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Bringing foie gras and/or shark fin into california.

Does anyone know the legality of doing this?

Do you know if it is legal to order these online and have them delivered to you?

Thanks.

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  1. Found this on line but you somone here from Cali might know more.

    <<The “California foie gras ban,” State Senate Bill No. 1520 (SB 1520), was so poorly written and vague, attorneys say the law is impossible to enforce. Read attorney Baylen Linnekin’s article “Overturn California’s Foie Gras Ban”.

    It is legal to possess foie gras in California, allowing individuals to enjoy the product at home. Select products are available for purchase in Reno, Nevada, where Mirepoix USA is now based. Please contact us directly regarding your options.>>

    http://www.enjoyfoiegras.com/

    1. If a supplier bought shark fin b4 the ban took effect they have until June to sell it, according to this posted on 3/8/13. But restos can't resell it so it can only be bought by consumers.

      http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2013/03...

      1. "California customers -- Please note that, as of July 1, 2012, California law prohibits the sale of foie gras within the state of California. While the law does allow for us to sell to you through our website and for you to consume the product, there may be restrictions on your ability to resell them within your own state."

        http://www.dartagnan.com/51177/731859...

        1. no problem ordering foie gras online or bringing it in by car, I've done both.

          no idea about shark fin.

          7 Replies
          1. re: tjinsf

            The foie gras law (SB1520) regulates sale in CA, but doesn't say anything about possession or consumption. The shark fin law (AB376), on the other hand, generally makes it illegal to possess shark fin.

            1. re: calumin

              interesting.

              i would assume i'd be fine, though, given it is a state ban and lots of people go through customs in sfo then continue on to other states.

              i wonder if any shark fin retailers will set up shop in Reno.

              1. re: Dustin_E

                Food for Thought:

                If you are returning from Mexico by air, and your first stop is in California to clear Customs, Federal regulations permit you to bring in 2.0L of distilled spirits.

                HOWEVER, if your first stop is in Arizona to clear Customs -- while there is (obviously) no change in what FEDERAL regulations permit -- ARIZONA permits you to bring in ONE liter of distilled spirits . . . it does not matter if you have a continuing flight out of the state to another destination (e.g.: San Francisco). ONE liter is all you can bring in, if you clear Customs in Phoenix.

                Thus, I would NOT assume you'd be fine . . .

                1. re: zin1953

                  interesting point, thanks.

                  i'll likely buy a small amount, also buy a little fish maw (which looks about the same), mix them together, and see what happens.

                  i know a friend imported several pounds of frozen shark fin a while back -- it was labeled "frozen fish". but this might have been before the ban went into effect.

                  i wonder if a shark fin restaurant (a fook lam moon or lei garden?) will pop up in vegas -- certainly a good place for conspicuous consumption.

                  1. re: Dustin_E

                    There are lots of places to get shark's fin soup and other Chinese luxury dishes in Vegas.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      i'm sure there are. i just don't know of any particularly well-known / destination-worthy spots.

                      i'm not sure if wing lei in the wynn serves these items -- it is at least not on their main menu.

                      1. re: Dustin_E

                        The Animal Welfare Institute has compiled a handy list that could be as useful for shark's fin fans as for protesters.

                        http://awionline.org/content/restaura...

          2. You're going to Hong Kong soon right? If you are talking about purchasing shark fin, fish maw, sea cucumber, dried abalone to bring back, I honestly cannot see them confiscating it, because nowhere does it say in the customs forms that is not allowed. Only meats (dried or preserved), and fresh fruits/vegetables are no no. From the HK side they will also stop you from bringing bottled drinks you purchased post security on the plane...but feel free to board with a roast goose, cheung fun (no sauce probably), beef chow fun, tonkatsu rice, or Maxim's pastries all you want.

            14 Replies
            1. re: K K

              yeah, visiting hong kong + tokyo in a few weeks.

              thanks for the advice -- i think i'll give it a try.

              1. re: Dustin_E

                http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10...

                This is an old article but I understand that the courts have upheld the ban.

