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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

March 12, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Whale of a problem: local Typhoon! mistakenly harpooned

When news broke this week about a Santa Monica restaurant accused of illegally serving meat from an endangered whale, an innocent and unrelated Northwest restaurant group got caught in the fray.

The local Typhoon! happens to have the same name as Typhoon Restaurant Inc., the parent company of The Hump, which is the accused restaurant in Santa Monica. That Typhoon and one of its sushi chefs have been charged with illegally selling meat from a sei whale, which is listed as endangered and protected by international treaty.

Since the story came to the nation’s attention, managers at Typhoon! Thai restaurants in Oregon and Washington have been fielding phone calls and e-mails from an outraged public threatening to boycott. And that case of mistaken identity has become a whale of a problem for owners Bo and Steve Kline and their employees.

The parent-company of the (unfortunately named) Hump restaurant and its Santa Monica Airport sibling unfortunately share a name with an unrelated Northwest restaurant-group. [photo: Al Seig/LA Times]

“The outrage is understandable, but misdirected,” said the more emphatically puntuated Typhoon!’s Bo Kline today in a prepared statement. “We work hard to serve the best and healthiest food we can put on a plate, and we don’t serve endangered anything.” Signs have been posted at all Typhoon locations, including the one in Redmond, explaining “IT WASN’T US!”

Yet whale lovers continue to call, write and complain. “Shame, shame shame,” wrote one. “You’d better run back to Japan. You’re done in the USA.” Said another, “I find it offensive and disgusting that your restaurant chain sells protected whales to customers.”

Enough already! says me.

As someone who has long appreciated Typhoon!’s contribution to the local dining scene, I urge those well-intentioned blubberers: Stop harpooning the Portland-based company. As for the rest of you? May I suggest a visit to Redmond , where you can share your support of Typhoon! And while you’re there, try my favorite dish, the Pine Cone Fish. It’s made with Alaska halibut.

No whale: Bo promises. [Seattle Times photo/Barry Wong]

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