fin; the younger you are, the less you care,” Jang said. “Now, we’re seeing a decrease in the number of people who order it, and restaurateurs are seeing a decrease in shark-fin consumption.”
At Floata, shark-fin soup had appeared on the restaurant’s menu since the Floata Restaurant Group, which operates restaurants in China, opened its first Canadian location in Richmond in 1992. The expansive Chinatown location featured shark-fin soup on six banquet menus, including those for wedding, birthday, and newborn baby celebrations (12-course menus with shark-fin soup range from $438 to $988 for 10 people). However, the restaurant is not concerned that eliminating the soup from the menu will affect restaurant revenues.
“There are a lot of soups that we could serve instead of shark-fin soup,” Raymond Lau, a manager at Floata Seafood Restaurant, told the Straight by phone today (October 30). Lau listed fish, crab, and chicken soups as a few alternatives that the restaurant would be serving.
Lau also mentioned that the restaurant had already started to see a decrease in the popularity of shark-fin soup being ordered off banquet menus. “It was not so popular,” he said.
Jang, who stated animal cruelty and sustainability as the reasons why he is against the sale of shark fin, compared Floata’s challenge to West Coast restaurants committing to the OceanWise program when it was still new.
“It’s a big risk for them in the sense that they’ve always been seen as a traditional Chinese restaurant that caters largely to Chinese [people],” Jang said. “I think this sends the message: ‘We are part of Canadian society, so we will reflect Canadian values. We are still a Chinese restaurant, but with Canadian values.’ So it’s really opened it up to everybody across the city. It’s not just seen as a Chinese place. It’s seen as a place that reflects everybody’s values.”
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