              2. re: K K

                I doubt US customs would enforce a California state law.

                1. re: raytamsgv

                  They enforce Arizona state laws!

                    1. re: raytamsgv

                      So, I take it you didn't read my previous post above to Dustin ("Food for Thought") . . .

                      OK. Here it is again:

                      >>> Food for Thought:

                      If you are returning from Mexico by air, and your first stop is in California to clear Customs, Federal regulations permit you to bring in 2.0L of distilled spirits.

                      HOWEVER, if your first stop is in Arizona to clear Customs -- while there is (obviously) no change in what FEDERAL regulations permit -- ARIZONA permits you to bring in ONE liter of distilled spirits . . . it does not matter if you have a continuing flight out of the state to another destination (e.g.: San Francisco). ONE liter is all you can bring in, if you clear Customs in Phoenix.

                      Thus, I would NOT assume you'd be fine . . . <<<

                      Just so there is no misunderstanding, fly directly into Florida, California, New York, etc., bringing in 2.0L of distilled spirits -- what Federal regulations permit -- and Customs will have no problem with it. But fly into Arizona and try to clear Customs there, and they will confiscate anything over ONE liter . . .

                      1. re: zin1953

                        Thank you for the clarification.

                      2. re: raytamsgv

                        I can tell you from personal experience in Virginia and Arizona that the Feds enforce state laws regarding alcohol. Don't know about other goods.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          I'd think they all would. If not they, then whom? Set up a second Customs clearing process operated by the state? That doesn't make a ton of sense to me.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            California does have its own agricultural inspection stations on the Arizona border. I passed them on the Oregon border as well, but they were closed at that time.

                            1. re: raytamsgv

                              Actually I was referring to airport customs. The "bug stations" are there to keep "bugs" from getting in the CA agricultural system, which we probably all depend on. They're checking for produce only and not contraband. Many a traveler has lost their fruits and vegs picked up at local farm stands.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                These days, there's more concern about bugs getting out of California. Most of the Bay Area's in an agricultural quarantine zone.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Wow, I didn't know that. That's scary. I've wondered how many people realize how important CA's agriculture is to at least this nation.

                            2. re: c oliver

                              There are many laws enacted that do not appropriate any funds for enforcement and no inspections happen anywhere. I don't know the situation in this case, as I said.

                  1. Foie gras & shark fin belong in two totally different conversations . . .

                    The collection of shark fin is a barbaric ritual that results in a depletion of the shark population, and the consumption is completely tied into status, as well as old medicinal ideas that basically help men's virility.

                    Foie gras, on the other hand, is a delicious treat that goes well with everything and doesn't hurt the overall goose population. Yes the cultivation methods are not the prettiest and perhaps even morally questionable, but the world isn't facing an extinction of goose just because some farmers fatten their livers up.

                    Sorry to get all agro in the discussion, this is a really good topic. I just moved to California and am pretty bummed about the whole foie gras thing.

                    52 Replies
                    1. re: dannyrogue

                      this thread is about legality, not ethics -- and as both are banned under california law, they should be part of the same conversation.

                      i'm happy you like foie gras and not shark fin -- good for you.

                      shark fin soup is the most delicious noodle soup in the world. the texture of the fin is far superior to any other type of asian or western noodle. and the depth of flavor in the broth is divine -- and i'm not sure more traditional noodles have the structure to stand up to the strong broth.

                      i believe people who think it is "completely tied into status" usually haven't had it -- or at least haven't had a good version of it. anyway, there are a lot of people who think most "foodies" are actually more concerned with status -- albeit the ones on CH certainly do it in a more informed way. so i don't think it is fair to dismiss it as merely related to "status".

                      there is an ecological problem with shark fin harvesting -- definitely. though there is also arguably an ecological problem with producing chicken mcnuggets. how about for every bowl of shark fin soup i eat, i'll forgo two months of chicken mcnuggets?

                      i don't have an ethical problem with the "barbarism" -- given the violent nature of sharks, this seems like justice to me.

                      finally, much like i think the foie gras ban was successful because ~80% of californians were too poor/too uncultured to be eating it in the first place, the shark fin ban was successful because ~80% of californians had zero interest in traditional chinese food. but more mainstream foods with ethical or ecological problems certainly aren't being banned.

                      1. re: Dustin_E

                        " given the violent nature of sharks, this seems like justice to me." Huh? Should they not eat? Here's some info that may help you:

                        http://www.sharks-world.com/what_do_s...

                        I especially like the part where they point out that rarely do sharks eat people. Once they taste, they realize it's not a food they prefer. I think trying to justify eating an, in some cases, endangered species is an awfully big generalization. I can legally eat caviar when I'm in lots of other countries. But I don't. For the sake of the planet.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          sharks will barbarically eat thousands of fish over their lifespan. if their life comes to an end in a "barbaric" way, i don't see the problem with that.

                          there is still the ecological problem -- but moderation / responsible shark harvesting could also be a solution to that.

                          1. re: Dustin_E

                            So you think sharks shouldn't eat. That sounds like an end to the species then. As well as upsetting an entire ecosystem. They're not vegetarians, ya know?

                            1. re: c oliver

                              i didn't say that -- i do think they should eat.

                              but then expect to be eaten.

                              by me.

                              if done responsibly, it wouldn't upset an ecosystem.

                              some ethicists believe it would be good to rid the world of all carnivores. i'm not arguing this, i just think it is an interesting read:

                              http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/...

                              1. re: Dustin_E

                                But you AREN'T eating them . . . the fins that you seek are routinely taken from sharks and then they are tossed back into the sea where they die a slow, miserable death.

                                You *seriously* want to talk about barbarism?

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  so then some other sea creatures will eat the rest of the shark.

                                  similar to how i try to give any leftovers i am not going to eat to homeless people.

                                  i actually only want to talk about legal issues. ethics issues on the internet usually just become flame wars.

                                2. re: Dustin_E

                                  How would you responsibly acquire shark fin? Seems like an oxymoron to me.

                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                    1. don't do it so much they grow extinct / irreparably harm their ecosystem / whatever.

                                    2. if you're going to dump the shark back into the sea, euthanize it first.

                                    1. re: Dustin_E

                                      Sharks are already over harvested. Continuing the same practice with a little anesthesia thrown in is not being ecologically responsible. I'd have no issue if the entire animal was being used but its not. A tiny bit is taken and it dies (slowly) and is wasted. I simply cannot understand justifying this practice.

                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                        >> Sharks are already over harvested.

                                        fair point. i don't consume much of the stuff, and i don't consume it often, so i can live with myself consuming it on rare occasion. probably similar to how most people feel about their sushi consumption.

                                        >> I'd have no issue if the entire animal was being used but its not.

                                        i don't understand why this is a big problem -- the fin is apparently the only part that has value. john dory is another type of fish with a low yield of meat -- do you think people should shy away from that as well?

                                        if we're trying to be more ecologically sensitive, can we also ban house cats?

                                        1. re: Dustin_E

                                          Ha. My cats should be banned. I had them fixed. Does that count? My issue with not using an entire animal comes from growing up in a rural area and eating what was hunted. There was a great disdain for those who killed, for example, a buck just for a piece of the animal as a trophy and left the rest to rot. Animals are a finite resource and when we deliberately waste them, we're not doing Earth any favors.

                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                            i believe cats are a problem outside because they are driving some wildlife / songbirds to the point of extinction.

                                            they are a problem inside because they consume an unnatural amount of (farmed) fish.

                                            1. re: Dustin_E

                                              Well, then I'm good. My cats live inside and don't eat fish.

                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                Me too! Whew! Glad to know I'm doing all I can to be good to the world.

                                          2. re: Dustin_E

                                            John Dory are being sustainably farmed, and are not mutilated in the hideous manner that sharks are. Not equivalent at all.

                                3. re: Dustin_E

                                  >>> sharks will barbarically eat thousands of fish over their lifespan. <<<

                                  And how many head of cattle, sheep, pigs, and fish will you "barbarically" eat over YOUR lifespan? How much food will you throw out, thus adding the word "needlessly" to the word "barbarically" . . .

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    lots -- and i think this is more of an ethical problem than eating shark fin, as the animals you list are primarily herbivores.

                                    1. re: Dustin_E

                                      I'm sorry . . . you think Mother Nature -- through sharks -- is responsible for certain species of fish being brought to the edge of extinction? Or is it Man?

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        shark suffering - i don't care

                                        shark extinction / ecological imbalance - i care, but my very moderate consumption won't make a difference, and is offset by other "good deeds" ... like not having a cat.

                                        1. re: Dustin_E

                                          These do's and don'ts don't quite qualify for a Nobel Peace Prize.

                                4. re: c oliver

                                  In that same vein, this is why they were banned in CA:

                                  "Despite their ecological importance, an estimated 38 million sharks are killed each year to supply the trade in shark fins, which are consumed in Chinese restaurants around the world. California hosts three of the four largest Chinese populations in the U.S. (the other being Honolulu, Hawaii, a state which boasted the country’s first shark fin ban). California accounts for about 60 percent of the shark fin trade outside Asia and is recognized as a trafficking and facilitation point for the global trade." http://devblog.conservation.org/2011/...

                                  1. re: Maya

                                    Wow. I'd always thought of this as a mostly Asian issue. I'm saddened that we, as a country, are not doing more to stop the trade in shark fin.

                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                      i think it would be a lot more meaningful if this country gave up / banned something mainstream that is environmentally unfriendly -- like cats, suvs, etc.

                                      maybe hong kong island can ban gas guzzling SUVs and feel proud of themselves.

                                      1. re: Dustin_E

                                        Yes, we should all make ecologically responsible choices both large and small.

                                5. re: Dustin_E

                                  I wouldn't consider shark fin soup a category of noodle soup.
                                  Unless we're talking about the street food snack imitation shark fin soup, where bean thread vermicelli noodles are used instead of fin, but they try to replicate the broth and add more ingredients to it (like woodwear and maybe bamboo shoots).

                                  Shark fin soup has been part of Cantonese (and some non Cantonese Chinese) banquet dining for quite some time, but even in Hong Kong, people and restaurants are more conscious about not wanting to eat the stuff for a number of reasons similar to the opposition you are receiving. But if a customer chooses to partake, most restaurants that have it won't bat an eye. But there have been youtube videos equivalent to "leave my Britney alone" madness by PETA types in Hong Kong protesting shark fin, (but probably have no qualms with imitation harmful products from the North).

                                  So the argument about shark fin as a status symbol for those who are making it, isn't quite the same anymore. It was the definitely the case during the economic boom in the 1970s and early 80s when the noveau riche were poked fun of who liked to mix "shark fin with rice" and eat it as a snack (and drink VSOP / XO for breakfast, but that was more of a jab towards the Northerners). Those with tons of expendable income in Hong Kong these days that want high end dining, have tons of other options beyond shark fin quite frankly, like a US$680 meal at 2 Michelin star branch of Sushi Yoshitake or 3 Michelin star French and Italian, or even Sun Tung Lok (which has shark fin but that is far from their best dish).

                                  Talking about eating something "unethical" and watching the responses is almost as fun as debating whether something is authentic or not....

                                  But I agree, the texture is an acquired taste, and the soul lies in the stock (mature chicken, Chinese ham, dried scallops) and it is the interaction of the stock with the fin that makes it special.

                                  It also sounds like you don't have a definitive answer to your original question, and all I can say is whether you choose to bring back a bag of the stuff, just proceed with caution and be prepared for the risks if something happens. I doubt you'll have any luck getting a restaurant locally to prepare the stuff for you (unless you have a solid trusting relationship with the chef and manager to keep it discreet). If you prepare it at home, you'll have to prep your own home brew broth...a rich enhanced chicken stock (smoked Virginia ham/ham hock, whole chicken, chicken feet for the collagen, pork bone) will do the trick....then some cornstarch to thicken as needed. Then there's the gamble of whether the fin you purchased in HK is good enough to use even after soaking for a while and cooking (you don't want it to melt, but you also don't want it end up tasting like it has rocks or grinded bones in it).

                                  For what it's worth, I gave up shark fin soup a while ago and can live without it. Though I feel much less guilty eating a piece of pristine bluefin tuna.

                                  1. re: K K

                                    >> I wouldn't consider shark fin soup a category of noodle soup.

                                    I wouldn't either -- but that is still the best description i can think of in describing it to people who haven't had it before.

                                    >> mature chicken

                                    can you elaborate on this? is there a particular place to get "mature" chicken? Why is this different from just normal chicken?

                                    >> I doubt you'll have any luck getting a restaurant locally to prepare the stuff for you

                                    i'm really just interested in learning to cook the stuff myself. alongside other delicacies of various cuisines of various time periods. and shark fin seemed more ethical than giant sea turtle... (just kidding)

                                    1. re: Dustin_E

                                      Most "chickens" aka fryers, broilers to roasters at your local market are slaughtered anywhere from six weeks to a year of age.

                                      Cocks (as in coq au vin), or old egg laying hens, or just older birds are not as easy to find however these older birds lend a gelatinous depth to broths and stews. In Chinese markets, you can find "stewing hens" in the frozen meat areas next to frozen black chickens.

                                      Personally, I've always enjoyed the broth of the shark fin soup and never the fin itself. *shrug* just my opinion as an ABC.

                                      1. re: Dustin_E

                                        Pretty simple, an older (in age) chicken has more flavor when stewed or boiled/double boiled in Cantonese soups, although the meat could be tougher. And it has to be a whole chicken for the flavor to be preserved and captured. The younger chickens as Cary has already mentioned are better for other and more immediate applications (stewing, braising, frying, steaming etc).

                                        Or you can experiment with a variant that Spring Deer in Tsim Tsa Tsui does...which is a claypot (sa guo) chicken soup with shark fin...(although many these days request without it)...also has napa cabbage and fresh wontons in it. The lid must be kept on during the entire cooking process.

                                      2. re: K K

                                        Long ago and far away, I loved sharks fin soup! But I always knew that it was the soup that made the dish. When I became a scuba diver and realized that there was more pleasure in swimming with sharks than eating them, I gave up sharks fin.

                                        My fantasy soup--fantasy because I don't know where to find it--has sea cucumber, fish maw, wood ear mushrooms, and dried scallops in a broth that would have been used for sharks fin. . . (Is there an emoticon that covers "drool" and "sigh" at the same time?)

                                        1. re: K K

                                          Hey Ken, can you recommend a place around Millbrae or San Mateo that we can try some good shark's fin soup this weekend? Zen Peninsula's Web site looks promising, though I'm not sure if shark's fin is still available or if the prices here are still valid:

                                          http://www.zenpeninsula.com/prod03.htm

                                          1. re: vincentlo

                                            it's banned in california now. unlikely they still serve it.

                                            1. re: Dustin_E

                                              To Vincent and others:

                                              According to Koi Palace dot com the ban takes place on 7/1,making the last day this coming Sunday to partake.

                                              On their website there is a Chinese only banquet menu of which every single course is shark fin, at $400 per person, including uhm....black truffle and shark fin Xiao long bao, down to the dessert. The Dublin location might have it as well but not sure. Vulgarity at its finest :-) Of course the restaurant is probably expecting one to pair this with expensive four digit priced bottle liquor or wine.

                                              If one is to indulge one last time with fin, I'd stick with Koi Palace and make the drive/effort. But even then one should be somewhat knowledeable about what kind you are getting, rather than relying on the name of the restaurant (who knows one could be paying $$$ for what is actually lower grade material). It's like overpaying wild Bluefin prices for big eye, for example... For me I've eaten a lifetime of fin and can live without it, would rather splurge on a meal at Akiko's instead to be honest. Braised abalone, Bluefin, A5 Wagyu over shark fin!

                                              It is also possible that the shark fin themed banquets could be sold out by now. But I think you can also get personal sized portions of a soup of some sort, while supplies last. Call ahead to confirm.

                                              Vincent, if KP is not practical, then hmmm.... maybe Asian Pearl in Millbrae or Hong Kong Flower Lounge/Mayflower.

                                              Guessing KP won't cook and serve their decoration piece of fin, where it probably is worth several thousand or over ten thousand bucks, or maybe they are saving it for the VIP card customers who live in the Hillsborough.

                                                1. re: K K

                                                  Did Koi Palace take down this $400/person shark fin menu on their Web site? Can't find it.

                                                  1. re: vincentlo

                                                    Possible they are booked/sold out of it. Or they only had a few seatings for it... You can always call and ask if they plan on having it again this weekend.

                                                    But you can see a small shot of it here

                                                    http://www.yelp.com/user_local_photos...

                                                    1. re: K K

                                                      Thanks! The poster said it was only available for one night in Dublin, and another in Daly City. Not that I would partake unless someone would sponsor that meal. :-D

                                                  2. re: K K

                                                    I just came back from Zen Peninsula in Millbrae. They are completely sold out last night and tonight, and they told me yesterday to come during lunchtime (but avoid the peak dim sum time of 11 AM-1 PM). I picked Zen primarily because they have a $75 (up from $69 on their Web site) set menu for one person, including a Japanese dried abalone, a bowl of their higher-end shark fin soup, a small dish of my choice, and dessert:

                                                    http://www.zenpeninsula.com/prod03.htm

                                                    The abalone was small as expected, about two inches in length, but surprisingly good in texture and taste for dried abalone. It was only about 3 small bites, and came with two pieces of mustard green. Originally I had doubts about the quality of this abalone given the moderate price of this set menu, but Philip said that was from their old stock before the tsunami in Japan (and implied that the prices were much lower then).

                                                    There was a generous amount of shark fin in the bowl, and the quality looked pretty good. The soup was white, not thick like the brown stuff you get in cheap banquets. Not too salty or "fake" (as when too much MSG is used). I asked Philip what they would do with leftover shark fin after tonight, and he said they would give it away to their employees. I told him I thought even private possession would be illegal. But how can this be enforced?

                                                    I picked the smoked sea bass for my set meal, and mostly because it was probably the most expensive among the dozens of choices. There was no complaint about the taste, but it was overcooked, and so the fish was a bit tough.

                                                    The jasmine rice was pleasantly fragrant. I like to sniff the white rice every time I go out to a Chinese restaurant. Invariably the ones that give out a big tub at the table never serve good rice.

                                                    They let us pick my dessert, and I chose the turtle jello, which was cold and not too sweet (I like that) but was kinda tasteless (Americanized so as not to taste bitter or medicinal?).

                                                    I looked at their live seafood in the tanks, and there were so many huge Alaskan king crabs. They were selling them at $32/pound. The spot or coral prawns were surprisingly inexpensive at $28/pound, just a few dollars higher than the retail price, and Philip said they made no profit from these prawns. The only kind of lobsters I saw was the usual kind, and when I asked Philip if they stocked Australian lobsters, he said one had to call in and reserve since they don't usually last too long in the tanks. They also have "sing baan" (fish with many small pretty dots on their bodies) for $50-60 a pound. The ones I saw looked like about 3 pounds.

                                                    I had a satisfying meal (and conversation). ;-)

                                                    1. re: vincentlo

                                                      Glad you squeezed in a last shark fin meal! And good thing you are on good terms with the management there...my family dislikes Zen Peninsula, they have encountered really bad attitudes with the staff before (and they overcharged us one time when we had several tables of 10 for a family friend's red egg party) and kept giving excuses. Lately their dim sum has been on the downward slide that I haven't had the urge to go back, or even want to try their Alaskan King crab (as much as I would love to).

                                                      Went to Asian Pearl Millbrae for lunch, but didn't ask about fins. They had several varieties of fish in the tanks, but some were on their way to the River Styx (floating on the sides, some doing the backstroke). One huge channel rockfish ("red dragon") that looked like a 8 to 9 pounder, geoducks, some smaller sesame trout (sometimes called sesame grouper), and the usual suspects.

                                            2. re: Dustin_E

                                              What is the law with regard to bringing in some limited amount for personal consumption (as opposed to for resale, which seems pretty clearly illegal in CA)? I don't know. Is that allowed?

                                              It becomes an ethics issue if the question and answer come down to ways to circumvent (or break) the the law.

                                              I wonder if its ok to eat a bunny rabbit: last time I checked, they are not "violent" (except in Monty Python movies) .

                                              1. re: Dustin_E

                                                I had shark's fin at Koi Palace, which supposedly specializes in it. it didn't impress me at all.

                                                "[Hugh] said he couldn't eat sea horses because they were friendly and never did anyone any harm, this as opposed to those devious, bloodthirsty lambs whose legs we so regularly roast with rosemary and new potatoes."—David Sedaris

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Hilarious quote!

                                                  I keep thinking that if I were a better person, I'd become vegetarian. But if I made myself vegetarian, I fear I wouldn't be a better person. Even I don't like myself when I'm on a diet.

                                                  1. re: pilinut

                                                    Have you read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma? I felt guilty - briefly - for being an omnivore.

                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Did you at least enjoy the broth, or the broth itself (without the shark's fin) didn't impress you either?

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        >> Shark fin's soup: the fin of course has no flavor, just an
                                                        >> unusual texture, and in this case it was served in a thick,
                                                        >> almost equally tasteless cornstarch-thickened goo. The red
                                                        >> vinegar made it edible but what a waste of money.

                                                        i don't understand how you can rule out a dish after having a bad version of it one time.

                                                        1. re: Dustin_E

                                                          I was commenting only on the dish I was served.

                                                          Koi Palace has five shark's fin dishes on the menu priced from $15 to $48 so maybe we didn't get the good stuff. But there were so many horrible problems with that meal that I'll never go back unless maybe it changes hands.

                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                            I believe that the cost of high quality shark's fin has gone way up. That might be a factor in your experience.

                                                            Used to be sharks fin soup was served at every good Chinese banquet and I have probably had it up to a hundred times. My uncle used to make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas and his homemade version was quite good.

                                                            It seems there is a lot of emotion built up over the issue on both sides. Most ABC's will have very fond memories of the soup and it is part of our cultural heritage.

                                                            I don't think that there is much "humane" about killing animals or plants for food. If you want to eat, some other living thing has to die.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              i just think there may not be a lot of competition for shark fin dishes in the bay area, so maybe there just aren't many places here that serve a good version of it.

                                                              i also didn't particularly like the dish at koi palace

                                                              that said, my favorite shark fin dishes have been at r&g lounge, and a home-cooked frozen / imported one a friend got from his chinese products importing parents.

                                                              had it at like 4 different supposedly top places in hong kong a couple weeks ago. and honestly, i didn't love any of them.

                                                              1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                I'm thinking any places that host large banquets might still have shark fin soup on the menu. A lot of those restaurants seem to be gone. I think the last time for me was at the late Silver Dragon in Oakland Ctown.

                                                                I just remembered that the old Chinese dudes would pour a little Johnny Walker Red in their soup. Can you imagine shark fin soup with a dash of Macallan 12 year old.

                                                                The more I think about it, I don't think that shark fin's soup is any more barbarous than eating balut or raw seafood.

                                                    1. re: dannyrogue

                                                      >>> I just moved to California and am pretty bummed about the whole foie gras thing. <<<

                                                      As are we all . . . .

                                                    2. I travel back and forth between LA and Spain and always bring back vacuum-packed salt cod, but when I looked up the likelihood of being intercepted by Customs & Border Protection I found this: "Some states have fish and wildlife laws and regulations that are stricter than federal laws and regulations. If you are returning to such a state, be aware that the stricter state laws and regulations have priority. Similarly, the federal government does not allow you to import wild animals into the United States that were taken, killed, sold, possessed or exported from another country if any of these acts violated foreign laws." at

                                                      http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_...